The Importance of Sustainability
Now more than ever, consumers are becoming conscious about the environmental impact of the products they buy. Light is being shed on the waste created from production on every kind of product, from clothes to toys to beverage products. Production aside, another environmental issue worrying consumers is the waste that is created when products are eventually disposed.
So environmentally-friendly, sustainable packaging is obviously very important. But what exactly makes a product sustainable? Well, according to GreenBlue, a green certification organization that founded the Sustainable Packaging Coalition, sustainable packaging should check off all these things:
- Made from materials deemed safe and healthy for individuals and communities throughout its life cycle
- Meets market criteria for performance and cost
- Sourced, manufactured, transported, and recycled using renewable energy
- Constructed using clean production technologies and best practices
- Has a minimal impact on the environment from cradle to grave
- Designed to optimize materials and energy use
By following these guidelines for packaging, companies can cut down on the waste they produce and put consumers more at ease about the environmental impact of their purchases.
Who Cares About Sustainability?
A growing number of consumers care about sustainability. The majority of younger adults and teenagers tend to care about environmentally-friendly alternatives more so than the majority of older adults. However, adults tend to be influenced by their children and vice versa so green attitudes can be transferred that way.
Additionally, demographics with higher levels of education and more disposable income tend to ‘lean green’ because many sustainable products are more expensive than their ordinary alternatives. Because they are more expensive, people with lower incomes might not purchase green products, even if they would like to, due to financial constraints.
Corporations in Transition
Since environmental impact is starting to become a prevalent thought in the mind of more consumers, corporations are paying attention to the sustainability, or lack thereof, of their own products.
For example, fast food giant McDonald’s has already responded to this growing trend. Acknowledging that their packaging is not up to consumers’ environmental expectations, the company issued a statement about its plans to replace its current polystyrene drink containers with containers made from recycled or fiber-based materials. Overall, McDonald’s is trying to show its customers that it is dedicated to becoming more sustainable in cutting down on its packaging waste.
Another brand giant that has turned toward green initiatives is L’Oréal. L’Oréal has begun funding the eco-brand Seed Phytonutrients, which has created the first ever water resistant, “shower proof” paper bottle. The bottle is made from 100% recycled material and contains a sustainable surprise once the product is used up. The package can be pulled apart to reveal seeds you can plant. This brand has face, body, and hair products, all in sustainable packages.
Like Seed Phytonutrients, other brands are taking inspiration from plants and incorporating them into their eco-friendly products. The brand T2 Mini Fruits has created a 100% glueless, recyclable fiber paperboard fruit packaging that mimics the natural peel of the fruit.
Similarly, the brand LidLoc is using 100% recyclable paperboard to turn the traditional paper cup design on its head. Instead of having a paper disposable cup and separate disposable plastic lid, LidLoc has designed ingenious packaging that acts as a paper cup and lid all in one. The cup looks a little bit like a paperboard takeout box, in that you simply fold the sides down and secure them to create a lid for your cup.
Innovations like these propel the market for sustainable products and catch the attention of consumers, impressing them and convincing them to choose the greener option.
How to Make Your Packaging Eco-Friendly
Transitioning to sustainable packaging might seem like a complete overhaul, but in doing so, you will be responding to a rapidly growing consumer trend and investing in a greener future. By responding to what your consumers want and updating your packaging to reflect socially conscious values, you are giving your business strength to compete in a changing market that is increasingly favoring environmentally-friendly products. With these things in mind, here are some beginner steps to ease into the transition:
- Approach packaging design with a “recycling lifestyle” mindset. Get into the habit of thinking about creating packaging that will be easy for your consumers to recycle.
- Evaluate each component of your packaging with the goal or reducing weight and materials.
- Examine the size of your packaging and come up with any and all space-saving opportunities to benefit your customers.
- For appropriate products, try to make the packaging completely reusable.
- Come up with designs for convenient packaging consumers will enjoy, without any extra material added.
- Focus on improving your customers’ experience with your brand without adding any extra packaging or material.
Within The Company Overall
Once you get into the habit of thinking green, you can move on to more drastic steps in your transition to sustainable packaging. These steps include cooperation and involvement from the entire company. Going green is certainly a group effort, so here is a brief outline of next steps to take:
- The concept of new sustainable packaging is approved and directed from the top of the company. This is a top down effort.
- Sustainable packaging is defined clearly and in accordance with FTC guidelines.
- Current packaging products are evaluated as to their sustainability and a benchmark is set for future packaging.
- The move toward sustainable packaging aligns with other sustainability priorities in the company. This helps create a culture of sustainability within the company and adds strength to accomplishing the goal.
- An ongoing program is put in place to measure and monitor progress.
- Quantifiable and time-bound targets and goals are established to keep the process on track.
- The move toward sustainable packaging is marketed and promoted to customers. Customers are now looking to companies to become more green and sustainable, and will reward such companies with their business and loyalty.
When it comes to product sustainability, consumers have spoken. More and more consumers are becoming conscious of the effect their purchase habits are having on the environment, and are looking to companies to create responsible and earth-friendly products.
It is becoming clear that sustainability is the way of the future and now is the perfect time to make changes to keep up with the evolving market. Transitioning products and packaging to become more eco-friendly is a lengthy process, but more importantly, it is a wise investment for the future.