The Importance of Sustainable Packaging Materials

If you’re thinking of making the switch from legacy packaging to newer, sustainable packaging materials, you’re not alone. Major companies like Walmart and Coca-Cola have already committed to making the switch.

So what makes packaging sustainable? And what are the potential benefits for your business?

Here, we’re going to discuss everything that makes packaging sustainable, from how it’s produced and transported to how it’s used. We’ll also discuss the benefits of sustainable packaging materials, both for your business and the planet we all share.

What is the Impact?

According to the EPA, 23 percent of landfill waste consists of product packaging. When you consider how much waste is simply unavoidable – nobody’s going to be recycling used tissues and dirty diapers any time soon – packaging makes up an even larger percentage of the waste that can be easily eliminated.

Worse, not everyone throws their packaging into the trash like they’re supposed to. As a result, a lot of this packaging ends up in our rivers and streams, and ultimately makes its way to the ocean. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is just one place where this plastic ends up.

But the impact doesn’t end at the landfill. It begins at the very start of the production process.

Your business needs to purchase and ship your packaging before it even hits the shelves, and every pound of packaging adds to your driver and fuel costs. By switching to sustainable packaging, you can significantly reduce these costs, as well as the associated environmental impact. For example, as we’ve discussed in the past, a single truckload of flexible pouch packaging can carry as much as 35 truckloads of an equivalent rigid packaging.

sustainable packaging materials

What is Sustainable Packaging?

According to the Sustainable Packaging Alliance, sustainable packaging has four characteristics:

  • “It adds real value to society by effectively containing and protecting products as they move through the supply chain and by supporting informed and responsible consumption.”
  • “Packaging systems are designed to use materials and energy as efficiently as possible throughout the product life cycle. This should include material and energy efficiency in interactions with associated support systems such as storage, transport, and handling.”
  • “Packaging materials are cycled continuously through natural or (industrial) technical systems, minimizing material degradation and/or the use of upgrading additives.”
  • “Packaging components do not pose any risks to human health or ecosystems. When in doubt the precautionary principle applies.”

In other words, sustainable packaging is about more than just reducing waste. It needs to work effectively, so it’s not synonymous with “cheap” or “flimsy” packaging. It needs to be sustainable throughout its life cycle, which means that it needs to be integrated into a sustainable production process and supply line. And it needs to be safe, both for people and for the environment.

This is why you’re seeing so many bioplastics on the market. Because they’re made from plants, they’re sustainable to produce. Because they’re lightweight and compact, they don’t require a lot of fuel to ship. And they’ve been tested to ensure that they’re safe to use and dispose of.

How Can Brands Benefit?

So now that we have a working definition of sustainable packaging, how does it benefit your business?

To begin with, a sustainable supply chain almost always means reduced carbon emissions. And reduced emissions translate directly to reduced costs since you won’t need to pay for all that energy. To use our earlier example, plastic pouch packaging can save you over 97 percent on transportation versus rigid packaging.

Your business can also take advantage of this sustainable process to let your customers know you’re an environmentally responsible company. As a matter of fact, 72 percent of millennials say that they’re willing to pay more for a product if they know it’s from an environmentally friendly brand. So not only can sustainable packaging help you save money, but it can also grow your customer base.

Try doing that with a cardboard box.

Finally, your retail partners will appreciate your packaging choices. Most retailers pay for the cost of their own trash pickup. And since they’re often responsible for disposing of damaged or spoiled products, retailers will appreciate that your packaging saves them dumpster space.

sustainable packaging materials

How to Make the Switch

How to make the switch to sustainable packaging materials will depend on what kind of product you’re selling. That said, Karlville specializes in pouch packaging, so we can provide some insight on that front.

First, you’ll need to consider what kind of packaging you want. For pouch packaging, there are many sizes available, all the way from tiny, 2-inch pouches to jumbo-sized 250mm pouches. In these sizes, you’ll find two types of closures: zippers, which are suitable for dry goods, and pouches, which are suitable for liquids.

Next, you’ll need to have some packaging designed with your product’s logo and other information. Pouch packaging can be printed on all sides and utilizes a special ink that’s formulated not to leak through the plastic and into your product.

Finally, you’ll need a pouch packaging machine. Our pouch packaging machines run the gamut from small, single-station machines that are designed for boutique manufacturers to large, industrial machines that are made to fill over a hundred pouches per minute.

After that, you can watch the savings add up, and listen to words of thanks from your retail partners.

Take Your Product Packaging to the Next Level

As you can see, there’s a lot of change happening in the world of product packaging. From eco-friendly cardboard to slim, minimalist pouch packaging, sustainable packaging materials are here to stay.

If you’re interested in learning more about pouch packaging, contact Karlville today, or call our Florida office at (305)-533-1051. We offer pouch packaging machines to suit virtually any consumer products, from snacks and beverages to consumer goods like motor oil and epoxy.

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