10 Ideas For Eco-Friendly Packaging
With landfills being filled by billions of tons of non-biodegradable and harmful waste every year, businesses are increasingly developing to adopt planet-friendly operations whenever possible. Society, and consequently customer demands, are increasingly becoming more environmentally conscious.
That’s why in today’s article, the experts at R+R Packaging will explore 9 eco-friendly packaging solutions that will help your business administer a greener approach to the packaging and shipping of goods.
From paper bottles to cornstarch packaging, we’re providing a beginner’s guide to packaging solutions which protect the planet.
Why take an eco-friendly approach to your packaging?
An effective sustainable branding strategy is impactful in reaching the minds of an eco-conscious target audience – which is currently experiencing substantial growth as people are becoming more aware of the damage our lifestyles have on our world.
Corporate social responsibility means more than making your brand stand out – it’s now becoming an expectation for today’s consumers, who are increasingly purchasing in a united effort to create a better tomorrow.
Here are some of the best ideas for eco-friendly packaging.
1) Cornstarch packaging
Given increased awareness about the environmental consequences of polystyrene materials for its inability to biodegrade, cornstarch-based materials are a cheap alternative.
Created with polylactic acid (made from fermented sugars), cornstarch packaging is biodegradable, making it an effective planet-friendly solution when disposed of correctly.
Corn is sustainable, cheap and easy to produce, which makes it the ideal swap for polystyrene. It’s food-safe and resistant to food fats and oils, making it a perfect solution to counteract the damaging consequences of typical takeaway containers.
Customers want to feel a connection with their favourite businesses in terms of their values and ideals, which cornstarch packaging certainly offers in the era of sustainable branding.
However, this green option is increasingly being recognised as more than just a positive public relations opportunity in favour of its flexibility of uses – which makes it both a practical and green choice for planet-friendly brands.
2) Eco-friendly and recycled plastic
Innovation is key to promoting an eco-friendly initiative for your business. Bioplastics are made from biological material instead of from fossil fuels, which makes them much better for the environment.
Many plastic shipping materials are now made from 100% recycled plastic, meaning that for spill trays and spill control pallets, there’s now a viable alternative which offers the same reliability, but with the planet at the forefront of the mind.
Alternatively, there are now biodegradable plastics on the market which begin to decompose upon being exposed to sunlight. This plastic can be used to make envelopes that are usually used for bulk mailing or to carry smaller items.
Biodegradable plastic provides a sturdy alternative to traditional plastics – and as plastic is one of the most common materials which resonates with consumers as being incredibly damaging for the environment – highlighting your company’s use of alternatives is a strong way to boost customer loyalty and retention.
3) Mushroom packaging
Big brands such as Ikea are increasingly adopting mushroom-based packaging for its products. As a natural packaging which is grown from fungi-types, mushroom packaging is very beneficial for the environment.
Mushroom packaging decomposes in 30-90 days and, when ingested by organisms, poses no harmful effects – so is a powerful selling point to environmentalists who are particularly concerned with plastic harm and risks to biodiversity.
Mushroom-based packaging is perfect for supporting smaller items and can be moulded into whatever shape is desired for maximum protection.
What’s more, mushroom packaging can be decomposed at home, breaking down into non-toxic matter which can be disposed of guilt-free – therefore, it’s the perfect protection for household items, attracting the likes of planet-conscious supermarket customers.
4) Carton water
With more than a million plastic bottles bought globally every minute, the huge amount of waste that ends up in our oceans causes extreme harm to birds, marine animals and fish alike. If your company ships plastic bottles, this is an opportunity to redesign your brand image to reinforce an eco-friendly identity.
So, where possible, finding a solution to this harmful material is not only beneficial for the environment, but also for improving customer loyalty – as more people grow aware about its harmful consequences.
Paper water bottles are made from recycled cardboard and newspaper which holds a thin, plastic recycled liner inside – which makes them perfect for holding water without completely disintegrating.
These containers can be shipped nested, meaning you’ll get more of your product out at the same time, benefiting your shipping costs and optimising the speed of operations.
5) Carton wine
As wine boxes have often been avoided for their lack of functional quality, wine-makers are increasingly turning towards greener packaging to lower their eco-footprints.
Glass bottles use significant quantities of natural resources, which consequently generates a substantial amount of pollution. Glass is notorious for producing greenhouse gas emissions during its creation, alongside nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide and particles which could damage lung tissue.
Major retailers such as ASDA and Tesco are increasingly offering boxed wine which combines environmental responsibility, excellent transportation quality and cheaper production – what’s not to love?
6) Leaf plates
Biodegradable, compostable and watertight, leaf plates are toxin-free, durable and eco-friendly. Leaf plates are excellent for attracting conversations, which is a powerful opportunity to start building your brand using a sustainable narrative.
Sustainable brands often encourage community and participation, so with the right audience, leaf plates are an effective way to bring the wow-factor to your business events.
Palm plates are 100% natural and are considered as one of the best alternatives to plastic and other tableware which is damaging to the environment. They’re sturdy, won’t fail on quality and are very versatile when it comes to storing food in the freezer and cooking in microwave ovens.
By displaying how effective these eco-alternatives are for function, these packaging strategies will give physical evidence to your customers that you’re truly committed to a planet-friendly cause.
7) Protective material converted from waste
When it comes to waste from cardboard boxes, instead of allowing them to biodegrade, why not shred boxes to create extra protective material? Not only will this save you a great deal of cash if you often ship fragile products, it will also make use of old cardboard boxes which are obscure sizes or are unlikely to be reused if over-ordered.
8) Air pillows made of recycled materials
While many corporations may initially opt for bubble wrap or polystyrene, air pillows are an effective alternative which is ideal for filling in any gaps in the boxes.
Particularly useful with small items, air pillows can be filled as much as you should require for the product.
Using air pillows, products can be shipped with minimal extra packaging compared to other cushioning materials and can be reused and recycled.
9) Biodegradable packaging peanuts
Biodegradable peanuts are much less harmful to the environment than polystyrene counterparts which corporations tend to choose and can be a great environment-friendly packaging solution. Not only do they break down within minutes of touching water, they also leave no waste behind and pose no major health threats to animals or sea life.
Furthermore, they require less energy to produce and also emit fewer greenhouse gases. For use in packages of all sizes, biodegradable packaging peanuts are an encouraging investment for large shipping organisations.
10) Single strip cardboard packaging
Small items often come with an excessive amount of plastic to ensure that they stay damage free in transit. However, packaging small items such as light bulbs in a single strip of recyclable cardboard is not only cheaper, but also more planet-friendly.
This cardboard savvy idea means that the product can still be well-displayed, leaving a large deal of scope for advertisement, while also ensuring a high standard of protection for the product.
We hope that with our planet-friendly inspiration, your business can take an eco-friendly approach to its operations which optimises efficiency and functions with the planet at the forefront of its activity. This way, your company will increasingly align towards customer demands while also gaining a strong environmental reputation.
Good packaging along with a reliable inventory management solution can help you run the business very efficiently.
Elizabeth Raw works for R+R Packaging, providers of biodegradable and eco-friendly packaging materials for businesses within a wide variety of industries.