How can we make eco-friendly packaging? That is the question. Of the 8.3 billion metric tons of plastics produced, did you know that 6.3 billion metric tons end up in landfills? You read that right! Only a measly 9% is recycled!
Don’t you think that we have a responsibility to lessen that amount, even just a little? Whether you’re a business owner, a graphic designer, or a student, there’s always more you can do to help the cause, and focusing on the packaging we use and produce is a great place to start.
In this post, we’ll discuss how we can identify eco-friendly packaging and how we can design packaging that is sustainable and friendlier to mother nature.
What packaging materials are eco-friendly?
Let’s start with getting to know what constitutes green, sustainable packaging.
Firstly, what packaging materials are considered biodegradable?
- Paper and cardboard: These packaging materials made from trees are completely biodegradable.
- Biodegradable plastic: There are plastic bags which are actually biodegradable and start to decompose when exposed to sunlight.
- Biodegradable bubble wrap: Yes, such things exist! Bubble wrap made from recycled polythene is environmentally-friendly.
- Materials made from corn starch: Packaging items that are made from corn starch are ideal for food. The only drawback is they have limited use or cannot be reused again.
- Materials made from mushroom: Mushroom material is natural, compostable, and takes around 30 days to decompose. So chic and cool that IKEA started using them!
- Materials made from seaweed: Seaweed materials decompose in four to six weeks, perfect for food packaging.
If you’re wondering “what’s ‘the best’?”, there’s no definitive answer to that. As you can see above, each material has its own benefits and potential drawbacks. Ultimately, what’s best, is what’s most suited to your business and your product.
What are eco-friendly plastics?
Who would’ve thought that one day we would be using “eco-friendly” and “plastic” in one sentence? Yet, here we are and we love that technology is moving forward in this way!
Environmentally-friendly plastics may not be mainstream yet, but here are a couple of types to look out for:
Generally compostable, bioplastics decay into natural materials that can break down in weeks or blend with the soil without harming it. They are made from natural ingredients like cornstarch.
2. Biodegradable plastics
These contain materials that cause the plastic to decay faster in the presence of light and oxygen. They are different from bioplastics in the sense that biodegradable plastics are made of petrochemical plastics and may leave toxic residue. Bioplastics, on the other hand, are made from natural materials and don’t leave toxic residue.
One could argue that another way to make plastics eco-friendly is by recycling them. There is another product called ecoplastic, made from high-molecular polyethylene. They’re being used as garden furniture and fence posts.
Parts of your packaging that can be eco-friendly
You may ask, how can I follow this sustainable packaging trend? For the business owners out there, here are some eco friendly packaging materials and recyclable packaging ideas:
Cardboard boxes and paper packaging are leading the way when it comes to sustainable outer packaging, but did you know that you can also use poly mailers? The name itself may sound synthetic but the good news is, they are recyclable!
If you’re shipping fragile items then you need fillers inside the boxes so they don’t break. Again, those biodegradable bubble wraps are revolutionary! And don’t forget the parts holder made from mushroom that brands like IKEA are using.
The container of your product itself can be recyclable or reusable. For example, instead of plastic containers, sustainable brands are switching to glass.
Labels are important, allowing you to proudly display your branding and logo. Being eco-friendly doesn’t mean that your label should decompose right away. You can use a material like BOPP which is both sustainable and sturdy.
Packaging design like tape or stickers
Every part of your packaging can be made more eco-friendly. Little things can make a difference like making sure your packaging tape is made of environmentally-friendly materials, like the one we have at Sticker Mule!
Why using eco-friendly packaging is good for your business
1. Customers prefer businesses who are helping save the planet
According to the 2019 Edelman Brand Trust Survey, 71% of consumers surveyed said that a company’s environmental impact was a big factor in their purchase decision.
2. Did we mention that you’re saving the planet?
We cannot stress this enough. With so much plastic waste ending up in landfills and oceans, it’s important that we do our part, no matter how small it may seem.
3. It improves your brand image
Following the two points mentioned above, this contributes to an overall improvement in brand image. Not only can you call yourself a green company, you are also contributing to real change in the world.
4. Sustainable packaging doesn’t have to look ugly or boring
Just because you’re doing your bit for the planet doesn’t mean that your branding has to suffer. Check out the below examples of eco-friendly packaging that are on point.
Examples of eco-friendly packaging
Brands are getting on the bandwagon of using sustainable wrappers and designs for their products. Here are some companies using eco-friendly packaging:
Alima Pure This beauty brand sells its makeup in refillable compacts. They're also part of the group called ‘1% for the Planet’, an organization whose members donate 1% of their annual gross revenue to environmental causes.
Alter Eco They make heavenly sweets and the best part is, they're all made with natural ingredients. Aside from that, they also use recyclable packaging.
Seed Phytonutrients Known for making the first shower-friendly paper bottle, this company creates bottles made from 100% post-consumer recycled paper and plastic liners!
Hopefully, we can include your business in this list very soon! Have you already made use of our eco-friendly poly mailers or packaging tape? Send us a photo and we can feature you!
If you haven’t yet, we hope you consider using recyclable, customized packaging for your next shipment!