Sustainability is more than a buzzword. It is the complete redefinition of product specifications to minimize resource usage and waste created at the end of the lifecycle. Sustainability is increasingly focused on packaging, since it accounts for a disproportionate amount of human waste.
The Mainstream Efforts to Bring Sustainability to Packaging
There are a variety of ways we’re seeing sustainability concepts applied to packaging. Ensuring that single use containers can be recycled is a first step. incentivizing their recycling is the next step, though other groups are working on creating biodegradable packaging so that it can be safely thrown away.
Deliberately using recycled material in packaging is commonplace. Recycled paper used to wrap sandwiches is one example. Having made envelopes, cardboard boxes and other packaging from recycled paper is now a selling point.
Single use beverage bottles and other single use items are being targeted for elimination by offering reusable containers in their place. Yet we’re seeing sustainability applied to more than products for humans.
The Newest Applications of Sustainability to Packaging
Some of the newest applications of sustainable packaging is to products that haven’t incorporated ¡t before. For example, sustainable packaging is starting to appear in pet products. Reducing the amount of plastics used in packaging is one form of this. Moving toward packaging partially made from recycled materials that can be recycled yet again is true progress toward completely sustainable packaging. One manufacturer made a breakthrough with one hundred percent recyclable post-consumer waste. A point in its favor was the fact that it was manufactured in the United Kingdom, reducing how much energy is required to transport it to factories or bring it back for recycling.
Design changes can improve the user experience as well as improve sustainability. For example, built-in carry handles make it easier for customers to transport heavy bags of dog food or cat litter. Easy tear strips allow people to easily open the bag without spilling it, making it possible for someone to reopen it. Nor does sustainability have to equal ugly. Premium craft board products can be printed with eco-friendly inks and attractive designs, helping them stand out on the shelf.
The Future of Sustainability in Packaging
Manufacturers are starting to install equipment that can handle multiple sizes and diameters while making sustainable packaging. This allows manufacturers to make packages in a variety of sizes and shapes. Then the shift toward sustainable packaging is across the entire product line, not a marketing gimmick because it applies to only one of their newest products. The quick and easy changeover for the latest packaging equipment allows businesses to readily adapt to changes in customer expectations. When you don’t have to worry about losing money because people didn’t like your large sustainable containers, you’re more willing to invest in the new production equipment. This in turn leads to businesses choosing to buy multiple packaging lines, reducing the cost per unit and making ¡t part of the new way of doing things.
Sustainability is increasingly reflected in the design and manufacturing process. This will make sustainability as much a factor for businesses to consider as cost and quality. And it will lead to sustainability becoming a fact of life.