May 3, 2021

Packaging is an overlooked, yet important aspect of consumer products.

By: Phillip Akhzar, CEO of Arka

Packaging is an overlooked, yet important aspect of consumer products. A major reason is that it protects the integrity of your brand. Also, it ensures that your product is safe and intact when it gets to the customer. Their satisfaction, being the end goal. So, it is safe to say that you should factor consumer wants and desires into deciding what kind of packaging to use. Yet, you must understand that these consumer needs face constant changes. Currently, there is a global shift from using plastic packaging, to other alternatives. The reason is not far-fetched, as, since 1990, the rate of plastic waste has increased.

Records have it that the US produces over 30 million tons of plastic waste every year. In 2018, 14.53million tons of plastic products went into the municipal solid waste stream. The effect of this on the environment led to a push for sustainable packaging. These are the packaging materials that pose less harm to the environment. The green packaging industry had an estimated market value of $178.6 billion in 2019. Experts predict that it will reach 246.3 billion dollars by 2025. So, in this article, we will look at some of the reasons you need to use packaging that’s sustainable. But first, let us begin with a brief history lesson.

The Evolution of Packaging:

With the rapid growth of civilization, came the need to protect and preserve items. During primitive times, there was a reliance on natural materials like leaves. Then, after the discovery of minerals, packaging met a major shift. Brands shifted to metals, fabrics, ceramics, etc. This is because of how durable they are. The only problem was that these materials made packaging extra heavy. It brought about a need for lightweight packaging materials. 

Before the invention of cartons, was the paperboard box. Then the use of single-use packages went mainstream right after that. With time, many businesses began using modern tactics within their branding. Things like catchy wrapping and logos to draw consumer attention. Again, as we said earlier, the kinds of packaging in-demand changed with consumer tastes. For a while, plastic packaging was an affordable and lightweight option. Yet, it caused serious environmental and political concerns. This is because its overuse led to the choking of landfills. So, government agencies adopted strict regulations on packaging recycling. 

We can see now how packaging has evolved to adapt to changes over the years. These innovations continue to this date, and it has taken over 150 years to evolve. Modern packaging now goes beyond preserving and packaging products. It tends to influence customer behavior and affect their perception of the product. As a result, brands want to meet the concerns and expectations of their customers. This is most often about the safety and environmental impact of their packaging. 

This will bring us to the third limb of this article. We will now look at sustainable packaging and why it’s a good option for you. 

Why Use Sustainable Packaging?

As the world population increases, so does the demand to go green. Customers now associate with brands that care about the

environment and the damage done to it. So, it is important for your packaging to fit these criteria. This brings us to the question, ‘What is sustainable packaging?’ This is packaging that is safe for the environment and recyclable. It reduces our environmental impact and ecological footprint. In all, it is the clear environmental benefits of your packaging. The criteria to determine this is the three Rs – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. As a brand owner, ensure your packaging fits these criteria without losing its quality. Apart from obvious benefits, the recycling industry is growing and you have nothing to lose. 

Official reports estimate that the market value of biodegradable packaging will grow to $120 billion in 2024. This is an increase from 2018 figures where it faced an 85.11% growth. 

Also, customers seem not to mind as well. An international survey had 30.8% of respondents saying they preferred sustainable packaging. 

The goal of sustainable packaging is to create as little waste as possible. Also, it seeks to reduce hazards and burn little or no fossil fuels. 

If you’re wondering how to make the switch, here are some examples that can help:

  • Use biodegradable packaging peanuts insures of Styrofoam. 
  • Instead of the traditional bubble wrap, try corrugated bubble wrap. It comes from recycled cardboard waste.
  • Try inflated air pillows as alternatives to Styrofoam or bubble wraps.
  • Use organic materials like cornstarch, mushroom, and seaweed for your brand packaging. 
  • If you have shipping needs that demand sturdy materials, don’t worry. Recycled plastic will work best. 

Benefits of Using Sustainable Packaging:

Here are a few things you will gain from sustainable packaging:

1. Reduction of Carbon Footprints

Carbon footprint refers to the amount of greenhouse gases that go into the environment. The major cause of this is regular human activities. During production, packaging materials go through different stages. This includes extraction of raw materials, production, transportation, and then, use. Each of these phases lets out some amount of carbon into the environment. Over time, this can cause serious problems, in light of climate change. So, green alternatives use different methods. 

The aim is to reduce these emissions and carbon footprint. Also, sustainable packaging uses recyclable materials which use fewer energy resources. These include some resources like electricity and water. It will also reduce the amount of solid waste and emissions released. From an economic or environmental point of view, your business wins. 

