5 Ways to Make Your Packaging More Sustainable
#1 Opt for sustainable materials
Making this switch is one of the simplest and most known swaps a company can make to improve their sustainability goals and lessen their impact on the environment. Though there are many different options to choose from, they're not all equal. They do, however, all have one thing in common: they can help lower your carbon footprint! Read on to learn about some of the popular options available in the market.
Post-Consumer Recycled Materials (PCR)
Post consumer recycled materials refers to everything that we (the consumers) toss into our recycling bins. This includes items such as plastic water bottles, aluminum cans, cardboard boxes, paper, and more. This option is beneficial because it creates a demand for recycled materials and recycling in general. The more we do this, the lower the cost will become over time. According to the Maryland Department of Environmental Protection, when manufacturers use recycled materials instead of raw, they help to reduce air and water pollution associated with manufacturing, conserve natural resources, and decrease greenhouse gas emissions.
While PCR materials cannot be recycled again they still make a big impact and require less resources to make than virgin materials. Switching from virgin plastics to PCR plastics alone can reduce a carbon footprint by 60%, according to Copious Bags. Companies who opt for PCR materials are able to fulfill their sustainability goals before their product even makes it to the consumer.
On the other end of the spectrum, we have recyclable shipping materials that have not yet been through the recycling process (like PCR) and can be processed into new products at the end of their lifecycle with proper disposal. It is important to note that recyclable materials differ from PCR in that they are made from virgin materials that have never assumed a previous form, meaning they do require more energy and resources to produce.
Biodegradable and compostable materials are similar in the sense that they break down over time. The key differentiator between the two is that compostable materials are actually organic matter and have many beneficial uses such as improving soil health and fertilizing, according to this article by Nature’s Path. Additionally, biodegradable materials require stricter conditions in order to break down at their intended speed.
This form of compostable packaging is made with seeds embedded. This allows your end consumer to create life instead of waste when discarding shipping materials. Not only is this a great way to lessen your environmental footprint and showcase your commitment to sustainability, but it’s also a great way to create an experience for your recipients that will be sure to keep you top of mind!
#2 Ditch the packing peanuts and choose sustainable alternatives
When it comes to protecting what's inside your packages, ditch the packing peanuts and opt for more eco-friendly options like SpiroPack or Flexi-Hex. These alternative options are not only better for the environment, but they also allow for curbside recycling (depending on the city), unlike packaging peanuts. Additionally, options such as these also free up space so that you are able to fit more into your box space. Talk about increasing your bang for your buck!
#3 Design your packaging with reuse in mind
Designing your packaging with reuse in mind can help extend its life cycle right off the bat and normalize packaging reuse (leading to less waste in the landfill even after their purchase).
Try adding a QR code on the box with creative ways that they can reuse their packaging. You can get as creative as you like here or simply design visually pleasing packaging that can work for gifting and storage around the home. Check out these innovative examples below for inspo.👇
Don’t just stop there; reusing and repurposing can go beyond shipping materials too! Go the extra mile and give your recipients ideas on how to re-use their product packaging as well. Whether it's a perfume bottle, skincare jar, or a branded zipper pouch, there are many ways to re-purpose your product packaging to give it a second life.
Click here to check out how Cocokind utilizes Instagram Reels to share repurposing ideas with their followers for their product packaging.
#4 Eliminate void fill all together by using custom-sized boxes
Opting for custom-sized packaging is a great way to decrease your carbon footprint by using less materials. As a bonus - smaller boxes mean cheaper shipping costs, so it really is a win-win.
#5 Limit the use of mixed packaging materials
Mixing different materials such as plastic, cardboard, and paper makes your packaging become that much more difficult to recycle. This is because certain items need to be separated before they enter the sorting facilities, making it more labor intensive for the end consumer and the recycling companies.
When we limit the amount of mixed materials in our packaging, we can significantly improve the likelihood of it actually being recycled. Additionally, we can lessen some of the burden that our end-consumers need to deal with when it comes to properly discarding these materials.
Bonus Tip: Make the switch to recyclable packaging tape
Making the switch to recyclable paper tape comes with many pros like allowing for a custom branded touch to your packages! Not only does this tape help reduce your carbon footprint, but it also makes for an affordable way to let your end consumer know exactly who the package sitting on their front doorstep is from. Additionally, it is 100% recyclable so this increases the chances of your packing making it through the recycling system at the end of its lifecycle as it eliminates one more step that consumers are often aware about (removing the tape and labels before heading to the recycling bin).