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The importance of sustainable product packaging

Nikita Tilsley September 17th 2021 - 3 minute read

The importance of sustainable product packaging

Packaging is ingrained in every product that we buy, whether that be something as simple as a tag on a piece of clothing or a cardboard box and plastic wrap to protect a takeaway pizza. What’s becoming more ingrained however is the impact that packaging has on the environment.

As more people become aware of the damage that packaging can have on wildlife and oceans and how much ends up in landfills businesses have to adapt and change the way their products are received my customers.

At Currencies Direct we’ve put together a guide on the best sustainable product packaging practices and how they can change the way people view your business.

Unconsciously conscious

The usage of single-use plastics by many companies globally has driven a change in the way people think, not just in terms of packaging. Single-use plastic straws, cotton buds and drinks stirrers were banned in the UK towards the end of 2020, and even McDonalds chose to stop using plastic lids on their drinks and McFlurry’s in a bid to become more sustainable.

But just what are the alternatives to using plastic, and how do you implement them in your business in the right way?

  • Cardboard and paper

Corrugated cardboard is regarded as one of the most environmentally friendly and sustainable ways to package products, and for the most part is already widely used. However, the downfall when it comes to cardboard is that it cannot be used to keep products fresh (e.g. food based products) and more often than not cannot be used on its own to protect something more fragile.

Though cardboard is perfect in conjunction with another form of packaging, by itself it’s not the way forward.

  • Biodegradable plastics

On the surface biodegradable plastics tick all the boxes when making your packaging more environmentally friendly. The idea that you can still use ‘plastic’ bags and containers to protect your products in transit and still feel great that they will break down if they end up in landfill is enough for many businesses to implement the practice immediately. But most biodegradable plastics are sourced from food crops such as corn, so the production of the sustainable alternative actually drives up greenhouse gas emissions.

  • Cloth wraps

Across the globe, cloth wraps have been used for a multitude of reasons for centuries. More recently the West has started using cloth wraps as product packaging, most notably cosmetics company Lush who sell giftsets in cloth wraps as an incentive for the consumer to re-use the wrap again. Whilst cloth wraps are a cool looking alternative to plastics, they are often not suitable for certain products keeping their appeal limited.

  • Palm leaves

No, really. The use of handcrafted palm leaf boxes have regained popularity across India and Indonesia. Palm leaves are cost-effective, readily available and durable. Though palm leaves have not yet become mainstream, they point towards the sort materials that could be used in packaging in the future.

While some materials are more environmentally friendly than others, any step towards more sustainable packaging is one in the right direction, and consumers will take note of this.

But it’s important to note that environmentally-friendly disposal of packaging doesn’t end when a business sends out a product, it ends with your customer.

It starts at home

Though you can’t physically make a customer dispose and recycle your product packaging in the correct way, you can give subtle hints that that’s the way your brand operates and that’s how you’d like your business to be perceived.

Many businesses use little prompts on their packaging such as ‘please recycle me’ or ‘dispose of me correctly’ as a way to get customers to remember that sustainability works on both ends of a purchase.

Making small changes in packaging, marketing materials and even the text on your website will begin to attract customers who appreciate the steps you’re taking to become as sustainable as possible and in return reward you with a loyal clientele.

There is a long road ahead for businesses to become truly sustainable, and product packaging is a small part of a bigger picture. However, small and important steps taken by both individuals and companies can be the start of building that future in the years to come.

Written by
Nikita Tilsley

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