Understanding the full scope of sustainable packaging

4 mins

According to targets set by Paris Climate Agreement, emissions need to be reduced by 45% before 2030 to prevent the increase in further global warming concerns. Fortunately, there are several ways to reduce your environmental impacts as a business, including: local sourcing, reduced energy consumption, and cutting down on travel. But what many tend not to realise is how to reduce the full extent of packaging materials and their impact on our planet.

Whilst packaging is an essential piece to the multifaceted puzzle of logistics, to achieve a sustainable packaging operation, it is essential to look at the three key elements of sustainability: preservation, reduction and circularity.

In this article, we explore the true performance of sustainable packaging to help your business stay ahead of the game.

Three key elements of sustainable packaging

Sustainable packaging can be broken down into three main categories: preservation, reduction, and circularity. Let’s explore each in further detail to help us understand how sustainable packaging can make a difference.


This refers to any packaging materials that help conserve the environment, such as where renewable resources are used. This eliminates the need for any materials that leak into the environment, causing damage to our planet and life that inhabits it.

For example, Styrofoam packaging takes around 500 years to decompose and is commonly used in the form of packaging peanuts. Whilst it has the potential to be somewhat sustainable, this depends on everyone playing their part in the recycling process. That’s why many opt for sustainable alternatives.

Made from natural, nontoxic sources, paper alternatives to traditional plastic packaging fillers are a great sustainable solution. Solutions such as honeycomb paper wrap, are designed to be recycled after use, and provide complete protection for fragile parcels.


Reducing packaging materials is a fundamental part to increase sustainability. This can be achieved with the redesign of your packaging solution, aiming to cut down on material usage while still protecting your valuable products.

For example, introducing a custom-fit box that results in minimal void is an efficient use of material.

Similarly, the adoption of a stretch wrap that is either pre-stretched or stretched through the machine will significantly reduce the amount of material needed to wrap your pallets efficiently.


Circularity involves the use of recycled content and reusable products to help close the loop on unsustainable material usage. This means using packaging products that can be widely and easily recycled to be used again, as well as packaging that can be re-used as packaging or can be turned into something practical after use for maximum return on the material.

For example, corrugate packaging that can be folded into a clothes hanger, or a cardboard pizza box that can be turned into a projector.

Metrics and indicators for assessing sustainable packaging

As we’ve discovered, there are many ways to define what sustainable packaging is. Which means there is also tons of metrics and indicators which can be used to assess packaging sustainability.

Metrics and indicators allow you to understand the current performance of your packaging solution, establish baselines and objectives for future packaging initiatives, and determine what can be done to improve sustainability as a whole.

Some examples of sustainability metrics for packaging include:

  • Packaging material waste and their carbon footprint
  • Recycled and renewable content
  • Total cost of packaging
  • Packaging weight
  • Packaging to product weight ratio

By taking a data-focused approach that combine several pieces of information, you can better understand the true performance of your sustainable packaging over time.

Sustainable packaging from Swiftpak

At Swiftpak, our mission is to make your operations as productive and stress-free as possible in an environmentally and socially responsible manner. We believe that innovation and sustainability go hand in hand, meaning we’re passionate about finding and providing new solutions to help your business stay ahead of the competition.

Why not join us towards a greener future in packaging? We offer free, non-obligation packaging audits that provide in-depth analysis and solutions on ways to reduce your footprint. Contact our friendly team today or explore our sustainable packaging solutions. Together, we can make a real difference.