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How can packaging be considered sustainable?

Updated: Sep 14, 2023

Packaging is a vital part of any product's lifecycle, protecting the item and making it easier to transport. But with so many different types of packaging on the market today—from plastic bottles to cardboard boxes to paper bags—it can be hard to determine which ones are truly sustainable. Fortunately, there are some ways you can approach packaging design that will ensure your products are environmentally friendly as well as high quality and functional.

Design packaging with the environment in mind.

  • Consider the environment before you design.

  • Design packaging that is easy to recycle and/or reuse and reduces the amount of time it takes to recycle or reuse it.

  • Design packaging that reduces the amount of material used

Use sustainable materials.

  • Use biodegradable materials.

  • Use recyclable materials.

  • Reuse packaging as much as possible (if you can't reuse it, try to recycle it).

Need help sourcing the correct materials? Talk to us.

Reduce the amount of packaging used...

  • Reduce the amount of packaging used. See below example of how Colbar QSR can make it happen for you.

  • Make sure you are using the right amount and type of packaging for your product.

  • Make sure that the packaging is recyclable or biodegradable, if possible.

  • Explore packaging innovation possibilities.

An example, a business we know was able to achieve a remarkable decrease in their bottle weight by improving machinery used in the production process. With the packaging initially weighing 55g, the weight was successfully reduced to 43g. Further analysis led to the use of cardboard cartons instead of shrink sleeve plastic as packaging, resulting in weight reduction to less than 40g. This was made possible as the bottles no longer had to bear weight from layers above them on pallets.

Check out a visual example below demonstrating small but innovative ways of reducing the weight of a bottle.

Why use recycled packaging?

Using recycled packaging offers several benefits for the environment and sustainability.

Firstly, it helps conserve natural resources by reducing the demand for virgin materials. By repurposing materials, recycled packaging reduces the need for extracting, refining, and processing new resources, which often requires significant amounts of energy and contributes to pollution.

Secondly, the production of recycled packaging typically requires less energy compared to creating packaging from raw materials, further reducing carbon emissions and energy consumption.

Furthermore, incorporating recycled content in packaging can resonate with environmentally conscious consumers who prefer eco-friendly products. This consumer preference can lead to increased brand loyalty and positive brand perception.

In summary, using recycled packaging promotes resource conservation, waste reduction, and lower energy consumption. It aligns with sustainability goals and appeals to environmentally conscious consumers. It's a win-win.

What's the difference between recycled packaging and recyclable packaging?

Recycled packaging and recyclable packaging are two distinct concepts in the realm of sustainability and environmental consciousness.

Recycled packaging refers to packaging materials that have been through the recycling process and are made from recycled content, while

recyclable packaging refers to packaging materials that have the potential to be recycled but may or may not be made from recycled content.

Both concepts play a role in reducing waste and promoting sustainability, but they address different stages of the packaging life cycle.

What next?

If you need assistance exploring packaging innovation possibilities, please feel free to reach out to us via our Contact page.

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