Sustainable packaging is the development and use of packaging which results in improved sustainability and minimizing the waste and pollution that end up in our landfills and oceans.
You might have been brought up with the phrase ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’. A phrase that should be reflected in and essential to your business values today. Not only if you care about and want to help the environment, but also increase brand loyalty amongst eco-conscious consumers.
This can happen in a number of ways. I collected some options and ideas for you, but as always do your own research, but I hope this will give you some inspiration.
Share disposal and recycling practices.
Educate your customers on the best ways to recycle and dispose of your packaging materials. You can share general best practices by clearly labeling reusable or recyclable packaging.
Use recycled packaging materials.
Recycled packaging is a great way to extend the life of previously used materials. When deciding on boxes, mailers, or containers, you may want to consider using packaging that’s made out of recycled materials.
Paperboard cardboard is one of the most common examples of recycled packaging. Paperboard is created using used paper pulp, which is also lightweight and can easily be cut and formed, making it ideal for shipping boxes.
You can also opt for containers and mailers that are made from previously used plastic materials such as single-use bags and bottles. These plastics are processed at a recycling facility and put back into circulation in the form of packaging supplies.
Corn Starch Based Materials
Instead of using synthetic polymers, a new material has been developed using polylactic acid (PLA). PLA is made from fermented sugars, usually from cornstarch and the materials made from it are biodegradable which is important for the environment.
If you dispose of it correctly, packaging material made from cornstarch will break down into carbon dioxide and water within several months. However, if you don’t dispose of the material correctly, cornstarch-based material will take longer to decompose, especially if there is no oxygen or light available. Therefore it is important to share recycle pratices on your packaging.
- Save for food and resistant to food fats/oils
- Good for print applications
- Low flammability & UV resistant
- High aroma barrier
- Compostable and recycable by regrinding
Sugar Cane Packaging
The main ingredient used in the production of packaging products is actually not Sugar Cane but Bagasse. Bagasse is the dry pulpy residue that is left after extracting the juices and sugars from the Sugar Cane plant. It is commonly used for biofuel and is a basic ingredient used in producing Sugar Cane Packaging.
- High tolerance to heat, making it oven-safe.
- Biodegradable: Fully degrades in soil in 180 days and composts in 45-60 days in a composting facility.
- Manufacturers produce this material from the sugar cane plant, which is a renewable resource.
It’s an award-winning packaging idea. Agar, which is a substance that is found in a variety of seaweeds and algae, has many applications, especially in the food industry. One of its newest applications for instance is making organic, eco-friendly packaging materials for various purposes.
The benefits of seaweed packaging, according to Greenbiz, extend beyond keeping plastic out of the ocean. They report it takes a hectare of ocean to create 40 tons of dry seaweed and during processing, that same volume can absorb 20.7 tons of CO2 emissions. The only drawbacks at the moment seem to be the price, because seaweed packaging currently requires manual processing and is therefore more expensive than plastic. The second difficulty is figuring out how to scale production.
Unlike styrofoam, Mushroom Packaging consists of 100 percent biodegradable and renewable material that can be recycled directly in and by nature, since it is made of fungus roots and residues from farming. After use you can break it down and compost it at home. Using mushrooms inherent growth power, packaging can be manufactured with minimal energy use. The manufacturing process begins by mixing fungus sprouts, or mycelia, with seedlings or other residues from agriculture. Mycelet consists of a network of wire-like cells that act as a natural adhesive.
It has no need for either light, water or chemical additives. Therefore the mycelium grows by and around the residues to the desired packaging form. After one week, a drying and heat treatment process stop the growth. The result is a fully natural composite material that has similar material properties like synthetic foam plastics such as styrofoam.
The basic concept of plantable packaging is easy. It decomposes like its forerunner compostable packaging but in addition contains seeds. So you can burry the packaging in the soil to disintegrate and as a result get flourishing flowers or herbs.
Get some more ideas: https://sufio.com/blog/10-eco-friendly-packaging-ideas/