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Eco-friendly packaging: How a sustainable strategy is smart for the environment and for efficiency.

09 jul 2020 — Logistics, Trends, White paper, Innovations
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Today, environmental sustainability is key. It is both a rising demand from consumers and a global issue where we all have a role to play. Eco-friendly packaging has to be easy to recycle, safe for the environment and can also be made from recycled materials.

Today, environmental sustainability is key. It is both a rising demand from consumers and a global issue where we all have a role to play. Eco-friendly packaging has to be easy to recycle, safe for the environment and can also be made from recycled materials.

Packaging, when created with sustainability in mind, plays a key role in helping to preserve the environment. This is now more important than ever with natural resources being depleted at a rapid rate, and unrecycled plastic polluting the planet.

Pressure is rising from consumers and governments alike, upping priority for corporate social responsibility across packaging operations.With accountability growing so are new opportunities in the global sustainable packaging market, which is expected to reach nearly $413 billion in 2027 for a compound annual growth rate of over 6% from 2018 to 2027 (Global Sustainable Packaging Market Outlook by Research Nester, 2019).

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Being part of an eco-friendly solution also means streamlining packaging logistics with sustainable practices that cut out unnecessary components or processes, which drives efficiency and is a win-win for both the planet and savings.

What Is Eco-Friendly Packaging?

Eco-friendly packaging has various aspects, as it is all about having a mindset that takes the environment into consideration. It can be : 

  • Providing recyclable packaging
  • Reusing materials
  • Using less materials in packaging
  • Making toxic free packaging to preserve both the environment and the workers
  • Using recycled or responsible base materials
  • Using manufacturing methods that consume less energy

 

In a nutshell, eco-friendly packaging is about keeping in mind the sustainability and recycling of all packaging materials.

What consumers wants

A focus on natural materials means there are no toxic chemicals in eco-friendly packaging so it is safer for people and the environment, which can influence buying behaviors. A recent survey shows 57% of consumers will pay more for eco-friendly packaging (Sustainable Packaging Unwrapped, GlobalWebIndex, 2019). Another 42% consider packaging made from recycled or sustainable materials as crucial to their everyday purchase habits.

 

Competitive advantages

On top of that, adopting a sustainable packaging strategy offers competitive advantages that improve brand image, attract partnerships, increase client loyalty, reduce risk and support human resources.

Responsible Base Materials

Eco-friendly packaging starts with sourcing responsible base supplies such as flexible and/or mono-materials, plant-based and other green alternatives. These can be integrated into a circular supply chain and reduce energy consumption.

 

Here are a few reliable and innovative options:

  • Wood can be converted into paper and cardboard for a variety of packaging solutions that are biodegradable and easy to recycle. Durable one-piece corrugated cardboard options can be delivered flat-packed assembled in a single motion for efficiency.
     
  • Cornstarch is an organic material with qualities similar to plastic. It is ideal for products with limited use, such as takeaway food, and can also be used for moulded forms, bottles, bags and loose-fill packaging.
     
  • Mushroom roots mixed with agricultural waste produce organic packaging that offers a cost-effective alternative to support smaller items.
     
  • Bagasse paper is a sugarcane fibre pulp created from juice extraction, and is a good replacement for paper packaging in the food industry. It decomposes much more quickly than plastic.
     
  • Bamboo grows quickly and is highly renewable. It is protective thanks to its strength and durability, and can be used as a substitute for corrugated board, foams and moulded paper fibre materials.
     
  • Seaweed, an abundant raw material, is gaining popularity as a packaging medium, notably in the food sector because it is organic and environmentally friendly.
     
  • Organic fabrics, such as hemp, cotton, tapioca and palm leaves, make reusable bags that  decompose more quickly than plastic.
     
  • Biodegradable plastics and bioplastics are good substitutes for plastic when sturdiness is required. They are recyclable and recycled materials that can be used for strapping bands, testliners, stretch films, pallet covering films, bags and more.

 

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The 3Rs: Less Is More… Efficient

Sustainable packaging increases efficiency because it does more with less by respecting the three 3 Rs – Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.

Reduce

Eco-friendly packaging design is optimized for size, space and weight to reduce waste. It is made of tougher, thinner substances than traditional packaging supplies, protecting products effectively while using less materials. For example, Multilayer stretch film is a tough and thin plastic film that protects products effectively while using less materials. It contributes to reducing the carbon footprint of packaging. 

 

Reuse

Packaging has a short life cycle but making the most of its use is possible with versatile renewable base materials that support a circular supply chain. Eco-friendly packages are made to be reused and returned many times, allowing more productivity in delivering.

 

Recycle

Choosing recycled or recyclable materials for package fabrication is important to meet increasingly strict environmental regulations. Eco-friendly packaging can be broken down or used in other products so the value of the material initially used can be maximized.

Good For The Planet, Good For Consumers

The switch to sustainability requires optimization across the entire value chain and packaging life cycle, but the benefits are worth it : as a logistic manager, going eco-friendly means less materials, and a better use of them.

 

Eco-friendly packaging adds great value in the logistics chain because not only is it good for the planet, it is also good for consumers, who progressively are expecting brands to pay more attention to the environment. That is why now is the ideal time to adopt proactive practices for sustainability !

 

If you want to read our full trend report about trends in logistics, our latest white paper will give you insights on eco-friendly packaging, as well as AI, Robotics, Big Data and more.