How to Choose Your Packaging Materials and Promote Sustainability


Adam PeekVP at Meyers Printing

Friday, August 26, 2022

Eco-friendly packaging is thriving in popularity as the public leans towards recyclable packaging. In this post, learn what sustainable packaging is and how you can implement it in your business.

Article 5 Minutes
How to Choose Your Packaging Materials and Promote Sustainability

Today, anything that screams eco-friendly quickly captures consumers’ attention as more people are becoming opposed to the environmental problems brought about by plastics.

Packaging is so prevalent in people's daily lives that the average western consumer handles more than 50 packaged products and items daily. Manufacturing regular packaging uses a lot of resources, generates air emissions and produces wastewater with toxic contaminants. What’s more, disposing of these packaging can contribute to landfill waste which may take hundreds of years to decompose.

The environmental impact of single-use plastic packaging has driven people to become more conscious of their consumer contributions. As a result, eco-friendly and sustainable packaging have become popular as the public leans towards minimizing waste.

What is sustainable packaging?

Sustainable packaging is the development and use of packaging materials that minimize their impact on the environment. This involves a life cycle assessment of packaging choices to reduce their environmental impact and ecological footprint, which involves considering the big picture: its usage in the supply chain, basic function, marketing, customer usefulness and what happens at the end of its life.

What makes packaging ‘green’?

Green packaging employs materials and production practices that reduce energy consumption and the environmental impact of packaging.

Instead of materials such as plastic and Styrofoam, green packing solutions frequently opt for biodegradable and recyclable materials. Green manufacturing processes also take initiatives to limit their power output and the number of greenhouse emissions they emit.

4 factors to consider when choosing a packaging material for your product

  1. Nature of your product. When choosing product packaging, it’s crucial to consider the nature of your product. The packaging material you choose shouldn’t interfere or react with the product in any way.
  2. Sustainability: Many people opt for sustainable products or products from companies that are committed to sustainability. Making sure that you're partnering with suppliers who reduce or eliminate toxic chemicals is a crucial element and step towards sustainable packaging.
  3. Transportation and distribution. These factors are significant if your products must be transported and distributed over long distances. For example, durable packaging material is necessary if your product must be transported between warehouses or across the country. On the other hand, a material designed for freezing or chilling is important if your product must be transported or stored in those conditions.
  4. Branding interests. Keep your branding interests in mind when selecting the best product packaging. The packaging material you choose should be compatible with your company's value and branding. For brands who prefer to print the company's logo on the packaging, look for materials that will hold up well during the printing process.

How can companies make their packaging more sustainable?

  1. Apply a life cycle approach: Sustainable packaging is more than just a measure or a plan; it’s a life cycle approach that considers consumption and emission aspects from the beginning to the end of the design process. The use of life cycle assessment can help identify areas for improvement and prevent shifting the burden of a packaging's impacts.
  2. Consider the product and packaging relationship: One can’t exist without the other. Packaging transports goods, protects them from spoiling and informs customers about important information. Packaging that isn't appropriate for the goods can lead to spoiling or over-packaging. Focus on proper sizing and material selection for the best fit and delivery of your products.
  3. Decide on a sustainable labeling and marketing strategy. It’s crucial to communicate your stance on sustainability, especially to consumers. Companies are looking for methods to create relevant and truthful claims that are appealing to customers. Recyclability and sourcing information must be communicated properly, among other things.

3 sustainable packaging strategies and ideas

There are many factors to consider when switching to sustainable packaging, including strategizing for the process. The following should help you get started.

Go minimal

You've heard of the phrase "less is more." In the realm of packaging design, it's certainly become a significant trend. Your products will have a cleaner, more appealing appearance if you choose minimalist packaging. It also reduces waste and helps save resources.

Use alternative materials

There’s no need to use plastic or other products that harm the environment when there are so many alternatives. You should conduct some research to find other options that are within your budget and won't degrade the quality of your packaging—for example, using non-toxic ink instead of chemical ink.

Make your packaging reusable

The packaging you use is vital to preserving your goods, but how much of it is thrown by your customers, and how can you make it useful long after the product has been used?

For example, if you sell coffee, you can use a reusable coffee cup (can be optional) in your packaging. You can ship garments in a nice tote bag if you sell them. Think of an idea that fits with what you're offering.

Examples of environmentally friendly packaging

  • Biodegradable plastics: Also known as oxo-degradable plastics, these are developed and sold in many nations, with consumers knowing that they safely biodegrade in nature.
  • Corrugated cardboard: Recyclable paper and/or cardboard is easily the most common and readily available eco-friendly material for packaging (think of the box Apple products come in). They also come in different sizes and shapes.
  • Organic fabrics: Organic fabrics serve as a great alternative to most packaging materials. These are often made from materials like hemp, recycled cotton, tapioca, palm leaves, and other organics.
  • Poly mailers: Made from recycled content, poly mailers are plastic that can be stored and reused again and again.
  • Green wrap: A ready-to-use paper packaging wrap that comes in a roll, green wrap helps protect and cushion fragile items. It's the cost-effective, biodegradable, and green alternative to bubble wraps.

Final thoughts

Packaging is one of the vital factors that can either turn your product into a success or flop. Using the right packaging and implementing eye-catching design attracts customers.

But as consumers grow concerned about the environment, it's crucial to listen to them and do your part in promoting sustainability through eco-friendly packaging. Reducing waste and implementing sustainable practices can set your business apart from your competitors.

Adam Peek

Adam Peek is a father of 5, husband of 1. He is also the People of Packaging podcast host and a VP at Meyers Printing. His passion for changing the world has also led him to be a sustainability consultant, sales trainer, global keynote speaker/preacher, soon-to-be Children’s Book author…and a part-time rapper.


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