According to the statistics for 2018, the UK generated 222.2 million tonnes of waste. However, as the population continues to increase, so does the waste produced. The increase in waste doesn’t only harm the health of residents but also the state of the environment. These include the release of harmful gases such as methane, loss of biodiversity, the spread of infectious diseases, and land and water pollution. A major contributor to the increase in waste is that of the packaging. Read more to learn how to make your packaging eco-friendly.
This is largely due to the use of unsustainable materials and poor design. As a business owner, you wouldn’t want to be among the several factors causing harm to your environment and customers. Fortunately, there are several ways you can make your packing eco-friendly to ensure it is safe for all. Below are a few you can consider implementing today.
Remember The Five “R’s” of Sustainable Packaging
When you think of sustainable packaging, the 5R model should be the first that comes to mind: Reuse, Reduce, Renew, Redesign, and Recycle. This model effectively guides your business to ensure it implements the best eco-friendly packaging strategies and practices.
For your business, you can reuse by incorporating elements of recycled products in your packaging design. For instance, you can include old newspapers in your packaging as filler material instead of purchasing new paper. You ensure you reduce by minimising the amount of material and other resources, such as electricity, needed to curate your packages. This reduces the amount of waste your business produces.
Next, you can renew and redesign your packaging by simply exploring other environmentally-friendly options for your packaging. For example, using renewable energy sources for the packaging process. Whereas with redesigning, you reconsider the existing packaging design and find effective ways of improving it. You can encourage the last R, recycling, by ensuring your packaging encourages customers to use it for a different purpose. You can also ensure your packaging satisfies the recycling requirement using biodegradable material.
Reduce The Overall Size of Your Packages
Quite surprisingly, the size of your packages could be causing a negative effect on the environment. But how is this possible? When you have larger packages, you use more materials and resources to produce and package them. Additionally, you would also use more resources in storing the items. Most importantly, the size of your packages can affect your shipping options. If your packages are large, you cannot make productive deliveries, as you can only ship a few at a time. This, in turn, would mean you burning more fuel, further increasing your ecological footprint and the negative effects on the environment.
To curb this problem, consider reducing the size of your package by reducing your packing supplies and filler material and experimenting with positioning your products to allow for smaller packaging options. For example, if you sell chairs, consider disassembling them to better place them in smaller packages. In addition to helping you reduce air pollution and other environmental issues, reducing your packaging can also help you significantly cut the cost of shipping.
Offer Rewards For Returned Containers
Another way to ensure your packaging strategy promotes environmental efforts is to collect empty packages from customers. It may seem odd, but it is an effective way of reducing waste and its harmful effects. The truth is, your customers (especially if they are not environmentally conscious) would simply throw away the package when they receive the product or are done with it.
This, in effect, causes an increase in waste that could have otherwise been recycled or repurposed. By removing used packaging, your business plays a vital role in saving the environment. It also helps your business reduce costs as they do not need to purchase new materials and resources.
To encourage your customers, you should offer rewards for customers that return containers. Discounts, freebies, and other prizes would serve as an initiative for your customers to return empty containers. This policy also makes your customers trust your company and increase their loyalty as they feel part of your company’s efforts to ensure the improvement of the state of the environment.
Reduce The Use of Harmful Chemicals And Materials
When designing your packaging, you are looking for means and ways to stand out from your competition and attract the right customers. While that is great, you should consider the materials and chemicals used to make these packages. For example, suppose you use ink to brand your packing.
In that case, you must ensure that the ink or paint does not contain volatile organic compounds (VOC). These chemicals can cause great distress to the environment. Likewise, you should consider the materials used to make the package as well as the filler material used. Therefore, you should consider implementing more sustainable options, such as acid-free tissue paper and biodegradable peanut fillers.
Consider Innovative Packing Options
There are several eco-friendly packing options you can consider implementing in your business. Therefore, you should be innovative in finding an attractive and sustainable packaging solution. One of these solutions is plant-based packaging. This form of packing uses plant-based biodegradable material such as bamboo, banana leaves, seaweed, corn, and even food waste.
There are several advantages to your business and environment when you opt for this packing technique. You would require less carbon to produce, decreasing your carbon footprint and packaging costs. It also produces no toxins and reduces the waste found in landfills. Unfortunately, despite these great advantages, plant-based packaging solutions are rarely used by businesses.
So, take advantage of this to not only enjoy the benefits it brings but also to set your business apart from the competition and set a niche for yourself. Plantable packing is also a unique, effective, but rarely used packaging strategy you can employ when seeking to implement sustainable packaging. As the name implies, this form of packaging involves adding plantable material to your packaging. That means not only would your package be biodegradable, but it can also nourish the earth no matter where it is found. This is an effective packaging strategy for business owners that produce lightweight and smaller products such as jewellery and cosmetics.
Another innovative eco-friendly packaging solution you should consider implementing is edible packaging. Although slightly unconventional, edible packaging is a great way to ensure your business implements sustainable packaging. This is an ideal option for food retailers and vendors as it adds to the aesthetic and creativity of the products and services offered to clients.
Therefore, it is a great option to consider when considering sustainability. Compostable plastic alternatives are yet another innovative sustainable packaging option you can consider. The major problem today when it comes to packaging is the use of plastic.
As plastics are non-degradable, they stay in landfills for an extended period, causing issues such as erosion, releasing harmful chemicals into the atmosphere, causes diseases, among other harmful effects. Therefore, it is very important to find effective alternatives to plastic. Compostable materials such as corrugated bubble wrap, bio-plastics, and biodegradable packing peanuts are great options to consider when thinking of replacing plastic.
These products are made out of plant-based polymers that make it easy for them to break down. However, you must remember that these items usually take a whole to eventually compost, so it is advisable to alert customers so they aren’t alarmed.
Implement a Sustainable Supply Chain
Your efforts to ensure sustainable packing goes beyond the efforts you implement within the operational processes. The nature of your suppliers and supply chain strategy also plays a vital role. When you have a sustainable supplier, you are guaranteed to receive products and materials that would support efforts to be eco-friendly. They would also ensure that you run an eco-friendly supply chain process.
Additionally, such suppliers save your business from reputational damage as you ensure to receive materials of high quality and to the industry’s best standards. Through sustainable suppliers, your business would also be opened to new and innovative packing techniques and options, making you more attractive on the market. Sustainable suppliers also assist in your efforts to cut waste as they are open to recycling and reusing leftover material you may have from your packaging. They could do so by reselling these to smaller businesses at a lower cost.
You should also avoid over-packaging within your supply chain process. Sometimes, in an effort to make your packages more attractive, you may be guilty of practicing over-packaging. In addition to slowing down your supply chain process, this habit causes immense waste for you (the manufacturer) and your customers. Therefore, be sure to implement strategies that would prevent this from occurring within your supply chain.
Sustainability should be the first aspect that comes to mind when considering packaging. As the environment seems to deteriorate faster, everyone needs to play a part in ensuring its sustainability. As a business owner, you can play a role in improving this crisis by implementing various environmentally-friendly processes, such as sustainable packaging. If you are unsure where to start, consider the abovementioned tips and explore other methods to ensure your business helps the environment as much as possible.