The packaging industry has been around for a while. Initially, food packaging was the largest sector of the packaging industry. According to McKinsey.com, this industry is a $900 billion worldwide industry. 

But now with the enormous e-commerce wave, the packaging industry is riding on it too. 

Also with the Covid pandemic, the industry has seen high growth over various sectors. Due to lockdown, there has been a surge in packaging for e-commerce shipments.

Packaging waste
Packaging waste

Effect of packaging materials on the environment:

Generally, materials like paper, glass and plastic are used for packing products. These often include end-user packaging leaving no scope for recycling or upcycling the packaging materials. 

This excess and wasteful packaging is causing plenty of problems for the environment. Often this waste ends up in landfills to sit there for years and make carbon emissions. Incineration of this waste contributes to air pollution. Plastic ending up in water bodies is no more a rare sight. But at this point, there is an added pressure to reduce the environmental impact on the planet. 

Producing and disposing of waste, both activities take a huge toll on the environment. 

Sustainable packaging:

The future of a healthier planet is sustainability. Sustainable, Green or Eco-friendly packaging is using developed techniques and materials that are sustainable. Sustainable here refers to the items being biodegradable, made using limited energy and does not harm the planet. Thus, they help with managing the overall ecological footprint. 

Sustainable impact is taken into consideration at every stage, right from manufacturing, the supply chain, end-use and disposal. For packaging, points like the package design, materials, processing and the life-cycle are taken into consideration. Sustainable packaging companies are working to decrease the carbon footprint of their products, by using more recycled materials and reusing the packaging components. Their job doesn’t end here, they further ensure that their suppliers, distributors and customers follow the same practices. 

Some different types of sustainable packaging alternatives by unleashedsoftware.com:

  • Sustainable packaging peanuts
  • Corrugated bubble wrap
  • Air-pillows made of recycled materials
  • Cornstarch packaging
  • Mushroom packaging
  • Seaweed packaging
  • Recycled cardboard, paper 
  • Eco-friendly plastic and recycled plastics
    Eco-friendly and sustainable packaging
    Eco-friendly and sustainable packaging

Importance and advantages of sustainable packaging:

At this point, anything that is truly sustainable or eco-friendly is very important for the planet. When a particular product like sustainable packaging uses fewer resources, releases fewer carbon emissions and is easier to dispose of it becomes important. Many times, it not only helps the brands economically but also there is a positive impact on the brand image. This overall helps in getting better sales. A sustainable initiative can always translate to a sustainable supply chain. The company may also get benefits from the government for going green. This highlights a win-win situation for all, the customers, the company and the planet. 

Apart from everything else, this type of packaging is more important for food products. This not only helps to keep the food safe but also helps with a longer shelf life. 

Sustainable packaging companies around the world:

  • EcoWare:

EcoWare is India’s largest consumer brand for sustainable food packaging. By using ‘spent grain’ as their main product with various binding agents they carved out various items like edible spoons and plates. Under the brand name, they took the next steps to focus on product development, manufacturing and building further partnerships. Anusaya, Apoorva and Varun, three students from India have innovated edible cutlery. 

  • Ritual:

Ritual is a vitamin supplements company that has taken sustainable packaging seriously for its business. Their bottles are made with 100% recycled materials. The current mailers are made from recycled newsprint and plant fibers. In early 2020, the company also launched a carbon offsetting program with Carbonrefund.org as the Carbonfree® Shipping Partner. 

  • Eggplant:

The company Eggplant provides advanced bioplastic packaging solutions. Their main feedstock is using wastewater to get high-performance bioplastics through a zero-waste process. They provide the solution of putting wastewater to use and providing sustainable packaging solutions. The different applications of the product include industries like electronics, cosmetics, biomedical, aerospace, consumer, agriculture, packaging, etc. Their developed business model ensures economic, social and environmental sustainability. 

  • VegWare:

A manufacturer and visionary brand, Vegware, specializes in plant-based compostable foodservice packaging. Available in 70countries, the company helps contract caterers and distributors to achieve their sustainability goals. They sell 300+ products made from renewable, lower carbon or recycled materials. The company also has a full-time environmental team on board to help businesses find sustainable solutions. 

  • Swiss Pack:
Swiss Pack sustainable packaging
Swiss Pack sustainable packaging

 

The company Swiss Pack has a range of different eco-friendly/environment-friendly packaging products. Their three ranges of products include fully recyclable mono-material that come in different shapes. Their next product is an oxo-degradable product with paper that dissolves into healthy compost within 85 days. The plastic-free paper bags have a special food-grade coating inside and are also heat sealable.

 

 

 

It is crucial now for companies to switch their old habits and adopt these sustainability practices. These practices will eventually be fruitful for the customers, the business and the planet. 

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