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Five Ways Sustainable Package Design Can Give Back

Five Ways Sustainable Package Design Can Give Back

Ellie Karrasch, Nov 6, 2018

More and more shoppers are considering the entire lifecycle of a product and its impact on the environment as part of their decision to choose a brand. Here are five ways your product packaging can reduce its environmental impact or even sustain life.

1. Substitute an Environmentally Friendly Alternative

Waste is becoming more prevalent throughout the world’s ecosystems. The global consumption of plastic packaged goods is at an all-time high, but consumers are beginning to demand change. The European Union’s ban on single-use plastics will soon be felt throughout the globe. Several manufacturing companies are already redefining the way we stay hydrated.

Paper Water Bottle is a company that develops molded fiber eco-packaging. Their flagship product is a compostable bottle shaped from recycled bamboo or palm leaf sheet stock. This fully customizable package is manufactured with eco-friendly processes that not only decreases energy output but also reduces the amount of exterior packaging required for distribution.

It’s common for consumers to see milk and juice packaged in cartons, but selling water in a carton is truly out of the box. Brands such as Just Water and Boxed Water formed around the inception of carton-packed water. These companies leveraged the sustainability efforts of bottle manufacturers, such as Tetra Pak, to help decrease the impact of plastic on our planet.

Boxed-Water-CharmCity_Sustainable_PackagingPhoto Courtesy of Charm City Beverage

Sustainable water bottles and cartons are certainly not where it ends with fully compostable products. In the world of flexible packaging, TIPA has introduced a food-safe bio-material that behaves like plastic. Products you use daily — such as sandwich bags, resealable pouches, snack wrappers, and ventable coffee bags — can now be made compostable and will safely decompose.

2. Stay Strong While Using Fewer Materials

Efforts to expand the potential of molded pulp packaging have resulted in an industry-wide perspective shift. Traditionally appearing as a contoured tray or as cushioning inside of a box, product manufacturers are seeing a renewed sense of value in molded pulp as a shelf-ready package. This substrate has the potential to provide a broad range of tailor-made package solutions. It offers reliable protection, improves sustainability and can increase production and distribution efficiencies. In addition, contoured packaging helps the product inside retain its form without relying on extra packing materials and can provide a more stable and stackable shape on the shelf.

3. Be Repurposed

In an ideal world, manufacturers would source completely biodegradable retail packaging, consumers would make the effort to recycle and waste management practices would lessen the impact of post-consumer products on our environment. Despite great strides in post-consumer recycled packaging, these ideals are not always attainable. The next best thing? Reuse!

Companies are choosing to take reusability to the next level - a decision that is affecting every aspect of their corporate culture. By honing in on ideals that their target market values, corporations are fostering change and reaping the benefits of environmental marketing. 

  • Little Duck Organics took plantable to a whole new level by introducing seed-infused packaging.
  • In a comprehensive effort to reduce their impact on the planet, Starbucks partnered with Pentatonic to transform coffee cup waste into store furniture crafted from P.E.T.  
  • P.E.T fabrics are also being used by companies like Rothy’s

PackWorld-Blueberry_Cinnamon_Mighty_Oats_Sustainable_PackagingPhoto Courtesy of Packaging World

4. Be Smart - Get Active

Two forms of packaging are being used to provide consumers with increasingly fresh food.

Active packaging relies on oxygen scavengers and antimicrobial agents to extend the shelf-life of a product. These safeguards are either placed inside the container along with the product or introduced directly into the packaging material to reduce deterioration due to moisture or oxygen.

Intelligent packaging detects product changes based on time, environmental conditions and shifts in the chemical composition of the product itself. This information is communicated with specialty labeling and can be monitored throughout the distribution channel.

5. Go Cellular

Consider replacing your existing polystyrene or polyethylene foam with a mushroom-based alternative. The structurally complex fibers in fungi called mycelium can be grown into just about any shape imaginable.

(We'd love to try this one. Anyone willing to take the leap with us?!)

myco-foam-bear_1024x1024_Sustainable_PackagingPhoto Courtesy of Ecovative

The environmental impact of packaging is becoming a huge factor in customers’ decision-making process when it comes time to buy. For food manufacturers touting an organic product, sustainable packaging seems like an obvious choice. Not only will this help align your package to your core brand mission, but the health-minded shopper will find added value in a package that as healthy as the product inside. Manufacturers can appeal to these conscientious shoppers and help the planet by considering these 5 sustainable alternatives to the traditional package.

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