It’s no secret that around the world, people have become much more conscious about their environmental impact.
A recent study shows that 45% of Generation Z shoppers have stopped purchasing from certain brands because of sustainability concerns. Similarly, 64% of consumers said they want brands to do more to reduce the materials they use, and to ensure the packaging materials are as sustainable as they can be. 70% are also willing to pay more for sustainable packaging.
Due to these consumer demands, as well as legislations that have come into place such as The Plastic Tax, the drive for sustainability is ever increasing. The problem is, due to a range of different factors, do compromises on performance or budget have to be made in order to implement sustainable packaging? In this article, we will find the answer.
What are the three main elements of sustainable packaging?
Let us start with the basics. When it comes to sustainable packaging, the desire is often focused on three main elements –
- Preservation: Conserving the environment by using renewable material resources and eliminating leakage into the environment.
- Reduction: Decreasing the carbon footprint by assessing and ultimately eliminating greenhouse-gas emissions
- Circularity: Closing the loop by improving recyclability and usage of recycled content with the aim to ultimately re-use resources.
Even though the three pillars of environmental sustainability are interlinked, numerous corporations focus on circularity and reducing their footprint. In the world of packaging, that could mean using recycled content to increase circularity or redesigning packaging to avoid shipping air which reduces their carbon footprint.
It’s also important to remember that just because a material has low carbon, it does not mean they always have the highest recyclability or use of recycled content.
Photo credit: Mckinsey & Company
The good news is, Governments on all continents, have responded to public concerns regarding packaging waste, especially single-use packaging waste, and are implementing regulations to minimize environmental waste as well as improving waste management processes.
Does sustainable packaging perform as well as plastic packaging?
Quality and performance are often seen as a weak point as it is widely believed that sustainable packaging is not as strong or cannot do the job required as well.
At Swiftpak we believe it all depends on a company’s sustainability goals. If a business is keen to recycle and operate in a relatively closed loop, then plastic might actually be the better option for them as it can be recycled more often. Or perhaps they may want to have a lower carbon footprint, in which case plastic is also better as paper has a larger carbon footprint than plastic does. This is explained further within our Complete Packaging Sustainability Guide.
However, if your company is one that wants to focus on decreasing leakage into the environment, there are several alternatives available that serve the same purpose as plastic packaging, and performs just as well, such as:
- Paper Voidfill – Paper Voidfill is the perfect protective packaging solution. It’s versatile and reusable and fills the excess space in your package to prevent movement. Not only is this a sustainable packaging option, but it also requires less material to be used compared to other types of voidfill, which enables savings on your packaging.
- Honeycomb Wrap – the best solution if you are someone looking to avoid plastic. Our Honeycomb Wrap operates and performs almost identical to bubble wrap, only it is made of paper. An additional benefit is that it uses up a lot less storage space with the ability to store up to 250m of paper wrap on a single roll.
- Gummed Paper Tape – offers a tamper-evident seal for your packages and protects your goods as well as the environment, what more could you need?
- Supatak Kraft Paper Tape – An eco-friendly taping solution. This paper tape is reinforced with a high strength, high tack adhesive to suit all your sustainable packaging needs.
The possibilities for sustainable packaging are never ending, with new developments always coming onto the market. Despite the widespread misconception that you must make a compromise when choosing sustainable packaging with the allowance for it to underperform, this does not have to be the case if you choose the right sustainable packaging solution for your business.
It’s also important to note that plastic packaging products are also seeing progress in sustainability by increasing use of recycled content. For example, our MWrap’s recycled content is up to 30% without compromising performance.
Do you have to compromise on price for sustainable packaging?
Unfortunately, right now there is an increased cost when choosing sustainable packaging, with sustainable materials said to cost up to 50% more due to a variety of factors including these packaging materials being relatively new and not having the same scale of production. Despite the increasing popularity over time, there is still not enough pressure from the public purchasing the sustainable packaging products right now. However, demand for sustainable packaging is increasing all the time so this adds to the hope that these costs will eventually go down, and with a push, it will only be a matter of time until sustainable products increase on an industrial scale making them cheaper.
With 67% of consumers being environmentally aware and finding the recyclability of their packaging important and 83% of younger generations willing to pay more for sustainable packaging, you could say that choosing sustainable packaging is worth the extra cost to keep up with the current demands and consumer expectations. Especially as over half of consumers look for recyclability and sustainability information on packaging and use this to decide on whether to purchase.
Despite the increased costs currently, there are savings that can be made with sustainable packaging as it takes up less space and often requires less of the product to do the job. One of the largest costs of packaging is the storage that is needed, but with smaller products and less being used, this allows for more space.
Sustainable packaging from Swiftpak
As a Certified B Corporation, at Swiftpak we truly care about the environment and want to help our customers reduce their impact too. We have a variety of sustainable packaging solutions to help customers reach their sustainability targets – whether that be by using paper or sticking with plastic and recycled content.
If you require help with finding a better sustainable solution for your business, without compromising on quality, feel free to contact our friendly packaging team today who are always happy to help.