With big brands dramatically cutting down the amount of single use plastic packaging they use and millennials pushing businesses to be more environmentally responsible, implementing eco friendly and sustainable packaging solutions is becoming less of an option, it is now becoming a necessity.
What is sustainable packaging?
Sustainable packaging is packaging made of materials that reduce their environmental footprint over time. It takes into consideration the make-up of the materials, the manufacturing process of the materials and whether they are reusable or not.
- Sustainable materials use either 100% recycled materials or biodegradable plant-based alternatives.
- Sustainable packaging should have a small production process, carbon footprint and supply chain.
- Sustainable packaging should be reusable, extending their lifecycle and usability.
Eco friendly packaging
Biodegradable packing peanuts – A great eco-friendly alternative to Styrofoam is biodegradable packing peanuts; these are loose to prevent damage to the contents of the box. This type of packaging is able to dissolve in water almost instantly and prevents landfill build up.
Mushroom packaging – Another good eco-friendly packaging alternative is mushroom packaging. It is created from cleaned agricultural waste which is fused together by mushroom roots.
The raw material can be moulded into any shape desired to fit different products, preventing them from being damaged in transit. This material biodegrades at an incredible rate, making it easy to be composted at home.
Cardboard and paper – Cardboard and paper are some of the most recyclable materials available. Thick paper can be used inside packaging to protect items from being crumpled up, and cardboard can be cut to size to fit, so goods don’t move around in transit.
Try to source post-industrial and post-consumer recycled cardboard and paper to make sure the material is as eco-friendly as possible. Materials marked as FSC- certified will be from sustainably managed forests and can be a better choice than recycled material in some circumstances.
Air pillows – Air pillow are available in a range of sizes and are designed to fill the gaps in packaging to stop the item inside getting damaged. They are small bags made from recycled material and they are inflated with air, meaning most of the protective packaging is actually just air.
Air pillows can be reused and recycled but be sure to purchase air pillows that are biodegradable and made out of 100% recycled materials.
Cornstarch – Cornstarch is a material that is derived from a maize or corn plant and has properties similar to plastic, without the same detrimental environmental impact. Cornstarch has the versatility to make loose fill packaging and moulded forms, but it does compete with animal and human food supply, raising the price of a dietary staple. Think about the pros and cons of cornstarch packaging before you select it for your packaging needs.