Sustainable packaging is beneficial for a number of different industries.
As sustainable packaging picks up momentum, its reach has expanded across many different industries. The consumer demand and business appeal for a more eco-friendly approach to product packaging is at an all time high. This comes as a direct result of a shift in culture to a “going green” mentality, which spans anywhere from recycling cans to an all-encompassing lifestyle change. Not everyone is interested in the extreme (all organic, holistic way of life), but many people would prefer to leave a positive mark on the environment instead of a negative one.
Food and Beverage
The largest and most obvious industry that uses sustainable packaging would be the food and beverage industry. Being the industry that has the highest potential for waste, there is a drastic need for packaging with a greater environmental performance and business value.
Although sustainable packaging has existed for decades, the degree of sustainability has been developing in recent years and its reach has been expanding. Manufacturers are realizing that less packaging can lead to greater efficiencies in the supply chain and manufacturing process. The food and beverage industry is no exception. In fact, experts predict that in the next few years, more of those in the food and beverage industry will turn to sustainable packaging than ever before.
Health, Beauty and Personal Care
The reputation of using unethical and environmentally careless business practices is one that the health and beauty industry has a hard time getting away from. The growing awareness of eco-impact and the consumer’s desire to steer clear of brands that aren’t proactive in taking care of our planet has moved many in the industry to aggressively pursue more environmentally responsible products. Many business owners are investing more to reduce negative impact on the environment by way of greener formulations and sustainable packaging.
Packaging has the highest environmental footprint of cosmetic products, so it would make sense that sustainable packaging would be at the top of the list of steps to take toward reducing the carbon footprint. While some in this industry are utilizing sustainable packaging by implementing the use of biodegradable plastics and recycled materials, and others have found alternative ways to reduce packaging waste, there’s definitely room for growth.
The medical field is another industry, like food and beverage, which requires a high level of sophistication in packaging. While food and beverages need to be preserved and well-protected for healthy consumption, medical items have very specific requirements when it comes to sterilization, aseptic processing and uncompromised barriers. From medical devices to pharmaceuticals, vitro diagnostics and biotechnology, medical product packaging has to be in compliance with the general health and safety requirements by the U.S. FDA Code of Regulations. Sustainability is less of a priority in medical packaging, but is still something being pursued.
The fashion industry has not exactly been known for valiant efforts toward sustainability. Textile dyes release harmful metals and chemicals into our aquatic system during manufacturing, attributing 20 percent of the global industrial water pollution, according to The World Bank. On top of that, the ‘throw away culture’ of the developed world is only contributing to the mass of clothing in landfills.
Sustainable packaging is one change that the fashion industry can make to improve environmental efforts, and many have. With the increase of online shopping, the need for protective packaging has increased exponentially over the past decade. This protective package is usually discarded when it arrives to its final destination.
Every 30-40 days the average person discards their body weight in packaging. These boxes, bags and wrappers total 30 percent of our garbage by volume and 50 percent by weight. Fashion e-tailers that have switched to 100% recyclable poly mailers from their rigid counterparts have decreased DIM weight and lowered shipping costs. They have saved money with sustainable packaging!
Some industries are well versed in sustainable packaging and some are just now trying it out to see if it can really work for their specific set of needs. The truth of the matter is, in many cases, it’s not as difficult or costly as it seems, and the benefits far outweigh the inconvenience of making a change.