Sustainable Product Packaging: 6 Packaging Designs To Inspire

The packaging manufacturing sector is an £11 billion industry and a significant contributor to the UK economy.

It is also an industry that is continually evolving, thanks, in part, to technological changes. Public pressure is playing a role too, however; a recent WWF report showed a third of British people are concerned about the levels of packaging used in the products they buy.

Thinking of the response to programmes like Blue Planet II and environmental activists like Greta Thunberg, it’s probably not surprising. It does, however, mean that it’s no longer enough for companies to say they care about the planet. They need to prove their commitment to the environment. Moreover, sustainable product packaging is one of the easiest and most noticeable ways of doing this.

What is sustainable product packaging?

According to the Sustainable Packaging Coalition, sustainable product packaging is packaging that has a limited environmental impact and reduces that impact over time. Examples of this include:

  • Packaging that uses 100% recycled materials or can be recycled.
  • Production processes that make the best use of resources or source materials locally to reduce their carbon footprint.
  • Packaging that is part of a circular economy, extending its lifecycle and usability.
  • Limiting the amount of packaging used, e.g. by reducing void filler (or doing away with it entirely).
  • Swapping single-use plastics for reusable or recyclable products such as cardboard, paper, bio-plastics or other bio-based materials.

It is worth noting, however, that – while all of this packaging may be sustainable – it isn’t always.  Plant-based packaging, for example, has been known to come from halfway across the world, including the rainforests. It’s important, therefore, that companies drill down to where materials come from and how they are manufactured when developing sustainable product packaging – just because the packaging says it’s eco-friendly doesn’t mean it’s sustainable. 

Innovations in sustainable product packaging

One of the best things about the push for sustainable product packaging is the innovation we are seeing in packaging design. Across the industry, companies are coming up with new and exciting ways to package products that reduce their environmental impact.  So, because we know changing packaging can be daunting, we’ve put together six of our favourite new sustainable packaging designs to inspire you.

Fat Face bags as wrapping paper

Fat Face bags as wrapping paper, sustainable product packaging

High Street and online retailer Fat Face have been focusing on sustainability across the board in recent years. This includes not just the materials they use to make their clothes but the packaging those clothes come in. It has reduced its carbon footprint by 8% since 2018. In part, this was down to making the move to recycled plastic bags for its products and recycled paper bags for its online deliveries. 

This Christmas, by using recycled paper bags in its stores that doubled as wrapping paper, it helped its customers reduce their carbon footprint too. Customers could recycle the wrapping paper too, which isn’t always possible with other brands.  Not only is this a great idea, it means customers have increased awareness of how Fat Face are doing their bit, which should – in turn – increase brand loyalty.

It’s probably worth mentioning that Fat Face isn’t the only brand looking to make their shopping bags more useful.  H&M, for example, have bags that turn into coat hangers, as do the HangBag Project and Transforma. Meanwhile, companies like Triumph Plants produce biodegradable wrapping paper embedded with seeds to reduce waste and have a positive environmental impact.

Rejuvenated compostable packaging

Rejuvenated compostable packaging

It’s not just Triumph Plants that are looking at producing products that are less likely to end up in landfill.  Packaging that is biodegradable or compostable is growing in popularity. Rejuvenated is a UK-based company that sells nutritional supplements. They have recently announced they are moving to compostable packaging, starting with a skincare supplement drink before rolling it out to other products. They will package the supplement in a bio-pouch which customers can compost at home.  

In addition, Rejuvenate now offer customers the option to purchase a metal scoop for their products rather than a plastic one (which they’ll be phasing out by the end of the year).  

Compostable packaging seems to be ideal for food-based products; other companies that have made the switch in the last few years include Tea Pigs (who also have no plastic in their tea bags) and Snact snack bars. However, it’s worth noting that while all compostable products are biodegradable, not all biodegradable products are compostable. Companies that are looking to make the shift to either need to make sure their customers understand how to dispose of the packaging properly.

The 60 Bag

The 60 Bag

Biodegradable products seem to have a wider reach than compostable products and can be found in all types of sustainable product packaging, including the 60 Bag. The 60 Bag is a good example of sustainability through the use of materials that have a low carbon footprint and result in minimal environmental impact. The bag is made from flax fibre. The fibre comes from industrial waste and producing the bag takes very little energy as a result. 

The bag looks good and has the strength needed for multiple uses. And, when it’s no longer fit for purpose (which can take a while), customers can be confident it won’t end up rotting in landfill for a hundred years. This is because the bags naturally biodegrade in 60 days. 

Garçon Wines flat wine bottle

Garçon Wines flat wine bottle

Most people would probably say ’round’ when describing a wine bottle and a few may say wine doesn’t come in bottles but in boxes. Garçon Wines, however, want to change that with their new, sustainable, wine bottle design. 

Their wine bottles, which are made from recycled materials (and are 100% recyclable), are flat. And, while this might seem a strange choice, the result is not only pleasing to the eye but cost-effective too.  First, they are 87% lighter than a traditional wine bottle. Plus, they are 40% spatially smaller. This means they need less packaging materials, require less storage space and have a lower carbon footprint. And, because of their design, Garçon Wines estimate each bottle saves the supply chain at least 500g of CO2. 

