In our generation, climate change is the hottest topic to discuss from the political scene to even at the dinner table. Industries are investing more in sustainable practices and environmentally friendly products. Consumers are paying more attention to how industries approach sustainability. The packaging of a product has become so important that it can determine your bottom line.

Some companies need unique packaging solutions. While others continue to use the everyday cardboard box. Either way, companies have now become even more aware of how they pack their products.

Here’s a few options that your company could look at doing to reduce its packaging waste;

1. Avoiding over-packaging 

This one is straightforward. By using the wrong size box or packaging, you:

  • risk damaging your product, as it will bump against the walls
  • need to use more filler material to protect your product, which creates more waste. 

To avoid this, choose packaging with dimensions best suited to your product. That doesn’t necessarily mean opting for custom-made packaging but do consider the size of the product you’re sending and choose the smallest box or mailer that the product can fit safely inside. Ensure your product fits nice and snug to avoid breakage or damage and, if you need a filler, use it in moderation. 

Too much packaging or the wrong sized box and your customer might ask:

  • Has this shop taken enough care packaging my product?
  • Is all this packaging necessary?
  • What can I recycle? 

A huge cardboard box stuffed with useless paper doesn’t just cost more to send and create more waste, it can reflect badly on your brand. By using packaging with dimensions adapted to your product, you’ll communicate your values as a brand that cares about the environment, your products will be more secure, you’ll have fewer returns of broken products, and you’ll do good for the planet.

2. Embrace the humble cardboard box 

Cardboard is a simple and environmentally friendly material. It’s biodegradable, reusable and, in most cases, made from recycled paper pulp. Cardboard boxes are available in a huge range of shapes and sizes, and as well as having a small environmental footprint, double- and triple-walled cardboard boxes are as sturdy as it gets, keeping your products safe and sound throughout the shipping process. Even if cardboard boxes aren’t segregated when thrown into the bin, they easily break down in landfill. All this means cardboard is a sure-fire way to keep packaging clean, cheap and eco-friendly.

Customprinted cardboard boxes or envelopes can be a great option for businesses as they can form an important part of your branding and help grow your visibility and strengthen your brand identity. When choosing a supplier, look for one that uses recycled materials and water-based ink, as this adds even more sustainability to an already sustainable packaging solution. 

When it comes to cardboard, you can also think out of the box. Cardboard envelopes work well if you need to send small goods like jewellery and accessories that need a little more protection than a normal paper envelope, but you want a more sustainable alternative to plastic mailers and bubble-lined envelopes. If you use Royal Mail, there are custom-designed cardboard packaging options made specifically to fit their Large Letter or Small Parcel dimensions – find out more here. This means you can get value for money when it comes to shipping, but in a completely branded way. Or if you sell your products at craft fairs or through pop-up shops, paper bags are just as environmentally friendly. 

3. Support the eco-system with plantable packaging

Packaging that turns into trees? Mind-blowing eco-fumes. Pangea Organics sells 100% plant-based beauty products. To ensure brand coherence across the board, they engineered a way to incorporate organic seeds into their boxes. Slip the label off, soak the box in water and plant it. Voilà! 

Plantable packaging is taking the zero-waste concept to a whole new level. It not only leaves no trace but contributes to improving our environment by growing more plants and trees that draw CO² from the atmosphere.

4. Consider compostable packaging

Compostable packaging degrades under specific conditions of temperature, oxygen, humidity, the presence of microorganisms and, above all, suitable equipment. Depending on its composition, packaging can be composted:

  • in a compost bin (most often in the garden) with bio-waste, like kitchen and green waste
  • or in an industrial composting plant, where temperatures reach 70° C

It then transforms into natural fertiliser.

Compostable is always biodegradable, but the inverse isn’t always true. One thing is certain, like any packaging, compostable or biodegradable packaging shouldn’t be thrown in nature: it doesn’t degrade in the same way in all environments – and while waiting to deteriorate, it could have a negative impact on biodiversity. If you choose to go with compostable packaging, like compostable mailing bags, be sure to include instructions so your customer knows what to do with it.

5. Bioplastics

Bioplastics feel like plastic but are based on naturally available and replenishable biomass sources such as milk, wheat, and meat protein. However, not all bioplastics are biodegradable. This design studio in Iceland was able to manufacture meat packaging from animal skin. The packaging is minimalist and reflects sustainable consumption practices that use the whole animal, reducing waste. The boiling process used to produce the packaging skin minimizes air pollution. Most importantly, the absence of synthetic plastics alleviates the heavy burden caused by rising greenhouse emissions.

6. Done with your Favourite Bag? Compost It!

Biodegradable bags epitomize sustainability. The addition of the term to any product gives the potential buyer the assurance that what he or she consumes will become one with Earth upon disposal. Biodegradability really is the end game, the pinnacle of sustainability success. Regardless, composability isn’t a trend that’s bound to disappear anytime soon. British beauty retailer Boots acknowledges its widespread importance and has also targeted March 2020 as the deadline by which it aims to remove all its plastic pharmacy bags, replacing them with a completely compostable solution.

Remember, don’t forget the little things

You can spend a lot of time and effort getting the material for your packaging just right. But it’s important not to forget the other little bits like invoices, and delivery notes. Make sure they are in line with your company and its ethos.

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