How to design sustainable product packaging and save money


Molly Brogie is a content marketing reporter at To respond. She has a passion for innovation and is committed to providing readers with informative and engaging material. Molly is a self-proclaimed junkie who adores Shakespeare.

Packaging for sustainable products is quickly becoming one of the most important – and difficult – aspects of the food industry. Consumers are placing more and more importance on the sustainability of the products they buy. To be successful, companies must get ahead of this trend and develop plans for sustainable packaging.

What is sustainable packaging?

The Sustainable Packaging Coalition defines sustainable packaging as packaging that:

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  1. Is beneficial, safe and healthy for individuals and communities throughout its life cycle.

  2. Meets market criteria in terms of performance and cost.

  3. Is sourced, manufactured, transported and recycled using renewable energies.

  4. Optimizes the use of renewable or recycled raw materials.

  5. Is manufactured using clean production technologies and best practices.

  6. Is made from healthy materials throughout the life cycle.

  7. Is physically designed to optimize materials and energy.

  8. Is efficiently recovered and used in closed loop biological and / or industrial cycles.

The Sustainable Packaging Coalition also offers eight metric frames to assess how well a given packet meets this definition. These requirements are broad and make it difficult to design sustainable packaging. However, passing some of these requirements can dramatically improve the durability of product packaging. Focusing on good scoring in certain metrics is a more achievable approach to sustainable packaging design.

Why adopt sustainable product packaging?

To save money

Eco-friendly packaging is a powerful way for small food businesses to save money. The use of locally sourced materials and smaller volumes of packaging material reduces shipping distances and the weight of shipments, which significantly reduces the money spent on transporting materials.

“Transportation is so closely linked to energy that when you manage logistics well, you manage costs as well,” says Anne Johnson, director of the Sustainable Packaging Coalition. The link between sustainability and transportation is undeniable, and recognizing it can have a huge impact on spending. Additionally, recycled materials often cost significantly less than their newer counterparts.

Grow your business

Using sustainable product packaging will also help you maintain and expand your customer base. Consumers are increasingly demanding products that respect the environment. Meeting this demand with sustainable packaging is a simple way to maintain the existing support for consumers.

Additionally, new customers will be more likely to choose an environmentally friendly product over a less sustainable option. Eighty-four percent of global consumers say they seek responsible products whenever possible, according to a 2015 Cone Communications / Ebiquity Global CSR study.

More generally, up to 77% say they take sustainable development into account when shopping at the supermarket. With this in mind, designing sustainable packaging will attract new customers to a product and increase sales.

How to create a sustainable product packaging design

The definition of sustainable packaging is broad, so there are many ways to do it. product packaging sustainable. Here are some of the basics:

Choose a lifecycle tool

Different systems exist to assess the durability of materials. SPC produces the COMPASS (Comparative Packaging Assessment) online design software, which provides guidance on environmental standards. EarthSmart produces PackageSmart LCA software, which helps designers visualize the environmental impact of packaging designs.

Know where the packaging materials come from

Using locally produced materials not only helps support local economies, but can also save food companies money on shipping and storage. Rather than paying for massive orders to be shipped from overseas or driven across the country, companies that use locally sourced packaging materials can place smaller orders as needed and have them delivered at cost. much more reasonable.

Even though, after these savings, the locally sourced option is still more expensive than an imported option, research suggests that consumers might view higher prices as a valid compromise. Seventy-eight percent of consumers surveyed said they would be willing to pay more for the products if they knew its packaging came from the region, according to a study by packaging manufacturer Sharpak.

Design for reuse

Companies like Kentucky Fried Chicken, Pizza Hut, and Coca-Cola all create packaging that consumers can recycle or recycle.

KFC replaced disposable coffee mugs with edible mugs in 2015. Made from cookies, chocolate and sugar paper, the “scoff-ee mug” could withstand the heat of an espresso and then disappear like a satisfying dessert, eliminating the waste of thousands of paper and foam cups.

While the Scoff-ee mug never seemed to get past the pilot stage in KFC’s UK restaurants, experience has nonetheless shown large food companies that a shift to sustainability can do more than prevent waste. It has the potential to become a centerpiece of their branding.

Consider using post-consumer or alternative materials

Post-consumer plastics are inexpensive, sustainably produced, and recyclable. Many traditional packaging materials can be made from sustainable alternatives. There are several sustainable alternatives to petroleum-based plastic:

  • Polylactic Acid (PLA) packaging is biodegradable, non-toxic and made from plants. PLA packaging is generally thin and fragile and it is best to use it as the packaging or outer layer. Although PLA deforms under heat or humidity, companies like Plastic ingenuity are developing more durable versions that can withstand temperatures above 110 degrees Fahrenheit.

  • Bioplastics are plastics that are partially made from renewable raw materials such as corn, potatoes, rice and wheat fibers. Bioplastics are stronger and more durable than PLA packaging and can be used to produce containers and bottles. Unlike PLA, bioplastics are not always biodegradable.

  • Polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) polyesters are biodegradable plastics produced by bacterial fermentation. PHA plastics act almost the same as petroleum-based plastics, although they are slightly more brittle.

  • Milk protein plastics are made from casein. This plastic is a thin film that is best suited for airtight packaging and the removal of oxygen from food products.

To make cardboard packaging more durable, there are also different options:

  • Post-consumer recycled fibers create corrugated cardboard that is just as strong and durable as pre-consumer cardboard.

  • Bamboo packaging is biodegradable and certified compostable. It is as strong as cardboard and slightly more water resistant. It can be used for boxes or as a protective wrap around fragile products.

  • ProGreen is a recyclable alternative for cartons of products coated with wax. It is water resistant, durable and completely plump.

  • Notbox is an alternative to the reusable, lightweight and durable cardboard box. The scoring boxes can each be used for up to three years and can withstand 35 kilograms of compression.

Pick a few of these avenues to focus on and you’ll soon be reaping the benefits of sustainable product packaging. The planet will thank you, and your sales too.



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