Gumipod chewing gum boxes

Gumipod chewing gum boxes

Gumipod is another company looking to change how we see traditional packaging by focusing on such a small part of our lives – chewing gum. Much of the focus of sustainable product packaging in recent years has been on larger packages full of void filler or wrapped in too much single-use plastic. Sometimes, however, smaller products can be packed in very non-sustainable ways. 

Chewing gum is a perfect example of this.  Little of the packaging that chewing gum comes in is reusable or recyclable.  Gumipod wants to change this. Their innovative new product is designed to move consumers away from wasteful gum wrappers and help keep the streets free from dropped chewing gum.  The boxes are made from food-grade recyclable plastic and designed to hold 12 pieces of gum on one side and 24 pieces of ‘used’ gum on the other. Hopefully, gum manufacturers will jump on this sustainable product packaging bandwagon.

Accordion Packaging

Accordion Packaging

Not all sustainable product packaging, however, is new – some is just being rediscovered. Accordion packaging, for example, has been around for a few years but seems to be growing in popularity along with the trend for sustainable product packaging.  We’ve come across examples of it being used in clothing, chocolate, and beauty, and it seems to make perfect sense for those wanting to reduce the use of void fillers. 

The benefit of accordion packaging is that it really is a case of ‘one size fits all’ because containers can be made bigger or smaller depending on what is inside.  This is down to the fan-like folds that are used to create the packaging and can stretch as needed. Remember, though, as we mentioned before, the packaging is only as sustainable as the materials it is made from.  

While this design has the potential to be very eco-friendly and definitely ticks the box when it comes to reducing void filler, it still needs to be made from reusable or recyclable materials to be truly sustainable. 

Sustainable Packaging For Business Growth?

The packaging sector is constantly changing and evolving to meet consumer demand.  This has never been more the case than with sustainable product packaging. There are so many options out there for companies to change how they package and ship their goods that there is no excuse not to make the change. And, while the initial outlay may have a financial impact, in the long-term sustainable packaging is providing to not only be environmentally friendly but cost-effective for many businesses. Plus, it means something to their customers, which builds brand loyalty and will hopefully lead to continued business growth. 

Sustainable Packaging: The Must-Have Of 2020

Thanks to shows such as David Attenborough’s Blue Planet and activists like Greta Thunberg, the British public has become acutely aware of the damage plastic packaging is doing to our planet.

It’s no surprise, then, that according to a 2018 European Consumer Packaging Perception Survey, 90% of UK shoppers want easily recyclable packaging. 88% also want to know where their packaging comes from.

Unfortunately, plastic packaging isn’t easy to recycle. Businesses produce 80 million tonnes of plastic packaging every year; only 30% is recycled. The type of plastic is critical here.  For example, dark coloured plastic is harder to recycle. Recycling plants also reject food packaging that contains too much food waste. In response to public concern over plastic, last year the UK government set a goal of eliminating plastic waste by 2042. To reach this, much more plastic must be recycled.

With countries such as China turning away plastic for recycling, however, these targets may be hard to meet.  As a result, we need other solutions to meet environmental objectives and consumer demand, which is why it is so vital for businesses to look at sustainable packaging.

What is sustainable packaging?

Sustainable packaging is packaging that has a reduced environmental impact. Generally, materials are recycled, biodegradable or reusable.  Examples include paper and cardboard as well as reusable plastic, or plastic that is biodegradable or made from plant products. In addition, companies can make packaging more sustainable by:

  • reducing the number of materials used
  • increasing fill-rates
  • using monomaterials (rather than laminates).  

Using sustainable packaging in a business

It’s no longer enough for a business to pay lip-service to environmental issues.  Nor is it to make promises they will make changes in the future. They need to act now, reflecting the values of today’s consumers and government legislation.

One of the main barriers to companies using sustainable packaging in the past has been price. There’s a belief that sustainability is expensive. However, this isn’t always the case. Changes to packaging design and engineering mean implementing sustainable packaging solutions is both possible and affordable. 

Remember, just because the packaging says it’s environmentally-friendly, doesn’t mean it is. So, as well as price, when looking to make the change to sustainable packaging, businesses should consider:

  • Ingredients: Does the packaging use 100% recycled materials, for example, or come from sustainable sources?
  • Production: What production methods are used? What is its carbon footprint, and what steps are in the supply chain? For example, there is much talk at the moment of bio-based plastics (also known as bio-plastics). Made from food crops such as corn and sugar cane, they seem like a good option and a great way to reduce the use of traditional plastic. However, some reports are now suggesting that their impact on the human food chain could be significant, leading to price increases or food shortages.
  • Recyclability: Can the packaging be recycled easily? Do local authorities accept it. Or, will customers have to source a specialist recycling centre (as they do not for products such as toothpaste tubes)?
  • Reusability: How many times can packaging be reused? This links into the circular economy, which is growing in popularity.

Where a business isn’t sure if the packaging is sustainable, they must ask questions and do their research, looking to organisations such as the Sustainable Packaging Coalition or Forest Stewardship Council for guidance if needed.

What is the circular economy?

