It’s no surprise that more and more companies are slowly making the transition to a more plastic-free environment. With the rise in plastic waste from either non-recyclable plastic or plastic not being properly recycled, people are finding creative ways to limit plastic use. Whether you’re using reusable bags or paper-based products, the options are out there — it’s just a matter of knowing where and how to begin.
Keep reading for tips on using sustainable packaging and why you should choose plastic-free shipping solutions in the first place.
If you’re reading this article, the odds are that you’ve already thought about the possibility of becoming a more plastic-free company and want to take the first step toward doing so. Even simply by accepting the idea of being plastic-free, you’ve already made the first steps towards your goal. After all, taking time to learn about becoming sustainable is the only way to start your journey.
Let’s understand exactly why you should switch to being more plastic-free in your company.
The most significant reason why you should stop using plastic is to help the Earth — and consequently, everyone and everything that lives on this planet. Every year, 11 million metric tons of plastic end up in the ocean. This number is expected to double by 2040 without immediate, drastic action. Ultimately, single-use plastics harm marine wildlife and their habitats, eventually coming back to us through the consumption of fish.
Furthermore, producing plastic also has negative impacts on the environment, as creating plastic requires the use of fossil fuels such as coal and oil. These finite resources contribute to the warming of the planet. As a result, we experience repercussions such as extreme weather conditions, increased air pollution and more.
Using less or no plastic as a company helps reduce your carbon footprint and waste output, directly benefitting the planet and its residents.
Making the switch to be more plastic-free can benefit your company in unforeseen ways. These days, more people than ever are concerned about the state of the environment. Many believe changing their own actions can help mitigate climate change — and their buying habits reflect that sentiment. Therefore, going plastic-free as a company could increase leads and drive sales. Additionally, you may find that you retain more customers and boost brand recognition.
Now that you’ve decided to take the leap, it’s time to establish a means of how to go plastic-free and implement your company’s new sustainability framework.
A helpful starting point — and one that may leave the best impact on your customer — is to rework how you package and ship your products. More specifically, you’ll want to find ways to limit the amount of plastic and overall excess material you use. Ultimately, you’ll spend fewer resources and materials with a more plastic-free approach and limit the amount of waste your customer deals with once they receive the product.
Even if your packaging material is 100% recyclable, you can’t always be sure that your customer will or can recycle the product at home. By reducing how much packaging you use in the first place, you can help make recycling the obvious choice for the consumer. Additionally, you can lower costs, as you won’t have to spend so much on packaging.
It’s time to find a solution that limits the amount of packing material needed in such a way that you don’t have to rely on your customer to make the eco-friendly decision. The solution is custom shipping boxes designed for your products. Using custom shipping boxes, you can achieve one of the most sustainable packaging possible for your business.
Depending on the product, you may waste a significant amount of material to simply send one item to a customer. Even if the cost of the box is low, you’re paying more to fill the space and risking more harm than good. Now, your customer has an increased amount of waste to deal with on their own, and they may not always recycle the material. This method is called void filling, where you fill the space in the box to keep your product more secure.
Switching to a recyclable product like paper or tissue to fill your packages could help you reduce waste, right? Both crinkle paper and tissue paper are labeled as recyclable materials, and you can find options that are already made from recycled material. While these are much better alternatives to using plastic wrap, bubble wrap, packing peanuts and other non-recyclable and biodegradable materials, they’re not as recyclable as you may imagine.
Often, crinkle paper is considered too small by most recycling plants to be considered worth recycling, especially if it’s not contained properly. On the other hand, tissue paper is recyclable, but it’s not durable. As a result, the quality and small fibers of the paper make it difficult to reuse, so recycling centers may not accept it. It’s best to avoid adding filler materials altogether than hope that your customers will find a way to recycle or reuse them properly.
By using custom shipping boxes, you reduce the amount of filler you need, as you can more easily customize your boxes to better accommodate the size of your product. Then, you only need little to no filler — and you always know exactly how much filler, if any, you need. This benefit helps you ensure you always have enough to use, rather than scrambling to stuff your packages with enough filler to make them secure.
If you do need to use a filler, you can opt for something a little more eco-friendly than crinkle and tissue paper — newspaper, cardboard and other similar items are effective fillers that you can easily recycle.
There are also ways to decrease the amount of material you use in your shipping and packaging altogether. Aside from removing filler from your packaging, you can look to your package processing operations to see where you can improve. Before shipping products, you more than likely use shipping invoices and labels to know exactly where a package is going. This is a prime opportunity to cut down on paper and plastic use.
