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Eco-friendly packaging is being explored by businesses in an attempt to go green and reduce their carbon footprint. As you might already know, many international businesses are choosing to trade with companies who are utilising sustainable solutions for their businesses.
Let us understand eco-friendly packaging with some examples and why businesses are trying to adopt this packaging for their products.
What is eco-friendly packaging?
Eco-friendly packaging is the process of using eco-friendly packaging materials to pack products manufactured by a company. These materials are recyclable and don’t cause harm to the environment. It is biodegradable and therefore can be easily decomposed.
Conventional packaging materials, such as plastic and styrofoam, are being replaced by alternatives like recycled paper, plant-based plastics, cardboard and compostable materials. These materials help companies reduce their carbon footprint and promote a circular economy using recycling and composting processes.
Examples of eco-friendly packaging designs
Many companies are trying to invent and implement eco-friendly packaging solutions to become more environmentally friendly businesses. Have a look at a few firms from around the world that have tried innovative packaging solutions that are eco-friendly:
Repack is a Helsinki-based firm selling packaging that can be sent back after delivery. It can be folded into an envelope and then sent back to the business. This can only transport soft goods but is an excellent way to stop discarding packages straight into the waste pile after tearing it out from the product.
Nut Creative has found a way to reduce the plastic bags used to carry wine. Using cardboard, they have created a wine bag box with a handle that is reusable. The box can be repurposed into a construction toy.
Puma in partnership with Yves Béhar came up with Clever Little Bag to avoid the need for a plastic bag for shoes. They developed an eco-friendly carrier tote that consumers can reuse and recycle. According to PUMA, the Clever Little Bag saves 8,500 tons of paper, 1 million liters of fuel oil, 20 million megajoules of electricity and 1 million liters of water every year.
Benefits of eco-friendly packaging
There are many benefits of using eco-friendly and sustainable packaging materials:
- Cost effective
- Reduces carbon footprint
- Improves brand image
Eco-friendly vs sustainable
Eco-friendly is used as an adjective for products, processes, or actions that have no harmful impact on the environment. This term signifies minimal environmental damage.
Sustainability refers to practices that meet our current needs without endangering the ability of future generations to meet their needs. Sustainability incorporates social, economic, and environmental aspects of various practices including packaging.
Sustainable packaging means using any type of eco-friendly material used to wrap, store, ship or shelve products. According to Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC), the following eight criteria must be satisfied to become a sustainable package:
- Beneficial, safe and healthy for individuals and communities throughout its
- Sourced, manufactured, transported, and recycled using renewable energy.
- Optimises the use of renewable or recycled source materials.
- Made using clean production technologies and best practices.
- Manufactured from materials that are healthy throughout the life cycle.
- Physically designed to optimize materials and energy.
- Meets market criteria for performance and cost.
- Effectively recovered and utilised in biological and/or industrial closed-loop cycles
Eco-friendly packaging solutions for small businesses
Many small businesses are exploring environmentally friendly packaging. Here are some ideas for eco-friendly packaging that companies can try out:
- Packaging made from plants
Packaging made from plant-based materials is increasingly becoming popular. Plant-based packaging is made using mushrooms, seaweed, corn, and waste food. These are all organic materials that showcase plastic like properties and are excellent alternatives to petroleum-based packaging. These organic materials are excellent for the use of biodegradable food packaging.
Bioplastics are biodegradable materials that are manufactured from renewable sources. This packaging material is considered to be fully biodegradable, equally resistant and versatile and is already being used in the container and packaging market around the world. In India, Swiggy, a food and grocery delivery platform has started using bioplastic to delivery groceries.
- Recycled cardboard and paper
Cardboard is 100% biodegradable and can be recycled 5-7 times. However, it emits methane gas while decomposing, contributing to a heavy carbon footprint. Recycling cardboard can significantly reduce these methane emissions. Try to source post-consumer or post-industrial recycled paper and cardboard for the packaging needs of your company.
Another popular alternative being experimented with by companies is reducing the packaging size. You can reduce the size of your products by utilising smaller packaging, bags, and containers. This will result in a more sustainable business model and lower logistics costs.
Why is there a need for eco-friendly packaging?
Concerns of climate change and plastic pollution are mounting as the Government of India is focusing on sustainability starting with businesses reducing their carbon emissions. By utilising packaging materials that are recyclable, biodegradable or made from renewable resources, small businesses can significantly reduce their carbon footprint.
Moreover, businesses and customers globally are looking to obtain products from companies prioritising going green and reducing their carbon footprint. Sustainability efforts like eco-friendly packaging can enhance the image of the business in the eyes of customers and other stakeholders.