One of the major areas of discussion when it comes to sustainable packaging is the circular economy, a term that describes returning packaging for reuse for its original purpose. Examples of this might be refillable packaging, which has been trialled by companies such as Unilever, and means the packaging is used multiple times. Another example is seen in the rise of zero waste or zero packaging stores, which ask customers to bring their own containers.

This isn’t a new idea (milk was once delivered by a milkman, for example, and bottles returned). Instead, it is one coming back into favour. It has been successful with beauty products, personal care, and dried food goods. As the idea gains traction, businesses should think about how to use the circular economy for secondary packaging. This is packaging used to pack and move goods before they hit the shelves.

Packaging design

As big-name brands become more focused on sustainable packaging, consumers are seeing lots of different designs enter the market. Some of these are incredibly creative. H&M, for example, has created a bag that converts into a clothes hanger, making the bag reusable and removing the need for a plastic hanger. Plus, the bag contains 80% recycled materials, somethings shoppers want to see.

In creating a convertible bag, H&M are appealing to their target shopper, younger people aged 18 to 35. The 2018 European Consumer Packaging Perception Survey found over 50% of shoppers in this age group considered packaging when making a buying decision. With their bag, H&M is hoping to build brand loyalty as well as reduce their impact on the environment.

When a business is considering what type of sustainable packaging they want to use, they should think about their audience as well as the product being packaged. For example, Biotka produces soy candles. Their customers are looking for natural products that don’t harm the environment. Biotka has reflected this by making their packaging from recycled material and using a minimalist design.

And, as with H&M, businesses should think creatively, giving their customers something more than the product they’re buying. For example, Monday’s Child sells children’s clothing. Customers can reuse their clothing boxes as they convert into dolls houses. UAU is another company who use their packaging creatively. UAU produce 3D art. Their delivery boxes are designed to be used as display stands.

Making a move to sustainable packaging

When a business moves to sustainable packaging, it can be tempting to do so all at once. This isn’t always the answer, however, as it can be disruptive. Businesses must remember to:

  • Make the change gradually, especially if a business has a lot of different products. 

Start with a single line, make the changes and look at how well these work. Then move onto the next line.

  • Use all existing packaging first.

It’s been paid for and to not use it costs money.

It’s much better to do both at once rather than one at a time, which can be more costly and time-consuming.

  • Do research, ask questions, and order samples. 

This way, a business will know what they are buying and how likely it is to work for their product line. Business could also do a test run of packaging too, sending it out to some customers and asking for feedback before making a final decision.

  • Look at how the new packaging impacts the bottom line. 

This may lead to increased costs, which could be passed on to the consumer. A business must understand if their customers will be willing to pay for any increase.

  • Let customers know how sustainable their packaging is. 

Consumers are a key driver for businesses to use sustainable packaging, so don’t be afraid to let them know what’s been done. At the same time, customers may become more aware of a product’s environmental credentials if it comes in sustainable packaging. It is worth, therefore, looking at the products themselves and see how green they are and whether they can be made any more eco-friendly.

Finally, speak to experts in packaging design and development. They can help businesses understand what types of sustainable packaging will work for them. They can develop prototypes and samples and act as a sounding board for a company’s more creative ideas.

The future of packaging

With the shift in consumer focus to more environmentally friendly products and the move by governments around the world to reduce the amount of single-use plastic that ends up as waste, companies can’t afford to not invest in sustainable packaging.

With innovations in packaging design and engineering, this is now more affordable than ever. Which means businesses don’t have any excuse for not making the change. That said, they need to make that change carefully. They need to understand their audience and what they want to see in packaging. And they need to understand the best solutions out there for their business and the products they want to package and ship.

Thinking outside the box could be essential here, which means talking to industry experts to make sure the sustainable packaging a business buys meets their needs. This will also allow them to understand new development in packaging, meaning they can stay ahead of their competition when it comes to sustainability. This, in turn, can lead to increased loyalty from existing customers. In addition, it opens up a potential new customer base of consumers who want to reduce their environmental impact act much as possible.

Circular Economy Packaging: How Is Packaging Playing A Role?

The idea of the circular economy is that we eradicate the linear route from production; to use, to throwing away. We instead loop the waste materials back into materials for use for something else. For example, a company will create a cardboard box to send you your goods, you receive it, and then you put it in the bin, and it goes to landfill. 

With circular economy packaging, that cardboard would be made, used and then either broken down and used for something else or made back into a box. 

World of packaging

In the world of packaging, it can be difficult to understand why all packaging doesn’t get recycled. However, there are complications such as card and paper mixed with plastic or perhaps it’s dirtied with grease. Therefore, there is a transition that needs to take place. One that takes us from the linear culture to the circular economy. 

Everything we buy from a shop or off the internet comes in some sort of packaging. Often it’s difficult to tell whether that packaging goes in the recycling or not.

Therefore, another consideration is what kinds of messaging and information they want to display. 

Right-size packaging

Right-sized packaging is exactly what it says on the tin. It’s ensuring that only the minimum amount of materials surrounds packaged goods. The paper and pulp industry will have to move into this space. It’s quite common to open up your latest delivery and find that the box is mostly empty space and your product is only a small part of it. Not to mention the air-filled plastic that keeps it in the corner of the box. 