Instead of using an entire piece of paper for an invoice that only takes up a few inches, you can find ways to reformat the invoice to better accommodate the needed space. Consider half slips of paper for invoicing instead. Alternatively, you can switch to 100% recycled paper for your invoices, or do them completely virtually to save even more on materials.
Even the size of your packing slips and shipping labels can be reworked so they use less space. Traditional shipping labels are made from a plastic sticker material that you can’t recycle properly. The problem is that most shipping labels are coated with a silicone layer to make them slightly more durable during the transportation process. As an alternative, look for shipping labels that have eco-friendly coatings. From there, you can find a shipping label size to reduce the amount of wasted space.
Taking the initiative to look beyond your packaging by analyzing other parts of your operations will help you be more eco-friendly in more areas than one.
Not everything labeled as plastic-free is safe for the environment. While you might find that certain mailers are made from recycled materials, it may turn out that the release liner on them isn’t as eco-friendly, causing them to be placed in a landfill. Keep an eye on the overall material of the products you purchase to ensure every part of them is 100% recyclable. If you’re unsure whether an item is recyclable, you should always inquire before purchasing.
Most shipping boxes are made from cardboard that can be repurposed or recycled to create more boxes. Therefore, your customers can utilize the box on their own as they see fit. In terms of tape, you can find a multitude of plastic-free alternatives to keep your boxes closed during transit, such as recycled paper tape. Some packaging materials don’t even require tape. Instead, they use a sticky, glue-like material that’s 100% natural.
One term you should be cautious of when shopping for an eco-friendly alternative is “biodegradable plastic.” It’s true that the world has become more aware of the dangers of single-use, non-recyclable plastic. The solution is to switch to plastic made from plants and other natural materials that make the plastic more biodegradable, right? In a perfect world, every product that’s claimed to be sustainable would be. However, not all biodegradable plastics are actually biodegradable.
These plastics, when in a landfill or a compost bin, simply break down into smaller plastic pieces that eventually turn into micro-plastics, which can be more damaging to the environment. Other times, biodegradable plastic can only be truly biodegradable when brought to an industrial facility. In that case, you have to rely on your customers to know how and where to recycle the packaging.
Be sure to conduct your own research when it comes to choosing biodegradable plastics and other packaging materials that are meant to break down. Doing things like looking at customer reviews, reading about the company’s history and inquiring about certifications can ensure you choose the best packing materials for your company. Choosing custom shipping boxes and poly mailers from a trusted supplier can help ensure your packaging is actually sustainable for shipping.
If you follow the above suggestions, you may notice a slight reduction in your overall shipping and packaging costs. By using size-appropriate boxes, you’ll use less filler, which means less material waste overall. Even the cost of shipping the item will be less, as the space the package occupies is smaller. By tacking these two areas, you can likely put a significant amount of money toward other operations — such as other green initiatives.
Additionally, you may find yourself identifying areas where you use excess materials or decorative add-ons. These additions may not be as necessary as you originally thought, so their removal will further decrease your costs. For example, if you ship clothing, you may want to eliminate the plastic bags you put them in before setting them in the box. Keeping your packing materials as minimal as possible won’t negatively affect how your customers view your brand — it’s one less thing for them to handle when opening their new items.
Overall, moving away from plastic packaging and materials is simple. In today’s world, you can find numerous sustainable products to replace your plastic materials. Instead of plastic, try using post-consumer recycled materials, such as:
Consider experimenting with different plastic alternatives until you find one that suits your company’s needs best. It may be a combination of various plastic-free shipping solutions, not just packaging, that works for you. Whatever you decide, you should always be cautious of false advertisements and other misleading labels and packaging. Be sure to work with a packaging supplier you completely trust to ensure you reduce your carbon footprint and take a step toward sustainability.
The possibilities are seemingly endless when it comes to the ways you can make your company plastic-free — and thus, more environmentally friendly. There are many decisions you have to make when choosing how you want your company to be more sustainable. In general, shipping and packaging are always a smart place to start to find ways to be more eco-friendly as a company.
Ordering custom shipping boxes is one of the many ways you can maintain a plastic-free environment for your company. At Bolt Boxes, we help you create the box size that’s perfect for your products. With three different styles and print customization, you can dazzle your customers with a visually stunning box while displaying your desire to be more conscientious of the environment. Once you’ve selected your size and style, you can further customize your box with stunning designs that boldly represent your brand.
Making the switch to be a more eco-conscious, plastic-free company is a trend you shouldn’t miss as a company. These days, consumers largely prefer companies that work to preserve the environment. Reduce your company’s carbon footprint by switching to plastic-free shipping packages today. Contact us to learn more.