The Center for International Environment Law (CIEL) indicates that packaging accounts for 40% of the global demand for plastics. Yet, increasingly countries are introducing new, eco-friendly legislation aimed at reducing our global footprint.
Retailers are also taking on more responsibility, setting carbon neutrality goals and environmental objectives — a change that customers want to see come into full force.
So, how do we bridge the gap between excessive plastic production and more environmental practice?
Can we balance our demand for products that arrive in pristine condition and the desire to see sustainability as the new standard?
All signs point to eco-friendly packaging, be it eco-friendly packaging boxes, eCommerce mailing bags or smaller items like swing tickets. However, such solutions need to avoid the common pitfalls of eco-friendly packaging, swerving any type of greenwashing or false environmental outcome, as well as adopt packaging that can be scaled and sourced internationally, at an affordable price.
It’s true that there are many proposed packaging ideas and environmental initiatives that make the future of sustainable wrapping look bright. Using captured carbon to create packaging is just one of them. But is it realistic for every global retailer right now?
To make strides in the right direction, organisations need to know what environmental alternatives they can access immediately and how they can implement them for the year ahead. So, here are the most straightforward, scalable options that already exist on the market.
1. Sustainable Papers
Used in things like product tickets, sustainable papers are an obvious choice for greener, cleaner packaging —even if they aren’t so obvious to get right.
Customers immediately understand that something is environmental if it's made from paper, meaning no over-the-top innovation will go over their heads. For brands looking to clean up their carbon image, paper is a good pick. It communicates your commitment to everyone, no matter their level of education.
Featured: Sustainable Papers
In the case of this example, bamboo paper and stone paper have been utilised to create the ultimate environmental packaging asset.
2. Corn Starch Bags
A lesser thought about material is corn starch that can act as a substitute for polythene. Replacing the need to use synthetic polymers, corn starch creates a plastic-like appearance using only renewable materials. As such, the end result makes for a good mailing bag alternative.
Especially for eCommerce retailers, corn starch bags can be a big game-changer. Something as small as swapping your stereotypical polythene pouches for a corn starch variety can make a big difference to your packaging impact and the environmental outlook of your product.
Featured: Eco-Friendly Plastic Bags
Due to their clever composition, corn starch bags are compostable, lending themselves to a very clear message about the lifecycle of your packaging and a glaringly obvious benefit for the buyer.
3. Kraft Packaging
Another environmental favourite that has slowly been creeping into supply chains is the use of kraft paper and board to create anything from mailing bags to more rigid boxes and traditional paper bags as we think of them in the physical retail space. This material is only set to become a bigger trend in 2022 as it becomes more commonplace and top of mind from the consumer’s perspective.
Kraft materials are favoured for their ability to biodegrade in little more than a few weeks, leaving next to no impact on the external environment. In terms of packaging, Kraft is much stronger than other types of paper, meaning it can be manipulated for use in items as durable and structured as a hat box, as well as more flexible items like paper bags.
Featured: Kraft Hat Box
Kraft materials surely should take up space in every supply chain becoming the go-to for eco-friendly packaging boxes and more. Retailers can play around with using Kraft as part of their packaging proposition, perhaps using it as the exterior packaging component and pairing it with complementary items such as the Spruce bag to protect and pack individual components.
4. FSC Certified Gift Boxes
FSC certified gift boxes are a progression of smaller items such as sustainable papers, helping us make more substantial packaging elements just as environmentally friendly as those finishing touches.
Again, these products are made from wood sourced from a sustainable forest, ensuring all ethical and environmental considerations are covered before it's even manufactured, in line with the FSC’s regulations.
Featured: Magnetic Sample Box
The great thing about such eco-friendly packaging boxes is that they can balance the need to show environmental ambition with offering an optimised experience to every customer. With FSC certified boxes, there’s no trade-off. For luxury retailers, this item is a win, allowing products to be showcased in their best light and even finished with acid free tissue paper—all while keeping carbon goals at the forefront.
5. Reusable Bags
For physical operations, eco-friendly packaging boxes and mailing bags aren’t applicable, yet sustainability still matters in this arena. Instead, reusable bags are set to become even more prominent than they already are in physical retail spaces, encouraging shoppers to partake in sustainable practice by buying a branded bag to then take along to future trips. Instigated by the plastic bag charge in the UK, reusable bags are now known as a great alternative to single-use plastic carriers.
Reusable bags are sustainable because they’re reusable. Unlike single-use plastics, we can utilise reusable bags many times, driving down their ultimate environmental impact.
Featured: Linen Bag
However, coming in many varieties, the composition of reusable bags can also be more carbon neutral than its plastic partner. From the vegan leather alternative, jacron to biodegradable fabrics like linen and organic cotton, there are many ways to adopt reusable bags as a retailer and feel good about its fool-proof logic.
The Future of Eco Packaging Products, Made Simple
- Sustainability isn’t an easy goal but it’s one every fashion brand must have on their agenda to please their customers, offset the environmental impact of the industry and, in most cases, commit to a carbon footprint initiative that’s being pushed in their country.
- While innovation drives environmental progress, it can sometimes overwhelm organisations, making them look in the wrong direction or wait for too long to take action.
- To improve the environmental outlook of a brand’s packaging immediately, there are some simple, straightforward solutions on the market that can offer alternatives to the worst offending materials (such as plastic) and most importantly, provide a scalable, localised service for international operations.
- Despite the fears of many retailers, sustainable packaging doesn’t mean style has to sink into the background. Packaging can still live up to the experiential expectations of the modern-day consumer and appear just as luxurious as its contents.
Getting a handle on your product packaging is just one way to make your organisation’s offering more sustainable. After reading, eco-friendly packaging should feel easily attainable, no matter how widespread your production or complex your supply chain is.
So, if you’re looking to set your sights on new eco horizons, explore our sustainability checklist. This simple resource will instantly highlight the other areas you need to work on to achieve your environmental goals.
The best part—it’s free.
Just click on the link below and gain instant access to an environmental resource, created by experts.