Better For The Earth and Your Bottom-Line: What is Sustainable Packaging?

Sustainable packaging is becoming the buzz word of the decade; with companies jumping on the earth-friendly bandwagon by altering their wasteful ways.

While favorite, cash-generating products and consumer goods are least likely to be altered, changing the packaging is one the easiest ways for a company to position itself as an innovative, leader in change. And with a trend towards more ethical consumerism, making packaging more sustainable is one of the smartest, most economical routes to take.

Sustainable Design Factors

As with any type of packaging, the overall design goals are to make it functional, useable and cost-effective. When factoring in sustainable package design, manufacturers must figure out ways to use less material, yet maintain durability; use less energy in production and transport; integrate recyclable, biodegradeable or renewable content; and avoid the use of toxic materials.

Criteria

The most common principals of sustainable packaging are pretty straight-forward: is the packaging beneficial, safe and healthy throughout its life cycle? Is it sourced, manufactured, transported and recycled using renewable energy? Does it have a lower environmental impact in terms of emissions and resources used in production?

Other Traits:

• minimal materials: packaging weight and volume must be reduced
• more efficient: designed optimizing material and energy used
• less waste: overall waste reduced through designed-in recyclability, reusability or degradability
• non-toxic: clean biodegradability, reduced volatile organic compounds, greenhouse gases...
• innovative: made from renewable, recycled materials
• manufactured using the best practices possible

While up-front costs may or may not be higher initially, integrating packaging that uses less material or promotes reusability is good for business in the long run. And with many ways to go greener, it's good business to jump on board!

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