Landfill and Recycling

Our landfill is, with any luck, soon to be a thing of the past. With packaging becoming more recyclable, there should be no need to send anything to landfill. The way that the packaging industry will contribute to the eradication of items going to landfill, making it usable again. Even just by reducing the size of packaging can radically reduce the amount being sent to landfill. 

Who is responsible? 

Part of making the move towards the circular economy is recognising who is responsible and ensuring there is accountability.

Packaging companies have a responsibility to improve their packaging. Not only this, but consumers have to choose products responsibly. In addition to this, it’s important that consumers are holding the pulp and paper industry accountable for their actions. For example, if the products are placed in the wrong sized boxes causing unnecessary waste, then the consumers must call them out on it. 

The David Attenborough Effect

In recent years, the UK watched David Attenborough nature documentaries about the impact of plastic on the oceans and other ways humans are damaging the environment.

The newly named ‘David Attenborough Effect’ describes the impact these documentaries had on the public. It opened eyes to the issues. Therefore, they’re more likely to hold companies accountable, and the pulp and paper industry will experience more pressure on them to step to the circular economy challenge. 

Uniform collections

One of the challenges that the UK faces when trying to recycle packaging is the vastly different council recycling solutions.

Unfortunately, each council in the UK recycles differently. This means there is a vast amount of confusion when it comes to packaging. If we are to meet our recycling targets set by the UK Government, and achieve a circular economy, the UK will need to set up a uniform collection system. 

This will mean that all residents have the same number of bins and rules for using them. In addition, the rubbish will get recycled in the same way. Therefore, multiple recycling plants across the UK can help with increased loads or excess waste if there happens to be a spike in waste in a neighbouring council. However, this is still something the UK needs to campaign for. 

Circular economy packaging

Circular economy compliant packaging is entering the pulp and paper industry. This will mean that companies will have to be on top of creating reusable and recyclable packaging as well as right-sized packaging solutions. 

Your business can help to make sure your packaging fits into a circular economy by choosing sustainable solutions that your customers will love. The first step can be towards eliminating plastic from your packaging and only using recyclable, reusable products such as paper and cardboard. Ensuring your packaging fits into a circular economy can not only help the environment but can be a key selling point of your brand as more and more customers look for sustainable plastic-free brands. 

What Is A Linear Economy? Why Are We Moving Away From It?

The linear economy is straight-line thinking. It’s the idea of making a box, using it, and then sending it to landfill. It is one straight process from beginning to end.

Conversely, a circular economy is one where it’s not a start-to-finish process but is a continuous cycle. Instead of your box going to landfill, companies recycle it into something else – like another box! Then it’s used again. So why are we moving away from the linear economy and towards a circular economy

To move away from landfill 

It doesn’t take an environmental scientist to understand why burying our rubbish just buries our problems. Waste buried in landfill can sit there for years. All the oxygen escapes as it’s compacted over time. As a consequence, the microbes that remain are anaerobic. They release methane. Methane is one of the most potent greenhouse gases. It contributes to the unnatural warming of our planet. Therefore, if we don’t stop burying our rubbish and start making something useful out of it – we’ll only contribute further to the climate crisis!

To save money

You can save money by reusing old materials rather than manufacturing new ones. For example, you can take a box and process it into a brand new box. This reduced or completely irradicates the need for landfill. In addition to this, you don’t need to have new materials. This reduces pressure on the land to grow trees for cardboard. 

You can also use waste to create energy instead of landfilling. Because we will always have waste – it’s basically renewable! For example, burning non-biodegradable waste can heat water to produce steam that can turn a turbine — turning the turbine results in the generation of power. This saves money on energy and landfill.

There is a standard to set

By adopting the circular economy approach, it sets the example for the rest of the world. The UK should work out a reliable and sustainable approach to manufacturing goods. Then this can be the template to follow anywhere else. After all, the environment does not adhere to human boundaries – it’s all connected! We need the world to pull together.

It doesn’t cover every stage 

A bonus of the circular economy over the linear one is that it improves every stage of the process. It considers the implications of travel, packaging, and other qualities that are inefficient. 

Packaging can be a great example of this. By using clever packaging, recycling is made so much easier. It only uses the necessary resources, and it reduces the cost of transporting goods. Smart packaging that reduces the amount of empty space inside makes delivering items more efficient. Wasted space is a waste of fuel. Therefore, getting the right sized packaging is important. Thinking about these elements help the circular economy knit together.

It’s not sustainable

The definition of sustainable development is ‘meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability for the future to meet their needs.’ By making products only to bury them in the ground, it’s a huge waste of resources. Considering that most resources used to manufacture goods come from a finite resource, we cannot go on using the linear economy. 

For example, plastic is made from oil. We are using oil at a phenomenal rate. It’s likely that we only have around 50 years of oil production left until we run out. Oil is formed from the decaying bodies of animals being compressed over 100’s of millions of years. Definitely not something we can wait for!

In addition to this, on the grand scheme of things, England is relatively small. We’re not going to have the room for new rubbish tips. Therefore, it’s not sustainable to keep doing so. Not only this, but when you fill up an area with rubbish, you cannot build on top. It likely to compact over time and the dip which is not stable. And I’m sure you’d agree you’d prefer not to live on top of a rubbish tip!

