There’s a common perception that sustainable packaging is expensive and difficult to source. That’s just not true. With consumers increasingly conscious about their environmental impact, there’s now demand - making it more accessible than ever.
Sustainable packaging isn’t just a better option for the environment but it's also a great investment, especially for brands actively pursuing a positive brand image. Here’s why the cost of sustainable packaging is priceless.
Is the Transition Really Worth the Time and Money?
Deciding to transition to more sustainable options may seem difficult and costly, but it’s beneficial and will most likely become mandatory in the next decade.
The cost of losing our forests, ecosystems and ocean life is far more disastrous.
The amount of packaging we generate in the fashion industry is terrifying, with the boom of eCommerce and fast fashion contributing to the masses. Packaging is one of the most problematic types of waste as it’s typically designed for single-use and extremely difficult to recycle. Here are 10 devastating stats about packaging waste and its effect on the planet.
- Plastic bags can take anywhere from 15 years to 1,000 years to decompose, meaning they cause lasting damage to the environment.
- 49% of consumers are willing to pay a little more for eco-friendly packaging.
- According to National Geographic, there are currently 5.35 trillion pieces of plastic debris in the world’s oceans with 269,000 tonnes of this floating on the surface.
- Packaging itself takes up almost a third of all plastic production, but only 14% of it will be recycled.
- ‘Single-use’ was even named the word of the year in 2018 by Collins Dictionary and ‘Climate Strike’ held the title in 2019.
- There's now more plastic in the oceans than wildlife.
- Woolcool estimates it has prevented 75 Olympic-sized swimming pools worth of polystyrene from being dumped into landfills in the past year.
- Almost all of the plastic from the ‘Throwaway Living’ era is still sitting in landfills.
- By 2030, the total amount of fashion waste is expected to be around 148 million tonnes.
- Throughout Europe, total packaging waste in 2016 amounted to nearly 87 million tonnes (or about 170kg per person).
How Your Brand Can Benefit From Sustainable Packaging
Consumers are demanding change - and they want it now. Surveys have shown that 53% of consumers would pay a premium for green products and packaging.
Reduces your carbon footprint: If your packaging is made from recycled materials, the carbon footprint will be greatly reduced. Similarly, if the packaging is made from natural materials such as bamboo or FSC-approved paper or cardboard, the growth of such products draws CO2 out of the atmosphere.
Biodegradable: When packaging is made from natural materials, it’s biodegradable. Plastic doesn't biodegrade easily, taking hundreds if not thousands of years to break down fully which releases harmful chemicals on its way. Some eco-friendly packaging, such as corrugated cardboard, will even be compostable.
Improves brand image: Becoming a more environmentally-responsible company creates trust within your customer base. Consumers are actively looking to purchase from eco-friendly retailers. Although it shouldn’t be treated as just a fad, sustainability is a trending topic in the fashion industry.
Easily disposable: Most businesses and places in the UK and Europe have dedicated recycling or disposal locations or services. It’s relatively easy to recycle nowadays, provided you separate your disposables so they can be appropriately recycled.
What Eco-Friendly Options Are Available?
High-end brands are already taking great strides towards sustainable packaging, so there are accessible production processes in place to help brands like yours become more eco-friendly. Some of the options include:
- The FSC logo ensures that packaging has been produced using paper sourced from sustainable forests. This method consumes between 30-50% less energy than making paper from trees, while maintaining high quality.
- Vegetable inks are an environmentally friendly substitute for petroleum-based inks. They achieve vibrant colouring and have the added benefit of being much easier to remove from recycled paper when reusing.
- Eye-catching packaging is less likely to end up in the landfill and more likely to be reused by consumers. However, although having packaging that’s intended for a keepsake is a good start, it’s the brands’ responsibility to educate consumers about it.
- Swap to corn starch packaging for mailing bags or regular garment packaging. The high quality is maintained and it greatly reduces the environmental impact as corn starch is fully compostable.
- Switch from polythene mailing bags to a greener alternative made from sugarcane. As well as being a water-efficient crop, sugarcane absorbs carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as it grows and the finished bag is entirely recyclable.
These are just a few examples of the options available and there are innovative solutions being produced regularly. There have also been many breakthroughs in plant-based and biodegradable plastic packaging which will help achieve the EU target for the UK to recycle at least 50% of household waste by 2020.
To support the drive for a more sustainable future, we want to work with brands looking to make that change. With sustainable sourcing, recycling and improved innovation in production methods, we can help make the fashion industry kinder to the environment and make significant strides towards sustainability.
Positively Impact Your Brand Value by Transitioning to an Eco-Friendly Packaging Specialist
Sourcing eco-friendly packaging can be time-consuming if you don’t know what to look for. You might even need some inspiration from brands and how they’ve adopted green initiatives to get you started.
That’s why we should all make a conscious effort when it comes to our environmental impact, whether that’s researching brands we buy from, moving away from wasteful packaging and choosing to work alongside a manufacturer whose key driver is sustainability.
To help you make packaging decisions that are kinder to the environment, we’ve created our Eco-Friendly Product Guide. To get your free copy, click on the link below.
Still not convinced?
We recently collaborated with Beeco, a group that is all about living without waste. Their team have spent several months researching and assessing the sustainability of clothing fabrics. In their guide, they go over the ultimate list of materials that are (and aren't) sustainable. You can browse this here: How sustainable is your wardrobe?