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Packaging Solutions: How Can You Make Your Packaging More Environmentally Friendly?

Reusable Packaging

When you assess your packaging needs, you may be looking for environmentally friendly packaging solutions.

Consumer awareness of sustainability has grown. Moreover, Australia’s National Packaging Targets require that by 2025 all packaging should be reusable, recyclable or compostable.

At Gateway Packaging, we’re a packaging company committed to helping our customers to source eco-friendly products. If you’re looking for ways to make your packaging more environmentally friendly, where should you start?

Consider sustainability. Assess all packaging for its sustainability—that is, for its reusability, recycling potential, and compostability.

Environmentally friendly, sustainable packaging solutions: reusable, recyclable, or compostable

Sustainable packaging is environmentally friendly. Over time, it uses fewer raw materials and requires less energy in manufacturing. It can save costs for users too.

Many companies use reusable packaging, in many different forms, in manufacturing, during transport, and in warehouses. This type of packaging is designed to be durable. It’s made of metal, glass and wood, and includes items such as bins, tanks, and pallets.

Although reusable packaging may be more expensive initially, its reuse ensures that it’s not only efficient, but also offers cost-saving benefits.

Recyclable packaging is made from recycled materials, such as wood, paper, glass, and some forms of plastics. Always innovative, the packaging industry constantly develops new products from recycled materials, in response to both consumer and industry demands.

While compostable packaging and biodegradable packaging seem similar, they’re different. Compostable items are those such as wood and paper, which will degrade into natural elements over time. Biodegradable materials however, need microorganisms such as bacteria to break them down into their natural elements.

Have you decided to make changes?

Changing your packaging materials and operations takes time. You need to assess what you’re using, and consider alternatives too.

Make changes slowly to avoid disruption, and to make the best choices for your operation.

How to change your current packaging: take it slowly

With so many eco-friendly options available, it’s tempting to choose packaging products and add them to your operations quickly. This can lead to problems. For example, products made from recycled materials can be challenging, although their overall usability is improving.

When considering alternatives, order samples, and trial them, so you can find the most suitable materials.

Consider how customers will perceive your products in their new packaging too: presentation and appearance is vital. Although customers will appreciate your efforts to protect the environment, they buy products which look appealing.

Let’s look at some tips to help make your packaging more environmentally friendly.

1. Minimize packaging for your products, while ensuring protection

Your products need protection during their journey to consumers. However, extra packaging is expensive: for you, as well as for consumers and for the environment.

Assess your products for their size and weight, as well as for the handling they’ll undergo in shipping. Consider the packaging materials you’re using now, and look for eco-friendly alternatives. You may be surprised that minimizing your packaging is achievable, and assists profitability.

2. Reuse and recycle in your operations

Reusable packaging saves time, as well as money. Check your operations to look for items which may be reused. How many times can they be used before they’re discarded?

You may have recycling options in your operation too. Ensure that you recycle materials and packaging as much as possible. Although this can cause disruption in the short term, over time your efforts should enhance your profitability.

Your suppliers may be able to help. Discuss packaging solutions with them. Chances are that they’re concerned about packaging too.

3. Label packaging for its reuse and recycling options

Although recycling is vital, many people are confused about which materials can be recycled.

Consumers appreciate informative labels so that they know what reuse and recycling options they have. Businesses appreciate labelling too. Evaluate your packaging. Which materials can be used again? What about recycling?

Consider adding “how to reuse/ recycle” labels to your packaging.

When you’re buying packaging materials, ask your supplier whether printing options are available, so that you can make labelling easier.

4. Look for sustainable, eco-friendly packaging

Manufacturers are delivering more eco-friendly packaging solutions, so you may be surprised at what’s currently available. New materials include packaging made of seaweed, cornstarch, and for edible packaging in the food industry: chitosan, which is made from the chitin skin of prawns.

Gateway Packaging offers a range of eco-friendly products, including padded paper bags, and eco-friendly bubble film.

5. Innovation: get creative with packaging solutions

Businesses are taking “reusable, recyclable, or compostable” to heart in innovative ways. For example, some businesses choose to implement a returns program for their product packaging.

Although these kinds of programs are challenging to implement, and inefficient in the short term, they offer marketing benefits over time. Consumers appreciate them.

Reusable Packaging

Get advice on sustainable, eco-friendly packaging solutions

Unsure? If you’re looking for packaging solutions to minimize both packaging and costs, while being eco-friendly, contact Gateway Packaging. We can offer advice on sustainable options—we can help with both equipment and products.

Reference

Government packaging covenant