It’s time to improve the efficiency and move away from the linear economy

We need to start considering each stage of the production of our goods. When we start to see where there are significant inefficiencies and waste, we will see an increase in productivity. Not only this, but it will boost the investment in technology that will perform these changes. This also links to the increase in the number of jobs in the industry. The more brains involved in solving the global issue, the closer we’re likely to get to a fully circular economy. 

Do you still have questions about how packaging can be part of your circular economy? Contact us today for more information.

10 UK Companies Ditching Plastic From Their Packaging

In recent months, the plastic crisis has gained some well-needed traction and more and more companies, and individuals are beginning to understand the importance of ditching plastic for more sustainable materials.

BBC’s Blue Planet has a lot to answer for, with the recent shift in attitude, as it provided the nation with shocking evidence of the damage that plastic has on the environment and the creatures that inhabit it.

With plastic making up 85% of beach litter across the globe, and Britons using 7.7 billion single-use plastic bottles every year, it is no surprise that it is causing havoc on planet earth.

If individuals and brands don’t start ditching plastic soon, then there will be more plastic in the ocean, by weight, than there are fish by 2050.

Here we look at 10 UK companies that are already ditching plastic from their packaging:

10 Companies Ditching Plastic

  • McDonald’s

One of the biggest fast-food chains not just in the UK but in the world, McDonald’s started making tracks to ditching plastic packaging in May this year when they switched to paper straws. As well as making their straws 100% recyclable they have also made the change that customers must request straws instead of giving them out to everyone with their orders, resulting in a considerable drop in consumption.

  • Aldi

The much-loved discount supermarket is making significant changes to their packaging in the UK in their bid for ditching the plastic and becoming more environmentally friendly. They are in the process of introducing recyclable trays for selected fresh produce, which is estimated to save 265 tonnes of packaging in just one year. In addition to ditching plastic, Aldi is also trying to use more recycled plastic in their packaging that can’t be abolished altogether.

  • Iceland

Another supermarket favourite, Iceland has committed to ditching plastic completely within the next five years. The retailer will be replacing plastic packaging with paper and pulp alternatives, which will be 100% recyclable and can be recycled through domestic waste collections as well as in-store recycling facilities.

  • Nestle Waters UK

Bottled water and soft drink manufacturer, Nestle Waters UK, has teamed up with many other brands in the industry including Lucozade Ribena Suntory and Harrogate Water Brands to eliminate plastic packaging waste. They have produced a report alongside the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL) revealing a roadmap to ditching plastic by 2025.

  • Pizza Express

Thanks to 5-year-old pizza lover Ava, Pizza Express is also ditching plastic straws in a bid to help animal welfare and the environment. The young girl wrote a letter to the chain explaining her concerns about using plastic straws as ‘they are very bad for animals’, encouraging the restaurant brand to switch to a paper alternative.

  • Marks & Spencer

The clothing and food brand recently joined over 40 other companies in signing a pledge agreeing to ditch the plastic and cut plastic pollution in the next seven years. They will make changes such as ditching plastic packaging that is deemed unnecessary such as for packs of fresh fruit and vegetables.

The UK Plastics Pact covers roughly 80% of all plastic packaging on Britain’s supermarket shelves and includes initiatives such as allowing consumers to bring their own containers to supermarket meat counters.

 

Ditching Plastic download

 

  • Costa

As well as ditching plastic straws for biodegradable alternatives, coffee giant Costa has stated that they intend to review their takeaway coffee cups to find a more environmentally friendly solution. 2.5 billion disposable cups are thrown away every year in the UK, and just 1% of these are currently recycled, so any reduction in this area would be a great help to the environment.

  • Pret a Manger

The global sandwich and coffee franchise has been making big changes to help reduce their plastic footprint in recent months. As well as ditching plastic straws for paper alternatives, they also offer customers a 50p discount in the UK if they bring their own reusable coffee cup in a bid to reduce consumption of takeaway cups.

  • Bacardi

Bacardi created their award-winning ‘Good Spirited’ campaign which was designed to reduce the company’s environmental impact in sourcing, packaging and operations. They began by ditching plastic straws in the UK back in 2016, making them one of the first big brands to jump on the banning plastic straws bandwagon.

  • Hilton

The hotel giant has a significant presence in the UK and has committed to removing over 5 million plastic straws and 20 million plastic water bottles every year across Europe, the Middle East and Africa, a move that will cut Hilton’s global environmental impact in half by 2030.

How Much Paper Comes From One Tree?

Many businesses try to achieve the goal of a paperless office.

However, this is usually because of the mess and confusion that paper documents create, rather than the fact they are striving to reduce the impact on the environment. However, by using less paper, we can help to save the number of trees from being felled, but just how much paper comes from one tree? How many trees can we save by limiting our paper usage?

Can we accurately work out how much paper comes from one tree?

Paper manufacturing uses a mix of different tree types.

While the majority of paper is made from pine trees, often other trees are used to create the pulp that will then become a sheet of paper. As well as the different types of trees used, another consideration is the fact that trees will always vary in the size and shape. Some trees will be tall with thin trunks while others may be shorter and wider. Of course, trees will always vary depending on their age, environment and type of tree.

