Sustainable Packaging – The 2020 Trend
Sustainable packaging is something that we talk about a lot here at Quickbox, as it is important to us. More, now than ever, sustainable packaging is becoming a higher priority for both brands and consumers. Even McDonald’s have announced that all of its packaging will be 100% renewable and recycled by 2025. The phrases ‘eco-friendly’ and ‘green’ started off as just buzzwords, but it is clear that they aren’t a phase. If you are serious about attracting millennials to purchase your products, sustainable packaging is going to be key in setting yourself apart from your competitors.
What is sustainable packaging?
The idea behind sustainable packaging is that over time, it reduces the impact it has on the environment (its carbon footprint). This can happen in several different ways:
- Ingredients: either the packaging has been made by 100% recycled or raw materials.
- Production process: by minimising the production process of the packaging, the supply chain it goes through, and its carbon footprint (transportation).
- Reusability: by extending the lifecycle and usability of the packaging materials.
So as you can see, sustainable packaging is all about the environment, but social and economic factors do also play a role. Plant-based packaging may seem like a great idea (and marketing right, very attractive to millennials). However, when you take a deeper look at how this is manufactured, it often means clearing rainforests in order to grow crops. This is where the line between eco-friendly and sustainability can often become blurred. Eco packaging needs to consider the economic factor too.
Sustainable packaging design
The main aim of sustainable packaging design is to create product packaging that has the smallest impact on the environment as possible. This can be done in one of two ways: using recycled material for the packaging, or designing your packaging with another purpose in mind.
For example, H&M have designed a shopping bag that is not only made from recycled materials, but also transforms into a clothes hanger after you have finished with the bag itself.
Why packaging sustainability is important
If you have a quick read through our blog about using green packaging as an alternative to plastic, you will see that sustainable packaging is very important. You only have to have a look on Amazon’s Twitter account to see what consumers think about several items arriving in several different boxes, rather than being combined.
The push for sustainability isn’t just from consumers though, larger corporations are being pressured from above to reduce the impact their businesses have on the environment. Some of the large companies are also turning to the government in order to try and make a change to reduce plastic pollution globally. If corporations can put this level of pressure on the government, it also means that:
- Consumers will want to be associated with brands who are environmentally focused (we are already starting to see a shift in this now).
- Large corporations are spearheading the initiative in order to raise awareness of their brand.
- SMEs are also going to be forced further down the supply chain to consider sustainable alternatives to their packaging.
Eco-friendly packaging materials
One of the most environmentally-friendly packaging materials is the humble cardboard box. It is organic, ethical, sustainable and easy to reuse. Corrugated cardboard in particular is a popular packaging choice as it is organic. A simple cardboard box is over 80% biodegradable, so even if you aren’t able to find another use for it, the environmental impact it has is very low. If your customer throws it into the recycling bin after use, it will break down easily on a landfill site.
The material cardboard is made from (which is paper pulp) has a very eco-friendly manufacturing process as the raw materials are trees. Therefore if the cardboard box itself isn’t already made from recycled materials, it is still a very sustainable choice.
Double and triple-walled cardboard boxes have the added advantage of being able to hold a high weight of products. They are resistant to blunt forces too, which makes them a great solution for your shipping needs.
Plant-based packaging solutions
We touched briefly on plant-based packing solutions earlier, but this is something you have to be a bit careful with when it comes to sustainability. You need to look out for bio-based plastics or corn plastic, as these have been made from an organic compound. This will therefore decompose in any environment that it is placed in (over time of course).
One of the most popular plastic substitutes is polylactic acid (PLA), which is made from fermenting plant starch. Again, you have to be mindful of the fermentation process here as energy is still ultimately used to break down the molecules. However, with more and more countries banning plastic bags at grocery stores, we could see more of these being used in the future.
So there you have it, a closer look into the 2020 trend that is sustainable packaging! Whilst consumer trends are the main driver in the switch to sustainable packaging, moving your packaging over to more eco-friendly options could set your business apart from the competition. If you would like any further information about the bespoke cardboard boxes that we manufacture, as well as our custom printed packaging tape that can be branded with your logo, contact us today.