2. It Eliminates Toxins and Allergens 

The production of traditional packaging involves the use of synthetic and chemical materials. These materials pose serious risks both for manufacturers and consumers. One advantage of sustainable packaging is that it’s not toxic. Also, the materials used for this are allergy-free. Many customers want to know what materials make up their packaging. Their main concern is the effect it will have on their health and total well-being. When you use sustainable packaging, you can get rid of these toxic materials. It also affords your customers the opportunity to promote a green lifestyle. There are many biodegradable options that you can use to achieve this. They can create cheaper packaging alternatives for you. 

3. It Sends A Strong Brand Message

Many customers are now being conscious of the environment and climate. They are often seeking opportunities they can use to effect change. As a brand with sustainable packaging, you can draw this buying crowd to yourself. It doesn’t involve any change in your customers’ lifestyle, as this kind of packaging is also effective. As you make these changes, show transparency about the life cycle of your packaging. This sets you apart as a brand that cares about the environment. There is no brand message stronger than this. More customers will want to engage with your brand as a result. 

4. Versatile and Reusable Functions

The greatest advantage of sustainable packaging is that you can use it for other things. This is unlike standard packaging that you will have to throw away after use. Sustainable packaging provides an opportunity to show how creative your brand is. You have more options to work with here. If you are in the food industry, your customers will appreciate sustainable packaging. The reason is that they no longer have to worry about the unhealthy consequences of plastic.
Even at the end of its life cycle, sustainable packaging is still useful. Its biodegradable and recyclable materials have a good impact on the environment. You can reuse them or let them decompose. This decomposition reduces them to job toxic components due to the presence of microorganisms. This waste can, in turn, support the growing life of living organisms. Traditional packaging instead, ends up in the ocean or landfills

5. More Storage Space 

With sustainable packaging, you have innovative ways to use your packaging material. This results in more space for you. While transporting or shipping deliveries, you end up using less space. This will in turn allow you to ship more products which saves you money in shipping costs. Even if you have to store your products for a bit, sustainable packaging is an advantage. Smaller packaging leads to more space on store shelves. With less of your storage facility used, you can increase production. Also, you can take on more projects or expand with all that space. 

6. Safer and Cleaner Oceans

Plastic packaging is one of the greatest dangers to marine life. Reports have it that over 5.2 trillion pieces of plastic weighing about 250000 tons float on the Oceans. The implication is that many marine organisms ingest plastic fragments all the time. Global top companies sell plastic bottles that weigh 2 million tons every year. While it is possible to recycle these bottles, the reality is not always so. A large number of these bottles end up in the ocean instead of recycling plants. Global production of plastics grew from 1.5 million metric tons in 1950 to 359 billion in 2018. In all, worldwide production sits at eight billion metric tons or more. It is safe to say that these figures may increase in coming times. So, there is no better time to make the switch to sustainable packaging than now. Using these alternate sources of packaging will help to control this harmful situation. 

7. Reduced Production Costs

Sustainable packaging is cheaper to produce. This is an alternative to traditional packaging that returns money to your pocket. With this, you gain three things at once. Reduced costs, environmental impact, and positive perception from customers. With corrugated cardboard, for instance, you get to use lesser material. This saves you a lot of money when ordering your recyclable materials. Also, to prevent unnecessary material use, make each delivery box a custom order. By doing this, you can make sure your boxes are the right size and useless material. With the advent of e-commerce, you can now save money on returns. So, when a customer returns a package, you don’t need to send goods back in new packaging. Instead, encourage them to return the good in the packaging it came with. This way, you save a lot of money. With fewer materials, your packaging becomes a lot lighter. Your customers will appreciate this, as lightweight products are easier to recycle. 

8. Increase in Sales

Customers consider many factors before choosing to buy a product. If your brand protects the environment, it is in a good position. Many people have concerns about climate change and want to help. So, trust that they will only give their money to brands that share the same ideology. This will in turn expand your market. It will also help you market your brand and make more sales. As the global demand for sustainable packaging rises, so will your customer base. So, start now to push your brand as one that is conscious of the environment. This will favor you in the eyes of potential customers. Also, it will set you apart from your competition. Using sustainable packaging is now a necessity for businesses. It makes sense because customers prefer to patronize a brand that makes a conscious effort. So, if you want your business to generate leads and prospects, make the switch. Not doing so has dire consequences. One of these is the exclusion of an entire demographic that cares for the planet. You will also lose out on a huge business opportunity. 

Conclusion 

Switching to sustainable packaging is not something you can do overnight. But, now is a good time to start. It is an investment that will pay off both for your brand and the environment in time. The right approach to green production can improve the environment. There are innumerable benefits to gain from using sustainable packaging. We put together all these positive points in this article. Following the tips in this article will give you positive results.

If you have any questions, you can speak to professionals to assist.