What Is Sustainable Packaging?

The environment is a hot topic at the moment. With concerns about global warming increasing, landfill sites reaching maximum capacity and irreparable damage being done to the world’s forests and oceans, it’s becoming clear that action needs to be taken. You only have to place an Amazon order to see for yourself that excess packaging is one of the biggest causes of waste, which is why businesses are seeking out sustainable packaging solutions. To help break it down, we’ve explored exactly what’s involved in eco packaging.

What Makes Packaging Sustainable?

You’re probably familiar with the concept of sustainability; making sure that our actions aren’t causing damage to the planet for future generations. But how does it apply to packaging? There are several things that contribute to sustainable packaging but, essentially, the materials used need to be causing as little damage as possible throughout their lifecycle. It’s tough for businesses to fulfil all of these criteria, which is why eco packaging is so rare at the moment.

  • Manufactured And Transported Using Renewable Energy

To be truly considered as eco-friendly packaging, the materials used need to have been sourced, produced and transported using renewable energy. Fossil fuels are a leading cause of the world’s environmental issues, from pollution to climate change, and for this reason, businesses around the world are being urged to cut down on their use and opt for renewable energy instead.

Even if renewable energy sources are used in the manufacturing process, there’s still transport to consider. Imagine how many trucks are transporting goods on a daily basis in the UK alone. Now magnify that problem to a global scale! Sustainability simply can’t be achieved with road transport, and it’s widely recommended that rail is considered instead.

  • Recycled Or Renewable Materials

The most obvious factor for making eco packaging is choosing recycled or renewable materials. It’s all too common for petrochemical products to be used to create packaging materials, which is far from environmentally friendly. Instead, wherever possible biodegradable or renewable materials, such as card and compostable boxes, should be used so packaging can be recycled instead of making a one way trip to the landfill site. The challenge for manufacturers is to find materials that last beyond one use.

How Sustainable Packaging Is Already Being Used

A number of global companies are already taking steps to make their packaging more sustainable. The sportswear brand Puma made headlines in 2010 when they scrapped shoeboxes in favour of reusable cloth bags, which are far more environmentally friendly. The company claimed that this simple change would save 500,000 litres of diesel, 1 million litres of water and 20 million mega joules of electricity! It’s hoped that other retailers will follow Puma’s lead with their own eco-friendly packaging.

Alongside pizza boxes and crisp packets, toothpaste tubes are one of the top household packaging products that aren’t recyclable. Colgate-Palmolive are trying to change this by making sustainable packaging. They have committed to making 100% of their packaging recyclable in three product areas, including creating a recyclable toothpaste tube.

If top industry giants manage to achieve eco packaging for all products, it will open up doors for smaller businesses. Companies designing their own eco-friendly packaging undergo a complex process and face a series of challenges, which are both time consuming and costly. For many, this simply isn’t attainable and there’s currently no easy solution to the world’s environmental problems.