And what is the reason for this boom? Simple: there is a new generation of consumers who support it, and who take into account the social and environmental policies of the businesses they buy from.
In addition, packaging engineering is advancing at a dizzying rate, and many companies have already found the right options for their products.
Do you want to find out if this option can compensate you financially? Then you can’t miss this article.
We’ll tell you exactly what sustainable packaging is, how it can help you connect with new customers, its viability for your business, and where to buy it without making a large initial investment. Let’s get started!
What exactly is sustainable packaging?
To talk about sustainable packaging, you have to be clear about what sustainability is.
Sustainability refers to the responsible use of natural resources so that future generations can also have them, guaranteeing the satisfaction of our current and future needs.
Therefore, this type of packaging seeks to reduce its environmental footprint over time and through different methods:
- Materials: it must be manufactured with raw materials that can be fully (or largely) recycled.
- Production: the production process and the assembly line must be minimized to reduce the carbon footprint
- Increased usability: it must be a packaging designed to have several lifetimes.
In addition, sustainable packaging must take into account economic and social factors, and its price must be competitive with traditional single-use packaging.
For example, plant-based packaging may be a sustainable option, but it is not if it involves cutting down entire forests to grow the raw material for manufacture.
So, as we can see, sustainable packaging does not have to be ethically produced, so we will have to be well informed and ask the different suppliers before we make our choice.
What is sustainable design packaging?
Packaging with sustainable design is a powerful combination and highly recommended for brands that are committed to the environment. Its aim is also to cause a low environmental impact.
And how do you achieve a design that leaves a small footprint on the planet? We can use recycled material together with a design that gives our packaging several lifetimes.
One example is these H&M bags that can be converted into hangers and are made from 80 percent recycled paper.
H&M knows that its potential customers are between 18 and 35 years old, that they care about the environment, and that they prefer brands that integrate ecological solutions into their processes. They know that packaging that is suitable for more than one use increases brand and customer loyalty.
They have managed to create a paper wrapper to store the bread that can be reused as baking paper. In addition, it can be folded in multiple ways, and it adapts to any shape of bread we wish to buy.
The goal of this project is to reduce the amount of bags that users take home to store bread and paper wrappers that cannot have a second life.
The aim of its bags is for users to find alternatives to conventional plastic bags.
They are made of 100% cotton and close quickly and securely, making them perfect for transporting items, buying products in bulk, etc.
In addition, their printed design is GOTS certified, which means it is environmentally friendly.
Is it viable for your business to invest in sustainable packaging?
So far we have seen what sustainable packaging is and examples of companies using it as a value proposition.
But we also want to show you data of real users that could visit your store (physical or online) and that take into account the packaging in which you deliver your products.
The study The Millennial Fruit and Vegetable Shopper by AECOC (2017) (in collaboration with AFCO and UNIQ) confirms that 64% of those surveyed between 18 and 34 years of age choose cardboard or wooden packaging when buying food (only 15% would prefer plastic).
For this percentage of users, sustainable packaging and quality products are decisive factors in their purchasing decisions.
And that’s not all. Citizens are not the only ones demanding a sustainable movement. Big companies have also joined the change:
In 2018, the company Plastic Repair System won the first prize in “Product/Service for Sustainable Development” for its technology promoting the repair of plastic objects and giving them new uses.
If we join the citizen and business movement, we see that:
- Consumers look for and trust in environmentally responsible brands.
- Large companies have begun their journey to connect with the public through sustainability.
- SMEs will need to adopt responsible policies to keep up with the market and their competitors.
This means that companies must commit to sustainable materials and production processes from start to finish and be transparent with users in order to gain their trust.
What eco/sustainable materials can you use for your company packaging?
Now that we know the importance of sustainability for our brand and customers, we have to know how to choose the material according to our needs.
For example, biodegradable packaging seemed to be the solution to single-use plastics, since it is made from materials that naturally break down in a relatively short period of time.
However, much packaging labeled “biodegradable” is made from materials that can only decompose at a certain temperature and under the right atmospheric conditions.
For example, some of these packages decompose in a landfill under the sun, but remain completely intact if thrown into waterways.
Biodegradable plastic bottles are a clear example of packaging that would float in the ocean contaminating the seas and rivers.
If you opt for biodegradable packaging, we advise you to analyze its characteristics before making a decision, and inform users how to recycle it correctly after use.
One of its strong points, besides the variety of shapes and sizes, is its rigidity. Multi-layered and well-assembled boxes hold a lot of weight and protect products from any movement.
It is a recyclable, biodegradable material and decomposes quickly in landfills.
Bags or envelopes made of compostable material are perfect for lightweight items that do not require large boxes for shipping. This is the case of quality clothing or fabrics.
In addition, this type of packaging includes a sealing system on the flap that increases its life span.
After seeing all this data, we draw a clear conclusion: even if sustainability is not the main feature of your brand, it helps you stand out from the competition.
Imagine this situation: a user holds your product in one hand, and your competitor’s in the other. He is determined to buy, and only needs a small push to decide on one.
On your packaging the user reads: packaging made of recycled materials. It will decompose into organic matter and free of toxins within 2 years.
Although packaging may not be the main reason customers buy from you, it can be the stimulus some need to choose your brand. It’s a good way to connect with this new eco-conscious audience and the planet.