Plastics have integrated every sphere of our lives. We use them every day in our kitchens, schools and almost every place of business you can think of. But while there is a lot of talk about plastic, there’s not a lot of discussion about the different types of plastic.
Not all plastics are the same, and there are plenty of eco-green packaging innovations that make use of sustainable plastics easily available.
We know that how humans are impacting the earth is harmful and that we all need to be focused on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Close to 50% of emissions from the United States are linked to the energy that is used to make, package, ship, and dispose of food and goods.
A shift to sustainable plastics is the solution.
However, there are other benefits. They can also contribute to savings in business operations. It is good for brands as well as the environment. Efficient and flexible packaging makes business sense.
Defining ‘sustainable’ packaging
How can you determine if the material used in industrial packaging is sustainable? A critical component is to look at is where the materials are sourced.
The raw materials used for them should be obtained using clean methods. Then there are different characteristics to look out for. One is the issue of inert chemical properties. It means that the material is safe for consumption and doesn’t release toxins.
The benefits of making the switch
Making a case for cost savings is an essential factor in motivating manufacturers to move to eco-friendly packaging. If they can achieve a cost-effective business model, and improve their environmental impact, everybody wins.
So, what are their options? Lightweight polyolefin material can be more cost-effective to use compared to corrugated paper, or glass. That’s because less energy is used, and fewer greenhouse gases are emitted when using eco-green plastic packaging.
Transport costs and storage costs also reduce because the materials are lighter. They are also less expensive to dispose of because they are recyclable, reusable and in some cases compostable. They are also durable (so product is less likely to be damaged) and easier to process, which cuts down on labor and material investments.
The use of recyclable materials is the best way to reduce the volume of plastic waste we are facing. But how else can brands benefit?
You can expand your customer base. Unilever ran a study in multiple countries to determine if customers would change over to new brands if they showed they used sustainable packaging. The results were impressive. One in four respondents said they would switch if the sustainability credentials were made clear to them on the packaging and in marketing.
Break that down into numbers, and there is over a trillion dollars of unclaimed market share that could be tapped with this approach. Close to eighty percent of American consumers agreed with the statement that they felt better when they purchased items that were produced sustainably.
Customers are eco-aware, and brands should highlight the use of recyclable plastic in packaging to attract new customers, improve their brand loyalty and image, and differentiate themselves from their competitors.
There may be trade benefits too. When Hewlett Packard stopped lead soldering in its manufacturing processes, it was a bold move to make a shift towards greener practices. They developed sustainable alternatives, and it paid off. The change gave them access to sell their products in the European Union, allowing them access to millions of new customers. The investment was an economical and environmental success.
What are your options?
For brands across all industries, there are many options they can explore if they are committed to moving from toxic packaging material to eco-packaging material. Polyolefin materials are very versatile so they can be used in many forms. They also offer superior printability and can be recycled with ease.
Here are just some of the ways polyolefin can be formed into a variety of packaging options. Products such as shrink film and stretch wrap, and carded packaging are all available in the market. Some of the variations of sustainable. Green packaging systems include blister packaging, skin, and clamshell.
With this in mind, businesses have the information they need, the access to innovative materials, and the financial and environmental targets they need to begin exploring packaging optimization. To start this journey and make choices less overwhelming, they should consider the following:
What is the most important outcome for the business when you redesign or create new packaging?
What is an essential tool in the packaging belt that will help you drive greater efficiencies?
What are the other aspects of your product that you need to consider in the design of the new package?
By breaking these questions down, you will be able to determine your actions to take the next step.
Phil Edwards is an Outreach Specialist for Melbourne Packaging Supplies. Our goal is as with quality comes reliability & safety.