Improve Your Packaging Sustainability this Earth Day

With Earth Day approaching, companies might use this annual reminder to re-evaluate their sustainable packaging initiatives and goals. While many associate environmentally friendly packaging options with higher costs, fortunately, there are many ways to balance sustainability and cost, so we can successfully reduce our carbon footprint.

In this article, we are looking at some of those strategies.

Why does it matter whether you use sustainable packaging materials and methods?

Reducing our environmental footprint has become increasingly important for businesses of all types and sizes. Eco-conscious consumers actively seek brands and companies that prioritize sustainability and environmentally friendly practices. How sustainable a business is can also affect whether investors are willing to work with them and invest money in them.

By embracing packaging sustainability, companies can improve their brand reputation, differentiate themselves from their competition, and attract a greater number of customers and investors. Sustainable practices will often lead to cost savings through reduced material usage, optimized logistics, and better operational efficiencies.

What are sustainable packaging materials?

Sustainability can mean so many things to different companies. When we say “sustainable” or “environmentally friendly” packaging, we’re referring to materials that can be recycled, reused, are biodegradable, or have been produced from renewable resources. Sustainable packaging options are those using materials that will be used again or can be returned to the earth, causing less environmental impact.

For example, at The Packline Company, we offer packaging options like Paragon PCR stretch film made from 25% post-consumer recycled content. Another eco-conscious supplier we have partnered with is Airwave Packaging which offers a range of 100% climate-neutral products, such as inflatable void-fill packaging made from 100% recycled paper, and home-compostable material made from potato starch. We also promote recyclable bags, mailers, and other types of flexible packaging to help reduce your carbon footprint.

The term “sustainable” also involves how much energy must go into creating the material. The less energy required, the more sustainable the packaging material might be in this stage of its life. With this metric in mind, contrary to popular belief, many plastics are more environmentally friendly than their paper counterparts. This is especially true if they are made from recycled content because they require much less energy to produce than it requires for many paper products.

Airwave Packaging EcoWave Climate Friendly Packaging Machine
Airwave Nano with Ecowave Air Pillows (82% PCR)

Which packaging options are best, paper or plastic?

When it comes to adopting sustainable packaging materials, both paper and plastic options have benefits. We at Packline are material neutral and have options with many substates to help with your companies’ initiatives.

The primary advantages of paper and cardboard packaging are that most are typically easy to recycle for the consumer and are biodegradable. Many forms of paper dunnage and corrugated can be recycled and reused many times before they are finally discarded. These materials can only be recycled so many times before the fibers break down and lose their ability to do their necessary packaging job. 

Some advantages to plastic packaging are that it is less energy-intensive, no trees must be cut down, and it is very lightweight, lowering transportation needs. Flexible plastic has a lower dimensional weight than cardboard packaging, reducing your freight costs and allowing more products to be sent in fewer shipments. 

With so much information, one can often find the best resources right in our backyard. We urge you to contact your local municipalities to understand what materials can/cannot be recycled and what programs are available in your area for advanced recycling.

It’s important to use less packaging

No matter which type of sustainable packaging materials you choose, the critical factor for managing costs and environmental impact is using as little as possible to transport your product effectively. Down-gauging and optimizing the material delivery is required for stretch film, bags, and other plastic-based packaging. For paper and corrugated packaging options, this means right-sizing your container to the product or reducing the amount of protective packaging needed. Both strategies will reduce your footprint, material costs, and dimensional weight to optimize your transportation costs.

There isn’t always an easy solution to figuring out how to use the most sustainable packaging materials possible for your products. We recommend trying to minimize the amount of material used in the packaging, choosing recycled over virgin resources, and ensuring that the resources going into your materials are procured from renewable sources.

At The Packline Company, we offer a broad range of sustainable packaging materials. We like to start with two basic questions:
“What are your sustainability goals?” and “How will you measure them?” As you think about your environmental impact this Earth Day, schedule a call and let our team examine your current packaging options to help you achieve your sustainability initiatives.

Interested in sustainability?

With over 75 years of expertise, Packline is your go-to partner for innovative packaging solutions. Whether it’s reducing your packaging usage or switching to recycled materials, we have the right solution for you.