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How to make your packaging more eco-friendly

28 Feb 2022 —
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There are several environmental challenges around packaging. To reduce its environmental footprint, we must make responsible choices in design and materials, to provide the most sustainable solutions.

There are several environmental challenges around packaging. To reduce its environmental footprint, we must make responsible choices in design and materials, to provide the most sustainable solutions.

But how can you make the switch to eco-friendly packaging? You’ll be pleased to know that there are now many options available.

 

What is eco-friendly packaging?

Eco-friendly packaging is commonly known as sustainable packaging. It can help to cut carbon emissions and generate far less waste, playing an important role in protecting our planet. There is no official definition of eco-friendly packaging, but to find out if your packaging is sustainable enough, you just need to ask yourself, or your supplier, the right questions:

  •   Is your packaging adjusted to the size of your products? Bespoke packaging is the best way to get a good fit and reduce packaging material consumption.

 

•    Is the material renewable or recycled? Renewable material is a material made of natural resources which will replenish after being used and consumed, generation after generation.

 

•    Is the packaging reusable or recyclable? A recyclable packaging product can be collected, processed and returned to use in the form of raw materials or goods. The recyclability of a packaging item depends on its nature and composition. Mono-material, for example, is easier to recycle. 

 

•    Does it have a low carbon footprint? By selecting the appropriate film, putting in the right machinery and reducing the size of the box, you can help reduce your carbon footprint. 

 

 

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A long life-cycle for your eco-friendly packaging

Review your whole value chain to assess the sustainability of your packaging. This will enable you to identify a holistic eco-friendly and innovative packaging solution for your products.

•    Design is the best way to adapt packaging to the product and avoid over-packaging. As a reduction in the amount of packaging materials used is the simplest way to prevent waste and excess resource use, this should be an essential part of any solution. In addition, empty space and excess packaging materials frustrate consumers and create a negative brand experience. Forbes Insights in 2018 reported that $46 billion could be saved annually in worldwide logistics costs by eliminating empty space in packaging. Custom packaging boxes can be designed by engineers to adjust to the minimum size needed and reduce void space. Smaller and lighter packaging also cuts shipping costs and fuel consumption. 

•    Sourcing is also a critical step. With raw materials, always select sustainable or innovative materials, to create a more eco-friendly packaging solution. Always prioritise renewable materials (for wood-based materials they should be certified FSC or PEFC), recyclable materials such as thermoplastics like PE or PP, or recycled materials, such as paper or cardboard.

•    Ensure effective recyclability and integrate packaging into a circular supply chain, by focusing on mono-materials as well as biodegradable, plant-based and other eco-friendly alternatives. Remember that some materials biodegrade more quickly than others. Get accurate recycling information from CSR experts in order to make sure your recycling process will be effective, with products collected, sent to a recovery facility to be sorted and cleaned, then processed into materials that can be used in manufacturing, just as raw materials would be.

•    To have greener transport, think global and act local. Local production of your packaging is a sustainable way to reduce your environmental footprint and the fuel consumption during transit. Reducing the overall size and weight of packaging (as already mentioned) and optimising vehicle loading also reduces the number of vehicles required and their overall carbon consumption. Smaller and lighter parcels are easier to send and ship. And if your raw material is also produced locally, it’s even more environmentally friendly!

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How to protect the future? 

As a result of the pandemic, the importance of sustainable packaging solutions is becoming impossible to ignore. Most companies and brands are considering the consumers' demands for more sustainable, eco-friendly packaging. Over two-thirds of consumers say they would pay more for packaging that has lower impact on the environment. In the UK, 50% of consumers said in 2020 they had already switched brands based on concerns about packaging.* Therefore, the current linear model of the packaging industry should be reviewed.

This is why Antalis aims to contribute actively to improving the situation by sourcing sustainable materials from responsible suppliers, designing eco-friendly solutions and reducing CO2 emissions throughout the value chain.

 

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