In recent years, almost every business has aimed to become as environmentally friendly as possible, whether that be by using environmentally friendly products or just simply turning equipment off when not in use. In the packaging industry, the growing trend of becoming more environmentally friendly has been taken off, and it would seem that even consumers are looking to embrace the trend. Businesses are now starting to choose environmentally friendly packaging over that of non eco-friendly packaging, and consumers are becoming more and more influenced by this choice.
There are a number of ways to make your business more environmentally friendly, with the choice in packaging being the common focus for all businesses. Choosing packaging made from recycled, renewable ingredients is a simple way to reduce negative environmental impact. For packaging to be considered eco-friendly, it must have a minimal impact on the environment during its life cycle (from the creation of the packaging to the recycling of the packaging). There are a number of advantages to using eco-friendly packaging:
- Decreases your Carbon Footprint: The obvious benefit to eco-friendly packaging is reducing your carbon footprint. Being made from bio-degradable, recycled materials means there is less waste of natural resources.
- Disposal: Another benefit of eco-friendly packaging is the ease of disposal, often costing a considerable amount to move and dispose of supplies. Eco-friendly packaging on the other hand is compostable, reusable, and recyclable, meaning that after its original use, the packaging can be buried (compostable), recycled (Broken down and made into more packaging) or re-used (you can either re-use it yourself or recycle it to be used again).
- Brand Image: One of the biggest benefits of using eco-friendly packaging is how it reflects on your business. When consumers learn you’re using eco-friendly packaging, it reinforces the idea that your business is a responsible company, willing to look out for the environment. Better brand image leads to better sales and better profits, all because you looked out for the environment.
- Cost Benefits: The best news for your business is that eco-friendly packaging is actually cost-effective. With companies reducing the materials used in their packaging, manufacturing the packaging ends up costing less. With fewer materials, packaging weighs less, saving on transportation costs when compared to before.
However, the main question is, do consumers really care about eco-packaging? Well, fortunately, it appears they do. According to an article from sustainablebrands.com, “more than three-quarters of consumers claim that eco-friendly packaging has an influence on the beverage brand they purchase." Consumers are even willing to purchase products that might cost a little more if the packaging is eco-friendly and are sometimes even willing to avoid a specific brand for their lack of eco-friendly packaging. All of this information has lead to a large majority of businesses taking the environment into account as a part of their business strategy, looking to focus on using eco-friendly materials -- with renewable materials becoming a key focus from businesses.
While the stats do look promising, it’s worth noting that “environmental factors were a bigger influence for more developing countries like Brazil, Turkey and India, than in already developed areas like the UK, USA or Japan.” Developing countries saw around 60% of all surveyed saying that they actively look out for environmental information when thinking about purchases, compared to only 25% from the more developed countries. In another article by campaignlive.co.uk, it is said that in an online survey of 1,000 people, conducted by Toluna, “Almost two-fifths of respondents said they would be more likely to buy a product if it had less packaging than a rival’s. More than one-third said they thought some products have too much packaging, and 32% said they like products to have a lot of packaging, only if they are fragile.” It is shown that consumers link the amount of packaging on a product with value, with over-packaged products causing consumers to believe they will have to pay more for it, as well as the obvious impacts on the environment compared to well packaged eco-friendly packaging.
Paul Ward is the Managing Director at Direct Foam and Packaging (since 2013) & Direct Packaging Solutions (since 2001). Direct Packaging Solutions is a privately owned supplier of packaging materials, protective foam, and postal products to the trade, industry, and end users, with three sites open across the UK; Stockport, Deeside, and Blackburn.