Finding the right manufacturer is critical for any job, and sustainable packaging is no exception. After selecting a sustainable material, finding a suitable manufacturer is the next step in developing eco-friendly packaging.
Edge2Edge Packaging is an expert packaging service provider. We know packaging manufacturing inside and out and can help you develop the ultimate sustainable retail packaging products for your brand.
In this guide, we share our insights into the best sustainable manufacturing practices, so you know what to look for in your next packaging producer.
Manufacturing products in a sustainable manner requires producers who operate conscientiously across the board. Done right, manufacturing can add social, environmental, and economic value by minimizing negative social and environmental impacts and maximizing positive ones.
Sustainable manufacturing is becoming an essential strategy for growth and global competitiveness for many organizations.
Consumers are taking notice. Sixty-seven percent of buyers factor a company’s impact on society and the environment into their purchasing decisions.
These producers typically approach sustainability in a holistic, connected manner. However, for simplicity’s sake, we’ve broken down some of the more common practices into two categories—environmental and social.
Measuring and managing key environmental metrics is necessary for manufacturers to operate sustainably. These optimized environmental business practices typically revolve around waste, energy use, and resource conservation.
Intelligently reducing, reusing, and properly disposing of excess production materials is key to improving efficiency and eliminating unnecessary waste in manufacturing. Since waste is also bad for a business’s bottom line, this is an easy win-win for companies and the environment.
Sustainable manufacturers evaluate their processes in all stages of production, identify opportunities to reduce waste, and implement these practices. For example, producers who reprocess scrap material into additional packaging products or improve a part of the manufacturing process to eliminate waste altogether reduce both their costs and carbon footprint.
Sustainable manufacturers find ways to lessen their energy use; lower energy demand equals fewer greenhouse gas emissions. Some producers also incorporate or fully switch to renewable energy sources for their production processes, lowering greenhouse gas emissions.
Solely using clean energy can also be leveraged as a part of a strategy to achieve net-zero carbon emissions packaging. This means that the greenhouse gas emissions generated from production are equal to or less than those removed from the atmosphere. Hundreds of companies have pledged to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.
Both waste management and energy use are tied to resource conservation. There are finite amounts of many natural resources. Even in the case of renewable resources, it is important not to deplete them more quickly than we can replenish them. Sustainable manufacturers are aware of this and thoughtfully use natural resources.
Water is a great example of a valuable resource that many sustainable manufacturers conserve. These producers lessen their water use and/or utilize recycled water, also known as gray water, in place of freshwater to prolong the life of our drinkable water resources.
While the environment is integral to sustainability, it is also important to work with manufacturers who consider the impact of their production practices on people.
Consumers demand ethical supply chains where workers are treated fairly, and human well-being is prioritized. According to the 2020 Conscious Consumer Spending Index, 72% of shoppers will consider how a company treated employees during the pandemic when buying a product.
Here are some of the top social impact factors that consumers care about for manufacturing.
Factories with good working conditions support the well-being of their employees. They give workers regular breaks, set reasonable hours, and do not utilize child labor.
Ethical manufacturers also pay all employees a living wage. This amount can vary depending on the production location. Essentially, a living wage allows workers to afford a decent standard of living, including food, shelter, education, and other basic needs.
Conscientious manufactures consider both worker and consumer health and safety. They optimize their production processes to minimize the risk of injury or illness to workers and create products that are safe for consumers.
Many of these practices are being widely adopted in the industry. Not only do they benefit people and the planet, but there is a strong business case for leveraging sustainable manufacturing practices to generate your packaging products. Your brand can reap the following benefits from these operational strategies:
These certifications help you identify companies with ethical packaging manufacturing practices.
ISO is an international organization that issues standards for a variety of sectors and practices. Third-party certification bodies can then audit a company and confirm that it complies with a given standard. There are three standards in particular that manufacturers can meet to demonstrate that they follow sustainable manufacturing practices.
This standard focuses on improving the quality of products and services—manufacturers who follow the principles of this standard use a process approach for continual improvement. ISO 9001 can be applied to reduce waste in manufacturing processes.
This standard encourages companies to improve their energy efficiency and sourcing by developing an energy management system. Manufacturers certified to comply with the ISO 50001 standard are actively working to address their environmental impact through energy management.
Producers meeting the ISO 14001 standard employ an environmental management system to reduce their environmental impact and meet their sustainability targets. The standard contributes to many of the United National Sustainable Development Goals.
SMETA is a globally recognized social audit. It allows businesses to better understand and evaluate the working conditions in their supply chain. The audit detects and helps businesses address any social issues in their supply chain.
The SA8000 Standard is a social certification program that facilitates fair and decent business practices for workers and high social standards. The certification assesses a company’s social criteria, including child labor, health and safety, working hours, and remuneration.
It is crucial to identify manufacturers who implement sustainable practices to help reduce the environmental impact of your packaging and meet your company’s sustainability targets. These manufacturers should also operate in an ethical manner where their workers are treated well.
Fortunately, Edge2Edge Packaging has already done the legwork for you. We can connect your company with the right manufacturer to make your sustainable packaging design come to life.
We have built a global network of trusted retail packaging manufacturers that can handle high volume orders. Our network also provides supply chain transparency and optimization.
Reach out to learn more about working with our team to develop your ideal sustainable packaging for tomorrow’s consumer.