Sustainable retail packaging has become increasingly popular in recent years and is quickly evolving from a “nice-to-have” to a necessity for brands. This is, in part, due to people’s increasing awareness of the impact of consumerism on the environment – and the desire to minimize said impact. Surprisingly, people will actually pay more if that means buying from a brand that prioritizes sustainability.
Another fact that has sparked this trend is that consumers are more conscious about the brands they buy from – many prefer to do business with companies that align with their values. Hence, the desire for sustainable retail packaging is on the rise.
With all of that said, it is clear that if you have not already, you should think about how you can incorporate sustainability into your retail packaging approach. While there are many ways you can make these changes, one great way to start is with your packaging materials.
Recyclable packaging is desirable for many consumers – in fact, 67% of people agree that it is important. Using recyclable materials lowers the demand for virgin ingredients and, in turn, the amount of carbon emission that would result from processing them and producing the desired packaging components.
These components can be made from 100% recyclable paper and nonwoven plastics, like rPET for instance. Because plastic can take hundreds of years to decompose and has negative effects on the environment, many eco-conscious consumers will opt for paper. However, when it comes to durability and longevity, plastic takes the cake.
The good news is that you can source both plastic and paper components from post-consumer recycled materials. Choosing recycled plastic keeps it out of landfills and oceans, helping preserve and protect the environment. Recycled plastics are also a plus for industries, like food and grocery, in which using plastic is unavoidable.
The right sustainable packaging provider can make the following components from both pre- and post-consumer waste, and/or materials that are recycled or recyclable:
Once recyclable packaging has served its purpose, it can be placed into a recycling bin, where it is taken to a recycling plant, broken down into its raw form, and made into new materials. In order to achieve packaging circularity, create components from recycled materials that are also recyclable.
Different from recyclable components, biodegradable packaging cannot be recycled. To break down, it needs to be placed in an environment that facilitates its decomposition.
Biodegradable packaging components deteriorate when they are exposed to microbes, light, moisture, and air. They are not considered compostable because they take longer to break down and leave behind a few natural elements: water, minerals, biomass (organic matter), and carbon dioxide.
Similar to biodegradable components, compostable packaging cannot be recycled and needs to be processed through an environment specifically made for composting. All compostable materials are within the biodegradable category, however, not all biodegradable materials are compostable.
Compostable packaging materials break down into carbon dioxide and biomass within six to 12 weeks. Once they break down, compostable materials leave no toxic particles or chemicals. Instead, they turn into one organic compound: humus, which is a dark, nutrient-rich material that also results from decayed plant or animal matter.
Overall, biodegradable and compostable packaging materials can help minimize waste and appeal to sustainability-minded consumers. Poly mailer bags can be sourced from both of those materials, should be labeled accordingly, and come with some sort of disposal tips.
Since sustainability is such an important part of the retail industry, you want to make sure you spread the word on the strides you are making toward a greener future. Use sustainable packaging certifications on your components and share your sustainability approach through your marketing efforts, packaging text, labels, or print materials.
You will also want to provide instructions on how to dispose of biodegradable, compostable, and recyclable packaging to ensure that people can do their part with confidence. Since some consumers may not have the means to properly dispose of their eco-friendly packaging, they may want to take them to a commercial plant that has the right disposal conditions.
Achieving a sustainable packaging solution that is as visually appealing as it is environmentally friendly can be challenging. Thankfully, our team of packaging strategy experts at Edge2Edge can help you create a solution that represents your brand well.
Contact us today to create eye-catching, custom, and sustainable retail packaging.