Addressing Sustainability Issues in the Packaging Industry

Addressing sustainability in the packaging industry

Sustainable packaging is one of the top packaging trends of 2023, and with good reason. In the past, consumers paid little attention to product packaging. As the world has shifted focus, people care more about where their products come from and whether the businesses they choose are committed to sustainability. 

Ignoring the sustainable packaging trend can significantly affect your business, alienating many eco-conscious consumers. Paying attention to your packaging can enhance your brand reputation, connect you with your customers and help the environment. Making the shift to more eco-friendly packaging and waste reduction is critical for businesses. 

What Is Packaging Waste?

When you ship your product to a store or online buyer, you use packaging to protect and market your product. Packaging waste is the parts of the packaging the consumer throws away, destined for a landfill where it has significant pollutant effects on our environment. 

Packaging is the largest market use for plastic, resulting in almost half of the plastic waste produced worldwide. In the U.S. alone, we had 35.7 million tons of plastic in 2018. The use of plastic in packaging is a serious environmental issue, and packaging companies and their customers must look at effective alternatives to reduce the plastic pollution packaging creates. 

One element of choosing sustainable packaging is doing the right thing for the environment. The other is the customer. More consumers are concerned with buying from eco-friendly manufacturers and often consider a company’s environmental footprint before purchasing. 

Examples of Packaging Waste

Packaging waste is a broad term that can refer to several materials. If it ends up in a landfill, you can consider it packaging waste. Some of the most common forms of packaging waste include the following:

  • Shipping material waste: When consumers order online, their products are often repackaged in bubble wrap, styrofoam, and plastic wrap for shipping. Much of this additional packaging is thrown away immediately. 
  • Plastic: Plastic doesn’t degrade over time, so once in a landfill, it stays there. Single-use plastic packaging, like food wrappers, is detrimental to the environment. 
  • Metals: Steel and aluminum are common in food tins and foil containers, although you may find other metals in packaging. 

These are just a few packaging waste examples, some of which we can recycle. 

Packaging Waste in the Product Lifecycle

The packaging consumers receive the last piece in a long and detailed life cycle of packaging waste. To understand how much waste a product can generate, we need to consider the product life cycle as a whole. Some examples of packaging waste in the product life cycle include the following:

  • Product development: Products go through several prototyping stages in the development stage, and so does packaging. Manufacturers can create packaging waste whenever they create and ship a new prototype. 
  • Manufacturing: One product often requires materials from multiple manufacturers, each packaged and shipped, creating waste. Some products have packaging requirements, like food products or international shipping protocols, which can lead to additional packaging, 
  • Brand competition: Many brands use strategic packaging design to differentiate their products. The desire to maintain a competitive edge can lead to extra packaging they discard after opening. 
  • Shipping: Many people prefer to shop online and have their packages delivered. Manufacturers use additional packaging material to ensure products aren’t damaged during shipping. 
  • In-store shopping: When people go to the store, they often leave with extra plastic bags and other packaging, adding to the waste issue. 
Benefits of switching to sustainable packaging

The Benefits of Switching to Sustainable Packaging

Although switching to sustainable packaging may require upfront costs, the benefits are significant. They can lead to reduced costs in the long term. Sustainable packaging has multiple benefits for the environment and businesses, including the following:

Decreasing Pollution and Reducing Your Carbon Footprint

Much of the nonbiodegradable packaging we use ends up in the environment. Sustainable packaging will reduce plastic pollution’s effects on wildlife, their ecosystems, and human health. When landfills are full, their contents are incinerated to make room for more waste, which releases harmful toxins into the air. The global use of sustainable packaging could improve the earth’s air quality. 

Using sustainable packaging can help you reduce your carbon dioxide emissions, which matters to more consumers yearly. 

Lowering Costs

Finite, nonrecyclable materials will likely become more expensive over time. Sustainable packaging forms part of the supply chain, helping businesses avoid sudden price changes and shortages. In other words, recycling your packaging can save you money in the long term. 

Sustainable packaging can also lower your overhead costs. It’s often lighter than the alternative, making shipping less expensive. Creating packaging return systems for customers also minimizes the need to develop new packaging. Many businesses offer customers the option of returning their packaging for a discount on their next purchase. They can sterilize and reuse this packaging, saving the time and money required to create them. 

Building Brand Loyalty

Many consumers have a sense of social responsibility, and modern consumers are willing to spend more on sustainable products. They’re likely to align with businesses that share the same sustainability goals and avoid those not interested in reducing their environmental impact. 

More importantly, consumers often return to businesses with the same sustainability focus, so using sustainable packaging can create a loyal customer base for your business. 

Boosting Retention and Company Culture

Many employees share the same sustainability focus as your customers. In fact, 72% of employees working for organizations with sustainability programs say they rarely consider looking for another job. Working for an eco-friendly business makes them feel good about their work, which leads to increased retention rates and a more collaborative company culture. 

Putting Customers First

Many sustainable packaging options are free of allergens and harmful toxins. In the world of the consumer who wants to know what’s in the products they buy, providing them with healthier options is an excellent way to connect with your customers and show you genuinely care about their health, well-being and personal choices. 

Increasing Sales

When your company contributes positively to sustainability, you’ll create loyalty in your existing customers but also expand your reach. Eco-friendly packaging is a new way to market your brand and increase sales. 

How Your Business Can Reduce Packaging Waste

Understanding the benefits of sustainable packaging and reducing waste is one thing, but putting it into practice is another. There are several steps you can take to smooth the transition and reduce packaging waste, including the following:

  • Focus on shipping: Consider how you can reduce the extra shipping materials required for online shoppers. Encourage consumers to buy your products in-store to reduce packaging waste. 
  • Use recyclable materials: Reusable and recyclable packaging materials decrease the amount of waste in landfills. Cardboard boxes are easy to reuse and recycle by the customer or the business. 
  • Develop minimalistic package designs: Your packaging can be minimalistic and visually appealing. Adopting a minimalist approach to your packaging reduces packaging waste material. It decreases the energy needed to produce the packaging elements, decreasing costs. 
  • Train your team: Reducing packaging waste is a team effort. Ensure all your staff members know waste reduction protocols, like using the right size boxes and recycling. Make waste reduction part of your company culture, with your commitment printed and available for everyone. 
  • Create a recycling scheme: Give customers the option of returning their packaging to you so that you can recycle it. A recycling plan is an excellent way to establish your brand as eco-friendly and reduce packaging costs. 
Contact Bolt Boxes to create sustainable packaging

Contact Bolt Boxes to Create Sustainable Packaging for Your Business

The shift to sustainable packaging is more manageable when you have the right provider. Bolt Boxes understands that every customer has different needs, and we prioritize your sustainability. Our Kraft boxes are 100% recyclable and made from 60-95% post-consumer waste. We will custom-make packages to fit your products so that you can cut down on package waste. 

With Bolt Boxes, you can use only the materials you need. Our experts are here to help you design the perfect box for your product and shipping needs. Create your own custom box online to see what we’re about, or contact us to start your sustainability journey today!