Social pressures are pushing companies to adopt packaging that is sustainable, reusable, and/or recyclable. While most would agree this is a great move, many brands that start down the eco-friendly packaging path end up reverting back to continuing what they have always been doing. We mainly see this happening for three reasons:
1. Lack of understanding about the many ways packaging can be sustainable
2. Sticker shock at the cost of the switch
3. The misconception that sustainable, reusable, and/or recyclable means bland and boring
There are many ways packaging can be eco-friendly. And, using eco-friendly materials does not have to be dull and bland. Progressive packaging designers can employ innovative thinking to re-design your packaging while using eco-friendly materials is one of the most necessary and popular ways to begin selling and distributing your products.
Recyclable Pulp and Papers
One way to develop sustainable packaging is by using folding cartons made from recycled materials. Paper pulp is processed by chemicals that remove all ink and unwanted printing on paper – therefore, making it an extremely popular material for eco-friendly packaging. Using molded paper pulp instead of Styrofoam for cushioning products inside outer containers benefits our environment. Styrofoam is not a recyclable material; however, it is still often used as a cushion for products in many packages. Eliminating Styrofoam as the go-to material for cushioning will successfully be the step towards sustainability the environment is in desperate need of.
Reusable Bottles and Jars
Plastic products are also a huge opportunity for sustainability in packaging design. In the past 10 years, there has been a major trend of reducing plastics in things like water/liquid bottles and plastic rings in canned 6-packs. Many informative websites such as Ban the Bottle have proven that Americans use about 50 million water bottles a year; however, our recycling rate is only about 23% – meaning that about $1 billion worth of water bottles are dumped in landfills each year. Many brands have taken the glass bottle route instead of using plastics which enables their product to be reusable by consumers. There has been a rising awareness of the effect that plastic straws have on the environment and there has been a concerted effort to combat this with innovations like metal straws which are reusable. Certain glass bottles and jars lend themselves more readily to being repurposed by the consumer, so why not give your customers packaging that creatively inspires them to reuse?
There is a challenge with being “sustainable” because the high cost in packaging often scares brands away; however, consumers will pay a little more to support the environment. Using social media, advisements and packaging content itself is a direct way to communicate your dedication to the environment and justify the higher cost of the product. According to an interview CNBC did with Nestlé chairman Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, there has been a tremendous change in the thought process of the consuming youth. Millennials are on the hunt for affordable prices with the most environmentally friendly option, while 20 years ago the focus was price alone. Nestlé is not alone with this sustainability shift – Deal Design’s client, Reef sandals, has made a significant change in the manufacturing of their products to make them eco-friendly. Reef is now including Eco-One® additives in products to speed biodegradability of sandals in landfills. There is a high chance that recyclable products and packaging will soon become a world-wide norm –so get onboard now before your product is left to drown in our oceans.
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