5 Sustainable Packaging Ideas for Your Business (It Doesn't Include Styrofoam!)
With the worsening waste pollution across the globe, it’s no surprise that businesses are looking for more eco-friendly packaging alternatives. The boom in eCommerce as well as small and medium enterprises during the past two years should not equate to more wasteful packaging.
Why make the switch to sustainable packaging for your business?
Helping the environment should be the first reason your business chooses sustainable packaging. This type of packaging is not only made from recyclable or biodegradable materials; it's also made through eco-friendly processes. Truly sustainable packaging is already eco-friendly, even during the production phase. It requires less energy and resources to produce compared to traditional packagings like styrofoam and plastic.
Walk the talk
For good reason, there are a lot of companies that are adopting corporate sustainability practices nowadays. Mentioning that you care about the planet on your company profile is one thing, but actually taking the right steps towards reducing your company’s environmental impact speaks volumes. More and more consumers are becoming more conscious of their carbon footprint and how the products they use can impact the environment. Showing that your business takes action is a display of your integrity and commitment to creating better, more eco-friendly solutions.
Easily reused or recycled
Single-use plastic may seem convenient in the sense that you use it once (as you may have guessed from the name), throw it away, and never think about it again. However, single-use plastic is more likely to end up polluting our seas than recycling centers. On the other hand, there are sustainable packaging options that can be easily reused or recycled. Examples of these are cardboard boxes and reusable tote bags.
When done right, switching to sustainable packaging can be a cost-effective solution. With good quality sustainable packaging, you know that the packaging is sturdy and does its job of keeping your product safe during transport. This means you don’t have to double up on materials like shrink-wrapping or unnecessary aesthetic fluff. Staying true to your sustainable, minimal, and effective packaging principle will help you save packaging expenses in the long run. Additionally, you won’t have to pay for the transport of bulky and unnecessary packing materials.
Five sustainable packaging ideas
Here are some sustainable single-use and styrofoam alternatives that you can try for your business!
Compostable mailers or bags
Good for: courier or delivery businesses
Compostable mailers or bags are made of natural plant starch, meaning they break down easier than single-use plastic bags. You can work with a sustainable packaging supplier who can add simple branding and disposal instructions.
Good for: takeaway food
In comparison to traditional plastic containers, cornstarch packaging is cheaper and less harmful. As the name suggests, it’s made from corn starch, which is biodegradable and food safe. Cornstarch packaging is the best sustainable packaging choice for food businesses as it is oil-resistant and sturdy. Most importantly, this type of packaging can break down over several months when disposed of correctly.
Good for: products that need support or cushion during transport
Popping plastic bubble wrap can become a relaxing pastime after unboxing, but there’s a bubble wrap alternative that you should try if you want to be more eco-friendly. Honeycomb paper is usually made from sheets of kraft paper that are die-cut to mimic the hexagon shapes of honeycomb. The interestingly-shaped paper can cushion products and avoid damage during transport. Additionally, because of the strong material, customers can reuse honeycomb paper for sending out their own packages as well.
Seed or plantable paper
Good for: products that usually use regular paper like wrap-around packaging for bundles or thank you notes
If you’re the type of business owner who wants to write thank-you notes for every order, why not switch to seed paper? Seed paper has every quality of regular writing or packaging paper, but with an added gift: a new plant. It’s made from recycled paper waste and embedded with seeds, meaning customers can tear up their seed paper packaging, plant them, and watch them grow! Using seed paper for thank-you notes or packaging is a great gift to help your customers connect with nature.
BYOC or Bring Your Own Container
Good for: brick and mortar stores
While this may not be a feasible option for all businesses depending on their sales channel (example: exclusively online stores), area, or types of products, you should try exploring this when you can. You can offer a small discount to customers who shop and use their own reusable bags or containers. This can start as a promotional thing during specific days of the week to drive traffic to your store, then turn into an ongoing activity. By participating in the "bring your own container" activity, you help encourage eco-friendly practices and foster customer loyalty by passing on the savings that you get from not using additional packaging.
Sustainability is more than just a buzzword; it’s a continuous effort from everyone, including businesses. There are more ways in which your business can adopt sustainable, eco-friendly practices, but sustainable packaging is a good start. Whatever option you choose, you can always make it your own and keep your branding visible by discussing your requirements with a trusted supplier. Make sure that you're communicating not just your brand’s visual elements but also your business's core values.