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How to Start Your Company’s Sustainability Journey with Eco-Friendly Packaging

Written By: Leslie Taylor | Article Date: March 26, 2022

How to Start Your Company’s Sustainability Journey with Eco-Friendly Packaging

The COVID-19 pandemic brought the whole world to a halt and overturned routines and activities we took for granted as extreme lockdowns were enforced on a global scale. However, there was still something good that came out of the crisis.

The pandemic propelled the significant growth of the e-commerce industry as old businesses migrated online to stay afloat in the new normal and new businesses owned by individuals who coped through monetizable hobbies and passion projects significantly increased in platforms such as Etsy and Instagram.

Although it was great that COVID further strengthened – and in some cases, awakened – the entrepreneurial spirit of many, the surge of online shops came with a price: it also caused a heightened demand for packaging materials.

Eco-Friendly Packaging and Why It Matters

According to a 2017 study by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, nearly 86 million tons of plastic packaging are produced globally every year and only 14% of these are being recycled. The rest often ends up in landfills, or worse, in natural environments. For instance, the film and wrap in bubble mailers aren’t accepted in most curbside recycling programs, says Greenpeace senior plastics campaigner David Pinsky.

This is why consumers are now putting a premium on sustainability over cost and convenience. In fact, according to a survey conducted by IBM and the US National Retail Federation, 57% of 19,000 participants across 28 countries said that they are willing to change their purchasing habits to lessen their negative environmental impact.

By shifting to eco-friendly product packaging, you reduce your business’ carbon footprint and gain the trust and loyalty of your customers.

Tips to Make Your Product Packaging More Sustainable

As defined by the Sustainable Packaging Coalition, sustainable packaging:

  • Is beneficial, safe, and healthy for individuals and communities throughout its life cycle
  • Meets market criteria for performance and cost
  • Is sourced, manufactured, transported, and recycled using renewable energy
  • Optimizes the use of renewable or recycled source materials
  • Is manufactured using clean production technologies and best practices
  • Is made from materials healthy throughout the life cycle
  • Is physically designed to optimize materials and energy
  • Is effectively recovered and utilized in biological and/or industrial closed loop cycles

The criteria may seem like a lot to take in, but you can easily start your business’ shift to eco-friendly packaging with these four tips.

Maximize space to minimize waste

Receiving small items in mailer boxes that are a tad too big is a shared experience by many. Poorly sized packaging compromises the safety of its contents, consumes excess space during transit, and generates more waste. An easy solution would be to shift to custom packaging, so you can house your products in boxes or containers that fit them perfectly. If you own a food retail business, you can explore flexible packaging such as pouches since they take up less space and use less materials and energy to produce compared to jars and cans.

Choose recyclable or biodegradable materials (or both!)

Many countries have been moving away from single-use plastic for good reason: aside from being harmful to the environment, plastics can cause severe damage to our health once they get in our bodies. A common example of single-use plastic are plastic grocery bags, which can be replaced with eco-friendly alternatives that won’t break the bank.

Paper bags, for instance, can be recycled with other paper products like corrugated cardboard and are accepted in most recycling centers if they’re free from contaminants such as ink and food particles. Since these are also 100% biodegradable, you can even encourage your customers to add them to the compost bin.

There’s also water-activated tape (also known as gummed tape) – a starch-based adhesive with a kraft paper backing that can seal shipping and mailer boxes just as well as ordinary packaging tape. Bubble mailers may not be easily recyclable but since they’re highly resistant to wear and tear, they can be repurposed in various ways instead. They can be used:

  • As storage for bills and documents
  • As a tougher and more secure alternative to gift wrappers
  • To mail another item – just peel off the label or cover with your own!

Go digital with your custom packaging

Compared to traditional printing such as offset lithography and flexographic, digital printing requires less equipment and reduces both physical and chemical waste. Gone are the days when printers had to create custom plates to produce a few copies when customers request a proof. With digital printing, you only need to email the design to the printing company and they can send you back the proof in electronic format for approval.

Partner with a local packaging supplier

It goes without saying that finding a printing company that’s within proximity is more cost-efficient and environmentally friendly than outsourcing. Less transport time doesn’t just mean fewer carbon emissions, it also gives your business an edge since rush orders are easier to fulfill and it’s easier to offer better prices to customers. Sure, it can be tempting to order in bulk from low-cost overseas suppliers, but once you take the unpredictable shipping delays, the amount of paperwork, communication issues, and hidden costs, you will realize that buying local is the smart way to go.

Start Your Sustainability Journey With NextDayFlyers

Make the shift to custom packaging with a highly trusted online printing services company like NextDayFlyers. Choose from several custom packaging options available and upload your design or create your own with our easy-to-use online 3D design tool. We have multiple locations across the US and we require no minimum quantity for all orders.