With a growing awareness of environmental impact and a shift towards decreasing both corporate and personal carbon footprints, the aim to reduce waste wherever possible is becoming ever more important, with packaging waste becoming the target of a lot of criticism. The social and environmental impact of corporations is also more often at the forefront of a customer’s mind when purchasing, making a move towards more ecoconscious packaging both better for business, and better for the environment. With a growing awareness of environmental impact and a shift towards decreasing both corporate and personal carbon footprints, the aim to reduce waste wherever possible is becoming ever more important. Here we are taking a look at the best ways for companies to reduce waste;
Minimise Packaging Where Possible
The easiest way to try to reduce packaging is to do exactly that, minimise your packaging use as much as possible, both in the quantity of the packaging that you use, and in the size of the packaging itself. The best way to do this is by ensuring your packaging is sized to match your product as closely as possible using what is typically referred to as ‘Right-Sized Packaging’. The use of right sized packaging not only helps in the reduction of your packaging materials but can also limit the need for additional void fill to protect your product.
The best way to ensure that your product is being sent in packaging which is perfectly sized, would be to order boxes which are custom cut to fit your exact dimensions. This allows for your product to sit snugly within the box, avoiding excessive damage during transit, whilst also providing you with the opportunity to also print the boxes with your own brand for an impressive customer unboxing experience.
However, this can be costly, especially for companies that require a variety of box sizes for multiple different-sized products. In these cases, a more economical option would be to instead buy boxes with variable depths. These boxes feature multi-scored heights wherein a variety of heights have been pre-scored into the box to allow for a simple reduction in box size. Keeping packaging as small as possible also has additional financial benefits in that it can also help reduce both material costs and transportation costs, with small packages taking up less space in warehouses and transit vehicles.
Use Recyclable Packaging
For any packaging that you choose to use, it is worth investing in keeping it recyclable as much as possible. Paper products such as cardboard boxes are easily recyclable, and even plastics such as bubble wrap and stretch film can be recycled at local collection points. This being said, the easier that packaging is for a customer to recycle, the more likely it is to be recycled. There is a wide range of paper alternatives to traditionally plastic products that are available, all of which can be fully recycled, whilst also boasting the additional characteristics of being biodegradable and compostable.
One of the best switches to make would be to swap traditional packaging tapes for Gummed Paper Tape. Not only is gummed paper tape made using a more environmentally friendly material, but it is also applied using a water activated dispenser to create a tamper proof seal on your package. Some Gummed Paper Tape Dispensers also feature automatic
cutting capabilities to cut the tape to the exact length required to seal your box. However, for lower capacity businesses, this can be a significant investment. For an alternative which is both budget friendly and environmentally friendly, Kraft Paper Tape is a popular choice, providing the same sealing qualities as polypropylene and vinyl tapes, but being fully recyclable without the need to be separated from the box. Both gummed paper tape and hotmelt kraft paper tapes are also fully biodegradable.
Reuse PackagingOther commonly substituted products include polypropylene mailing bags and Styrofoam void fill, both of which can be easily replaced with paper-based alternatives. Paper Mailing Bags use a strong 95gsm kraft paper to rival the strength of polythene, with a pilfer-proof opening and glue strip seal for the perfect substitute. Bubble Mailers such as Jiffy bags tend to cause havoc for recycling services because, whilst both the bubble wrap interior and paper exterior are recyclable, it is incredibly difficult to separate the two materials with no residue left over. These can therefore be switched with either Jiffy Padded Bags (which have a recycled paper fibre lining to protect goods), or EcoFlute Postal Bags (which use paper fluting to cushion goods).
Meanwhile, in the case of void fill, we are proud to offer 100% environmentally conscious void fill, with a variety of alternative options to suit individual business needs. The best of these options for recyclability are Air Cushions and Paper Void Fill. Whilst Air Cushions are made out of plastic, the Low Density Polyethylene is fully recyclable at local collection points and is perfect for securing delicate packages. However, the best material for recyclability would be Paper Void Fill. Paper can be recycled up to 4 times more than plastic, and it is also recyclable curb side, making it easier for the end user and therefore more likely to be recycled.
Much like the common environmentally conscious phrasing, the best thing for your packaging once it has been reduced and made from recyclable materials, would be to look into potential ways to reuse your packaging, both as a company and as a consumer. Products such as paper and cardboard have an almost never-ending number of ways in which they can be reused, whilst plastic products such as bubble wrap have the material strength for consecutive reuses before eventually being recycled. With enough creativity, there is a wide variety of ways in which various packaging materials can be reused at home, and this can even be incorporated into the packaging itself, such as Puma’s Clever Little Bags campaign or AO’s castle-inspired packaging.
Packaging can also be reused at a warehousing level by investing in machinery such as a Cardboard Shredder. These can be used to repurpose used cardboard into either padding material or flat padding mats to help cushion further mailings whilst also reducing future packaging costs.
Keep Customers Informed
After ensuring that you are using as little packaging as possible, and that it is both recyclable and reusable, it is equally important to ensure that your customers are aware of the environmentally conscious features of your packaging. A greater awareness of how to properly dispose of packaging increases the chances that it will be. For example, a box that is filled with paper void fill and sealed with a paper tape can easily be folded and recycled in any household recycling bin. Meanwhile, boxes featuring Air Cushions should make it clear that they should be disposed of correctly depending on the local council facilities, for some customers this may be curb side, whereas for others recycling plastics at home may contaminate the entire batch. Organisations such as RecycleNow are a great resource for information about localised recycling facilities.