Sustainable Packaging: How to Reduce Your Company’s Packaging Footprint?

Consumers are becoming more and more aware of the impact that businesses have on the environment, and are increasingly demanding that companies comply with environmentally friendly policies or opting to spend their money with those that do. As a result businesses need to find ways to be more sustainable in their operations and reduce their carbon footprint. One aspect they can look at is packaging.

Packaging is one of the main reasons for the accumulation of waste materials globally. In this article, we will walk you through some of the ways businesses can reduce and redesign packaging to make it more eco-friendly.

Switch to biodegradable packaging

One of the best ways to make your packaging environmentally sustainable is to switch to biodegradable packaging. You can choose raw materials that have zero impact on the environment, like cardboard, Kraft paper, cornstarch, sugar cane, and hemp. Or you could go with cardboard boxes that have been made from recycled materials — they cost less and they help save trees. 

Some types of plastic — like PET and HDPE — have no negative environmental impact. If you currently use plastic that’s not eco-friendly, consider switching to one of these alternatives instead.

Choose materials that already exist. Using recycled goods reduces the need for new material and cuts down on CO2 emissions.

Optimize your packaging

It’s not just the type of material you use though; it’s how much of it you use too. When it comes to making your product more sustainable and efficient, less is often more. Reducing the amount of packaging material you use by implementing better designs is not only good for the environment, it’s also a great way to conserve resources and cut costs. Smart packaging solutions can also help you fit more items on per pallet, truck and ship, which translates into even more savings to the environment and your pocket.

Many companies have already made significant headway with such initiatives to reduce the environmental impact of packaging.

Apple, for example, reduced its packaging by 70% by removing the interior cardboard box that housed the iPhone. The retail box was redesigned so it served as both the shipping package and the display box consumers see in stores. This redesign not only saves Apple $1 million annually, it also help the company reduce its carbon emissions by 3,600 metric tonnes per year, and saves 300,000 trees per annum

Apple also shifted towards using 100% recycled paper for its retail packaging and prints on it with soy-based ink. Before this redesign, all of Apple’s retail packaging was made of virgin material and printed with petroleum-based ink.

Apple may be a fantastic case study, but it’s definitely not the only one. Many companies have started adopting environmentally friendly packaging designs. Another globally recognized example is General Mills, who redesigned their Nature Valley Granola Bar Boxes so they use 25% less material than before, and redesigned their Yoplait yogurt lids so they contain 30% less plastic than they did before.

Make your packaging reusable

Think of ways to design packaging so that it can function more than simply as packaging. For example, if you sell a product such as electronics, consider using a box that can later be repurposed as a gift box or storage container.

Instead of shipping out products in a box or mailing envelope, use a container that your customers can easily reuse. This is especially useful if you sell items that need to be shipped back and forth, such as clothing and accessories for repairs or alterations.

Get rid of product instruction booklets

Find ways to publish them online instead or print them on the packaging itself. The same goes for product warranty information — this can just be printed on a card inside the package as opposed to an instruction booklet, which will save both paper and money.

Find ways to reuse your current materials

Reduce expenses by upcycling materials that you already have instead of investing in packaging. Check supply closets and storage areas for free or inexpensive supplies that would otherwise be thrown away.

Find new ways to package products together so they don’t need as much wrapping. For example, instead of putting an individual product in its cardboard box, try putting several small items in one box together so there are fewer boxes overall.

Consider “frustration-free” packaging

Amazon has a packaging-free shipping initiative for small items shipped in bulk. Called “frustration-free” packaging, Amazon recommends using biodegradable plastic bags or envelopes to package small items. This can make it easier to ship smaller items in bulk, without the need for oversized boxes and additional packing material.

These packages consist of a box with an opening on one side, which is usually sealed with something like a strip of tape or a perforated line that can easily be broken by hand. The products slide into the box individually, but the box is still sturdy enough to ship without additional packing materials. The cost savings are passed along to both the seller and customer.

Smaller products (such as batteries and small electronics) that qualify for frustration-free packaging are shipped in a clear plastic bag and a simple white corrugated fiberboard box sealed with one of four easy-to-open designs.

Conclusion

The packaging industry is rapidly evolving. As the demand for sustainability and efficiency increases, many companies are making efforts to reduce their packaging’s environmental impact.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, packaging accounts for 30% of solid waste in landfills. And, if we continue on this path, by 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean.

We need to take some action to reduce our impact on the environment. And reducing packaging waste is a great place to start. We, at Carbon Credit Capital, are helping businesses be more sustainable in their products and processes. We can also help you uncover ways you can redesign packaging.