How much paper comes from one tree, on average?

It is estimated that a standard pine tree, with 45ft of the usable trunk and a diameter of eight inches, will produce around 10,000 sheets of paper. To consider this in another way, one ream of paper (which is 500 sheets) will use 5% of a tree. Using only 5% of a tree for a ream of paper may seem like a small amount, but when you consider the number of boxes of paper that offices use on a regular basis it quickly added up.

In fact, on average, an office will use the equivalent of one tree every year, even in offices that limit their paper usage and strive for a paperless office.

Another consideration is that coated paper that is used for high-quality printing and magazines will require more pulp. In fact, one tone of coated magazine paper uses over 15 trees. For paper used for newspapers, it takes around 12 trees to create one tonne of newspaper. When you consider how many magazines and newspapers are printed and distributed across the world, it is difficult to visualise the number of trees being used.

Considerations for calculations

As well as estimating the typical size and type of tree used for paper creation, there are other considerations that can impact the calculations. These include the quality of paper, with a variety of thicknesses and quality, the amount of wood pulp required to make a tree increases. Other aspects to consider is whether the paper uses recycled material within the pulp and what percentage the recycled material is.

How many trees are felled for paper?

In the last 40 years, paper usage has grown 400%. This means that over two million trees are felled every day for global paper consumption, meaning four billion trees are cut every year to serve our paper needs. When you consider this, it makes you question whether that document is really worth printing.

Reduce Your Environment Impact With Responsible Packaging

For every business, responsible packaging should be a goal and a priority. Consumers are now not only looking for quality packaging that suitably protects their products but is also eco-conscious too. For marketers, logistics and finance departments, choosing the right packaging must appeal to all departments internally as well satisfying customers too.

Packaging is an often overlooked by commercial businesses however it is a valuable branding tool. It not only ensures your product is attractively displayed and safely secured, but it also explains your brand message to the consumer; this means you can showcase your environmentally friendly credentials with eco-friendly packaging.

What is responsible packaging?

Responsive packaging is mainly aimed at saving the planet and being environmentally friendly; this could be from reuse and recycling to being made from recycled products or eco-friendly products. However, the responsible packaging does not just have to focus on its green credentials; it can also be innovative and social too.

Packaging designs should appeal, whether it is from its eco-friendly materials, its stylish or useful design or the secondary uses for customers after it has fulfilled its primary job of protecting products.

Ultimately, the primary aim of responsible packaging is to lower your carbon footprint.

Follow the three critical areas;

  1. Reduce

  2. Reuse

  3. Recycle.

With this, you not only reduce your environmental impact, but it can also help to save on cost too.

How to adopt responsible packaging

  1. Determine your key packaging requirements

Before you can find the right sustainable packaging that will lessen your environmental impact, you must first establish what makes good packaging for you and your needs. Packaging can have many uses and benefits, from extending shelf life to protecting fragile items to making transportation more manageable, to be able to post the product easily.

Before determining the most environmentally friendly packaging, you need to know what your goals for the packaging are.

  1. Reduce

The first way to lessen the environmental impact of your packaging is by looking at unnecessary packaging within the process. Does any part of the packaging not fulfil a purpose?

If any aspect of the packaging does not meet a requirement, whether it is protecting the product, increasing shelf life or providing the customer with information, then it may be worthwhile removing this step in the packaging process.

Consider the value each part of the packaging has, if it appears to have none, it is wasting money from your business. Once you have removed irrelevant elements, it is time to consider how else you can reduce the packaging. Typically, this will be through the size and shape of the packaging. By making it lighter and smaller, you can significantly reduce the energy costs during transportation.

  1. Reuse

Reuse can span many different areas in terms of packaging. You can reuse within your from the packaging given by your suppliers or from packaging returns if you have a reverse logistics system set up to receive packaging items once the customer has received the product.

Reuse can also occur after your product has been shipped by the potential reuse of your packaging for your customers. More and more businesses are becoming increasingly inventive with their reuse methods, changing from recyclable bags to creating seed pots for compostable planting. Some food packaging is now edible, so there is no wastage from the packaging.

  1. Recycle

One of the fundamental areas of environmentally friendly packaging is its recyclability. Customers are now more environmentally aware and will look for methods to be green, particularly when it comes to product packaging.

When choosing packaging products, businesses should now focus on whether it can be recycled and if so the measures people will need to go to in order to recycle. Packaging may have to be labelled as to which parts are recyclable and which are not, and to show your eco-friendly mission, should be relatively easy to recycle to encourage all of your consumers to go green.

Go green with Ribble

As an environmentally friendly packaging company – Ribble can help to lessen your environmental impact with 100% recycled packaging products which can then be recycled by your customers. Our continuous recycling cycle is a great way to reduce the damage to the environment and showcase your business as one that cares about their carbon footprint.

Not only do Ribble just use recycled cardboard for their recyclable packaging but they can help you to reduce your packaging amounts too. Box on Demand creates boxes to suit the exact shape and size of your product. This means there is less packaging waste, lower energy costs in transportation and a smaller amount of packaging to be used.

