Eco-friendly Packaging

Why is sustainable packaging so expensive?

5 mins

It’s clear that demand has been shifting towards more sustainable packaging solutions. However, while consumers want their packaging to be sustainable, they also expect the same great packaging experience they’ve had in the past, in terms of protection and quality, so this can be a challenge for packaging manufacturers.

But maintaining quality is not the only issue that manufacturers face. According to Raconteur, 43% of brands have cited cost as one of the biggest challenges in switching to sustainable packaging.

Despite the high demand for sustainable packaging from consumers, another study by Inverto shows that there does seem to be conflicting opinions about whether consumers are prepared to pay additional costs for sustainable packaging. 50% of company experts did not think they would pay more, while 46% were confident they could pass on at least part of the costs. However, according to a survey presented to customers, 72% did reveal they were willing to pay extra for sustainable packaging. So, you can see the clashes of different opinions.

But the question is, why is sustainable packaging so expensive? Read on to find out.

The expense of sustainable packaging explained

The reasons and theories as to why sustainable packaging is so expensive usually surround freight, transportations costs, manufacturer demands, or material shortages. But what’s the truth?

While using recycled materials is becoming increasingly more popular, particularly since the Plastic Tax bill was passed, using recycled and new materials on average is still known to be more expensive than using virgin materials.

In fact, a Telegraph article noted that sustainable packaging materials can cost 50% more than the regular kind of packaging materials. This is because most sustainable packaging materials are relatively new and do not have the same scale of production. So additional research and development investment is needed to change the machinery line, hence the added expenses. There’s also the fact that most sustainable products are also manufactured using renewable energy, and as of right now, this costs more money.

Another aspect that sometimes adds to costs are the eco certifications. These certifications are important as they show the consumer that a product or company is genuinely eco-friendly and that there is no sneaky greenwashing taking place. But in order to have an eco-certification, quality control and inspections, certification costs, administrations costs as well as marketing costs need to be paid for.

Additionally, the insufficient recycling in the UK does not help the situation. Waste collection and recycling is not co-ordinated centrally. It is instead completed by local authorities, and this results in inconsistencies and hinders closed-loop recycling of materials. The insufficiency of recycling not only slows down the progress of sustainability and makes it harder for investment in recycling facilities, but it also leads to a lack of material supply for packagers as the waste stock is lacking or of poor quality.

Whether it be boxes, tape, or voidfill, short runs of a sustainable packaging product will currently be substantially more expensive than a long run of a non-sustainable packaging product because of the costly changeover time and related costs. This is not helped by the packaging shortages we have experienced over the past year due to a number of issues that are explored in one of our previous blogs.

Despite the increasing popularity over time, there is still not enough pressure from the public by people purchasing sustainable products right now. As we know, the push for sustainable products is increasing all the time so this adds to the hope that these costs will eventually go down and with the push it’s only a matter of time until sustainable products will increase on industrial scale making them cheaper.



Why should you still choose sustainable packaging despite the extra costs?

Even though conventional packaging is cheaper, sustainable packaging is still worthy of your time and investment. One huge advantage of sustainable packaging is that whilst protecting the environment, it also attracts a demographic of environmentally-conscious consumers to your product – and this demographic is growing fast!

If your business is not supporting the eco-friendly movement, then it’s highly likely it could be left behind in the marketplace instead of being an early adopter. After all, 90% of CEOs have stated sustainability is fundamental for success as customers want to interact with and purchase from businesses that share the same sustainable practices and goals.

There is also the fact that circular packaging solutions can be reused, so by opting for sustainable packaging you can actually save yourself from spending more on replacing single-use packaging materials. To find out more how you can drive your business growth through sustainable packaging, take a read of our latest article on innovation and sustainability. Alternatively, you can also discover all there is to know about sustainability and its many aspects via our Complete Packaging Sustainability Guide

Sustainable packaging from Swiftpak

As a certified B-Corporation, at Swiftpak we care about the environment and reducing our environmental impact as much as we can, whilst also helping our customers to do the same.

With 45 years of experience, we take pride in helping you look for eco-friendly packaging options without breaking the bank. Feel free to contact us today and our packaging experts will be more than happy to help you find the eco-friendly packaging your business needs.