Sustainability is arguably one of the most important considerations to make when deciding how to package your product. Thanks to the ‘David Attenborough effect’, plastics are out and eco-friendly alternatives are the new black as far as consumers are concerned. But how can you make sure your packaging is green without greenwashing? What types of packaging really are sustainable? And is it possible to go green without spending a fortune? Check out our 3 easy sustainable packaging tips.
1. Choose your packaging material carefully
If you’ve previously been packing in plastic bags, don’t automatically switch to a material branded as ‘eco-friendly’. Compostable packaging sounds appealing, but it will only compost in an industrial facility. In the UK we are at least three years away from having this kind of infrastructure in place, not to mention separate bin collections. So where will your compostable packaging end up? In landfill. Or maybe even the sea. And it won’t break down much quicker than normal plastic. Compostable packaging could prove to be a positive alternative to single use plastic in the future, but we currently lack the infrastructure to make this a reality.
Many companies are switching from plastic to paper options. Cardboard boxes are biodegradable and can be used to package most products. However, when you buy bespoke boxes from a manufacturer, there is still a sizeable carbon footprint attached. Even if you buy cardboard boxes made from recycled content, new pulp still needs to be added in to the old material and the process still requires vast amounts of energy and water.
It is difficult, if not impossible to find a newly manufactured packaging option that does not negatively affect the environment.
2. Opt for reusable or refillable packaging
If you really want to be a front runner in sustainability, you need to move away from looking at the material you are using to package your products and instead focus on what is happening to your packaging waste. Truly sustainable packaging that supports a circular economy is reusable. Until we have the infrastructure to deal with our waste, the best option is to design out waste, keep packaging in use for longer, which will allow our natural resources to regenerate. These are the main principles of the circular economy as defined by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.
Reuseabox provide a range of used cardboard boxes suitable for packaging most products. Standard sizes include A4 boxes, removals boxes, even larger shipping boxes such as pallet boxes and octabins. Opting for once used packaging over newly manufactured packaging is quicker, cheaper and much better for the environment. In fact, for every tonne, that’s around 7 pallets of used cardboard boxes that you buy instead of new ones, you are saving around 17 trees. And don’t worry if you need to package your products in new packaging, Reuseabox also supply a large range of brand new redundant stock, typically factory overruns or misprints. These boxes give you all the benefits of reuse but with brand new ‘unwanted’ packaging.
By choosing to reuse, you are sending a powerful message to your customers about your commitment to sustainability.
3. Choose biodegradable void fill
When you’ve chosen your new or used sustainable packaging, you may need to add some void fill to protect your product. If you’ve chosen the right size box for your product, the box itself should offer adequate protection. However you may need extra protection for more delicate items. It’s best to avoid plastic or compostable alternatives. Shredded cardboard makes excellent eco-friendly void fill. Cardboard is low cost and has excellent cushioning properties. You could also try recycled paper or an eco-friendly plastic free bubble-wrap, Hexcel.
For more details on sustainable packaging options, check out our website or contact us on 0800 2465731.