Top 9 Environmental Packaging Products Saving The Planet

Nowadays, a good product is no longer enough to satisfy the ever-demanding consumer. Customers are much more aware of the whole package, and many have an eco-friendly conscience. With this in mind, more and more commercial businesses are looking at ways they can include their green credentials into their products. One of the best ways to showcase environmental responsibility and awareness is through innovative environmental packaging.

Throughout the retail world, organisations are looking at the best eco-friendly packaging products to suit their needs. Here are nine of the best eco-friendly packaging products that your business should consider.

What is environmental packaging?

Environmental packaging is designed to be eco-conscious. It uses products and materials that can be easily recycled and is safe for both the environment and people. Ideally, green packaging will use both renewable and recycled material.

Nine top environmental packaging products

  1. Popcorn

Popcorn is the ideal packaging for protecting fragile items. It protects products in a comparable way to foam nuggets or polystyrene chips. However, it is much lighter, saving energy during transport. Also, popcorn is entirely biodegradable, customers can simply put the popcorn into their compost bins, and it will degrade and become compost for their plants next year.

With popcorn, you can include another environmentally friendly packaging product, such as recycled cardboard for a full solution that completely eliminates the need for harmful, plastic packaging.

  1. Bamboo

Bamboo grows particularly fast and has strong fibrous properties making it the ideal green material for packaging. Naturally, bamboo can have a use in a range of products from socks to baby wipes. However, the waste bamboo that can’t be transformed into a product can be turned into a pulp which can then be moulded into the packaging.

Bamboo packaging is wholly natural and requires no toxins in its production making it safe to produce and throw away after use. What’s more, bamboo packaging has been shown to be ideal for food packaging as it is safe to be used in microwaves, ovens and freezers. Even better, throughout this, it still maintains its strength and durability and can be used again and again.

  1. Biodegradable carrier bags

Using flax fibres from industrial waste can be used to create non-woven carrier bags that naturally biodegrade after a specified period of time. Not only do these bags utilise waste products but they also do not require expensive recycling processes or need to be added to ever-growing landfills.

These bags are ideal for retailers who want their customers to join with the eco-friendly revolution. The can also help to differentiate their business away from typical retailers who use wasteful and damaging thick plastic bags. Biodegradable flax bags are a great way of being noticed for your ethical principles.

  1. Sea plastic

Incredibly, we can save the planet with packaging. Companies are now retrieving the plastic waste from the oceans to create brand new packaging. The plastic that is collected from the sea can then be combined with durable sugar cane for strength to help make strong new packaging.

Not only does this packaging help to reduce the amount of plastic being produced, but it also is an excellent incentive for fishers and those at sea to capture the plastic and clean up our oceans o help protect the wildlife and keep the waters clean.

  1. Biodegradable custom moulds

Fragile products often require excessive packaging to help to keep them in position during transportation. Usually, this packaging is costly due to its custom design and uses a high quantity of packaging material to keep it safe.

Now you can find customised moulded packaging that is completely natural and biobased which, with the addition of a natural thickening agent, grows around your product to cradle it into position carefully. These custom moulds can then be reused or your customers can add the packaging to the compost bin as it is entirely biodegradable.

  1. Air

Air is a lightweight, protective packaging that can be used for all manner of products. Inflatable air packaging can be used for electronics, pharmaceutical products and even glass bottles. Air cushioning fully protects products with its shock absorbing characteristics as well as being customised for the right shape and size.

Air packaging is also lightweight, cutting down energy costs required for transport. What’s more, air packaging needs less space than other packaging methods so you can cut your transport costs too.

  1. Disappearing envpackaging

There is a growing trend for eco-friendly packaging material that creates no wastage and is utterly convenient for consumers as it completely vanishes. You can now find environmentally friendly packaging that produces absolutely no waste and doesn’t even require any recycling.

Packaging products are made from tree pulp, and bioproducts such as starch and corn can then be manufactured so that they disintegrate in water. The non-toxic residue can be safely washed down the drain which is entirely harmless in water. Many products can utilise dissolvable packaging from the food industry to electronics.

  1. No-packaging packaging

For every retailer, where possible, they should be looking to eliminate packaging altogether. For many products, it is surprisingly easy to get rid of packaging. For example, food outlets can ask customers to bring in their own reusable containers and rolls of bin bags can be stored in the last bag of the pack. Grocery companies are also waking up to the fact that packaging is no longer required.

Zero-waste packaging may soon be the thing of the future. Many products may have an original packaging element to them, which just needs creative tweaking to keep it safe from damage and present it as a quality product.

  1. Recycled cardboard environmental packaging

For bulk packaging and items of all shapes and sizes, cardboard may still be the answer. However, cardboard can still be environmentally friendly, providing you choose cardboard from sustainable sources. At Ribble Packaging, all of our cardboard packaging solutions are made from 100% recycled packaging, which is then encouraged to be recycled again.

Despite being recycled, the cardboard is still versatile and durable which makes it ideal for a range of packaging solutions. Ribble Packaging provides all manner of recycled cardboard solutions from bespoke designs to on-demand corrugated card machinery.

