As consumers, it's up to all of us, of course, to be more responsible in the choices we make. To think about the resources we use and how they impact the wider world. But arguably it's the businesses selling to those consumers that have the chance to lead the way and make the biggest difference.
With that in mind, perhaps it's time for all businesses shipping to customers around the world to think about the packaging they use and consider moving to more eco-friendly and sustainable alternatives.
Eco-friendly is a catch-all term for all kinds of packaging that is – for one reason or another – considered better for the environment. This could be due to the material it'smade from. But it could also be because it's reusable or recyclable, requires less raw material to begin with, or its manufacturing process is more energy efficient.
Sustainable, on the other hand, refers to packaging made from materials that are renewable and compostable, or otherwise biodegradable. Certain plastics such as PET or HDPE, for example, may be recyclable and therefore considered eco-friendly. But they can only be recycled so many times before being sent to landfill or incinerated, so they could never be considered truly sustainable.
Aside from the obvious environmental reasons for switching to more eco-friendly packaging options, there are plenty of compelling commercial reasons for making the change too.
At a time when we're all looking to reduce our carbon emissions, using packaging solutions that are reusable, recyclable or made from recycled materials can have a big impact. In particular, opting for recycled content packaging can support efforts to reduce your carbon footprint by conserving natural resources, reducing emissions during manufacture and supporting the shift towards a circular economy.
By choosing eco-friendly packaging, you can contribute to a cleaner, greener world, reducing the amount of waste sent to landfill and microplastics that leach into the earth. Indeed, many compostable packaging options can actually restore nutrients to the ground, boost soil health and support a healthy eco-system.
Governments worldwide are introducing new laws to curb the use of ununsustainable packaging, and encouraging eco-friendly business practices with incentives to support new packaging choices and minimise waste. Sustainable packaging is the future, so it makes good sense to to start laying the foundations now.
Eco-friendly packaging is one of the most immediate ways you can demonstrate your commitment to the environment. Using sustainable packaging indicates a broader sense of responsibility and concern for the planet, which is something both existing and potential customers will soon pick up on.
More than ever, consumers are aware of the environmental impact of plastic packaging, and they are demanding change. Across the globe, consumers are searching for packaging that can be disposed of easily and responsibly, without creating waste or micro-plastics that damage the environment.
So you see, there are lots of reasons to switch more eco-friendly packaging solutions. But what are the options out there? Let's take a look at some of the alternatives to materials you're probably using now.
Of course, some of these options will carry a price premium over their non-sustainable counterparts. And you'll need to consider whether or not they're suitable for the products you ship. But switching to sustainable packaging is something all businesses will need to explore. So if you haven't already, here are a few tips to help you get things started.
Look at your products and the packaging you use to ship each one. Consider what packaging you could substitute with more eco-friendly alternatives, and importantly where you could cut down on packaging you simply don’t need.
Customers will tell you what matters to them and importantly what they'd be willing to pay for more eco-friendly packaging. Employees on the front-line may have ideas on how to reduce waste, and switch to more eco-friendly options.
Be sure to set short and long-term goals. Your short-term goals should be quick wins to drive momentum. Long-term goals may involve a little more financial commitment and more comprehensive changes to your supply chain.
Research supply chain partners that align with your green goals. Your aim should be to form positive and collaborative relationships, and support each other in developing more sustainable materials and supply chain processes.
Start with small-scale alterations, like switching to recycled materials. Then think strategically and set goals for the bigger changes, such as removing plastics from your supply chain altogether.
Sourcing eco-friendly packaging materials now will help you stay ahead of changing legislation, so you’ll be well prepared as the business landscape continues to evolve. Consider these hidden cost savings when drawing up your budget.
As well as achieving cost efficiencies, bulk-buying packaging is better for the planet, because ordering larger consignments reduces the number of deliveries and therefore the emissions involved in bringing the materials to you.
Without keeping track of the green improvements you’ve made, it can be hard to assess the impact of changes you've introduced. So conduct regular reviews to identify how you can streamline your packaging and distribution processes further.