With the recent and ongoing news surrounding the current state of our ecosystem, the potential for climate change and global warming, and the constant accumulation of non-biodegradable waste and packaging in our landfills, sustainable packaging is coming to the forefront. In fact, sustainable packaging and the use of eco-friendly materials have become more widespread across multiple industries, increasing by a CAGR of over 5% in 2020.
The shift towards modern, sustainable packaging is clear in both industry clients and end consumers. Consumers in many sectors are willing to pay extra for products to achieve the peace of mind that the materials used in their packaging are renewable, which is great news for the environment. Unfortunately, however, along with the increased notoriety come myths and misconceptions regarding sustainable packaging. We’ve compiled the top five, which we will discuss and debunk in detail to clear up any false information.
Myth 1: All Plastic Is Bad and Hurts the Environment
One of the biggest misconceptions in existence when it comes to eco-friendly packaging involves the use of plastic. Plastics of all kinds have gotten a bad rap among environmentally conscious consumers due to well-publicized issues, including the abundance of water bottles and single-use plastics found in our landfills and oceans. In part, some plastics have earned their poor reputation, but others have critical use cases or new production methods that may change our perspective.
What many haven’t considered is that plastic has come a long way in recent years, and many new plastic producers have revamped production with an eye toward becoming more environmentally friendly. Therefore, many steps have been taken to increase the sustainability of plastic, making the materials more durable and lending important contributions to green initiatives. Continued production of single-use plastic is important to many industries, including food and beverage, healthcare, and pharmaceuticals. As a result, proper use of sustainable plastics can have positive effects, such as the reduction of food waste by extending the shelf life of certain foods and products.
Myth 2: Caring About Sustainability Is Only a Trend
When it comes to caring about our environment and using sustainable packaging products, some people continue to assume that the concept is nothing more than a fleeting trend among younger generations or narrow populations. As evidenced by the growth in the sustainable packaging sector, this assumption is far from the truth. Across all generations and population subsets, sustainability seems to have reached far beyond that of a temporary trend.
This is great news for the eco-friendly business. Even for businesses with products developed to serve older populations, displaying eco-friendly materials and noting the sustainable resources in your product and its packaging can help reassure consumers they’re taking a simple step towards helping the planet. This outreach is critical for reaching customers who are already committed to helping preserve our environment by using eco-friendly products and attracts customers who may be newer to the concept of sustainability. By using creative marketing that educates the buyer as well as entices them, you can grow your business while you reduce your impact on the environment.
Myth #3: Sustainable Packaging Isn’t Attractive
While sustainable packaging may dredge up visions of raw materials and bland packaging design, the truth is, you can be as creative with your packaging design with sustainable products as you can with any other. There are a vast number of different sustainable packaging materials, and they can easily become as appealing to the eye as you desire. With a little creativity, products ranging from biodegradable plastic to corrugated cardboard full of eco-friendly recycled void fill can suit practically any need.
Sometimes, less is better, and the packaging design is inherent to the simplicity of the material. Whichever route you choose, sustainable products respond just as well to labeling and other marketing strategies as traditional packaging. Sustainable adhesives are a fantastic complement to your sustainable packaging and can be used for multiple purposes, including attaching design components or more subtle behind-the-scenes packaging considerations.
Myth #4: Sustainability is Only About Recyclability and Zero Waste
It is true that recyclable products and zero waste are important considerations when it comes to sustainable packaging, but the idea that these are the only concepts that matter is false. To begin, the concept of recycling and zero material waste focuses on the end-life of the product. However, it’s even more important to consider the total lifecycle of the product, including how it’s manufactured, transported, packaged, and more.
Glass is a good example of how hyper-focusing on the recyclability of packaging products can lead to future environmental concerns. Although it is recyclable, glass has a bigger carbon footprint than plastic in some cases due to the increased fuel it takes to ship glass products because of their size and weight. Many consumers fail to properly recycle glass products, directing them to the same landfills and oceans as plastic products. A focus on the entire life cycle of each packaging component is critical for environmentally conscious businesses and consumers alike.
Myth #5: Sustainable Packaging Isn’t Affordable
While it’s true that fully sustainable packaging is often not the least expensive packaging option, disregarding sustainable materials because they aren’t cheap is a failure to look at the big picture. Adopting a fully sustainable materials and packaging schematic may seem more expensive initially. However, in the long run, supporting green initiatives that many people seek out can lead to an effective marketing strategy that increases business and profitability.
In addition, many sustainable packaging products are very affordable compared to wasteful packaging practices that aren’t built to suit your business. When analyzing how you can incorporate eco-friendly materials in your packaging, reducing the amount of excess material should be your first step. Limiting packaging and fill reduces cost at the top and lessens fuel costs by reducing the total weight of the package. Then, develop a creative, sustainable packaging solution that allows you ultimate flexibility, such as a pallet stabilization system or waste reduction protocol.
The commitment to transitioning to eco-friendly packaging and material use can be a significant undertaking. The team at APPLIED Adhesives can support you along the way, from incorporating a few sustainable alternatives to developing a comprehensive eco-friendly packaging approach. Partner with us to access a wide variety of the best products, dedicated customer service, and a data-driven process to help you reach your goals while staying within your budget. Reach out online or call us at (800) 274-9801.