By utilising recycled products, we can convert the recycled goods into new packaging and save the planet every single day as the cycle continues.

Green Packaging Solutions: What Is Fanfold?

For businesses looking for cost-effective and green packaging solutions, then fanfold should be a serious consideration. Fanfold is effectively a long sheet of corrugated cardboard that can be used to protect and package a variety of products. The fanfold aspect comes into play as the long piece of corrugated cardboard is scored at regular intervals so that it can be folded neatly and compactly, like a fan.

Fanfold packaging seems simple enough, but it comes with many benefits for your business.

Fanfold, a green packaging solution:

Firstly, the fanfold packaging is a green solution for your business. Every business should focus on reducing waste, for their own cost-efficiency as well as helping to lessen the impact on the environment. If you’re looking for an eco-conscious solution for your packaging needed, then fanfold, coupled with a Box on Demand machine, is an excellent way for your company to go green.

Other benefits of fanfold packaging

  • Reduce your packaging inventory

Why have multiple packaging products when you can have one?  Regardless of your products and their various shapes and sizes, just using a Box on Demand system with fanfold corrugated cardboard can suit a range of packaging requirements and reduce your packaging stock to only one product thanks to its flexibility and versatility.

Green benefit: by swapping your packaging to fanfold only, you can stop using harmful plastic packaging and switch to an entirely recyclable packaging option.

  • Safe transit

Corrugated cardboard offers an excellent level of protection for goods while they are in transit. By using fanfold packaging, you have a supply of cardboard that you can score to size to ensure every product is well protected. With fanfold packaging, you reduce the need for extra filling materials, therefore saving on cost, but you still provide an exceptional level of protection. What’s more, fanfold packaging can be customised for your bespoke needs.

Green benefit: having customised packaging ensures you receive maximum efficiency, reducing the waste your business creates.

  • Simplified administration

With only one product for your packaging needs, you instantly simplify the administration process for your packaging department. Fanfold packaging means you have just one product to stock take and only one product to order. If you choose bespoke fanfold packaging, you also streamline the whole packaging process, making it much quicker to parcel goods and get them into transit.

Green benefit: Using customised fanfold green packaging solutions means each product is packaged to suit its size. By using tailored packaging, you reduce wasted space meaning you can fit more items in transit through space utilisation, reducing the transportation needs and lessening the effects on the environment.

Discover the uses of green packaging solutions

With tailored widths, shapes and scoring, fanfold packaging can be utilised for a range of different packaging needs when used with the right equipment. As well as this, it can be an excellent surface for high-quality print to ensure your high-quality packaging is printed to allow your brand to shine. The practicality of fanfold packaging meets its green credentials with a wide variety of scoring options as well as being able to score on site your own needs.

Ultimately, fanfold packaging ensures a high-quality product, cost-efficient packaging with green benefits that give your business an eco-friendly boost.

Is Plastic Packaging Destroying Our Environment?

Plastic, a material that has now caused worldwide controversy after a global spread of pollution across our oceans; all thanks to its poor bio-degradable properties, human misuse and overall promotion of irresponsible environmental initiatives. Plastic packaging is causing issues for the environment.

Plastics that contain virgin resins, are a cheap alternative produced from petroleum or natural gas into small pellets known as ‘nodules’. The manufacture of these pellets alone is contributing to the depletion of natural resources, consuming 4% of the world’s oil supply. Although, it should be identified that plastic materials can be energy efficient, as it takes less energy during its manufacture then its rival glass material, including low transportation costs due to being lightweight and results in 40% less fuel for transportation.

Is there a more sustainable solution to plastic packaging?

It is without doubt plastics are a ‘wonder material’ they are adaptable and durable for most products, which has accelerated their production, but is there a more sustainable solution?

Over the last 65 years or so scientists have predicted 8.3 billion tonnes have been produced, with approximately 70% of this production present in our current waste streams – mostly sent to landfill.

Half of this material has been made within the last 13 years and current trends point to 12 billion tonnes of plastic waste by 2050. Waste deposited in landfill can reach harmful chemical levels, that spread into groundwater resources and contribute to contamination of the natural environment. When plastic products enter a water source whole, it can float around almost forever and endanger marine life.

It has been identified that most commonly used plastics are not biodegradable, providing few alternatives for disposal, following a decomposition process known as either pyrolysis or incineration through a thermal recovery facility. Although, the latter is further complicated by health and air quality concerns. Many animal studies suggest a developing link between exposure to chemicals and negative health outcomes, with findings of ‘micro-plastics’ in the bodies of marine life which demonstrates the reality of our environment.

Packaging is a short-use product that has poor recycling statistics, with only an estimated 9% of disregarded plastic being disposed of environmentally.

With raw material prices increasing, it is becoming more financially viable to recycle polymers. Including investment into innovative engineering and biological initiatives to create a more sustainable solution.

What is the solution to improving plastic packaging?

One solution is to treat plastic as a reusable material rather than a disposable commodity that can be carelessly discarded. Efforts towards increasing recycling facilities for this material and providing treatment to ensure it is suitable for its next process. Creating a sustainable culture through knowledge is highly advantageous and would increase recycling efforts for all our materials to ensure we reducing pollution rates.

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