Sustainable Packaging Defined

What Is Sustainability in Packaging?

First and foremost, packaging must perform in terms of containing and protecting the product, providing information to the consumer, and supporting your marketing strategy, all within an acceptable budget. After meeting the basic functional requirements of packaging, the extent to which it is sustainable depends on many elements.

What is the best, most sustainable package for your product? “It depends” is frequently the answer. It depends on the product, the consumer, your business, and your organization’s sustainability goals.

    • Are your supply chain partners committed to sustainable manufacturing and logistics?
    • What is the package’s carbon footprint across the entire supply chain?
    • What are the environmental impacts? associated with every stage in the package’s life?
    • Is the packaging safe and healthy for the workers and communities it comes in contact with?
    • Is the package designed to minimize the use of materials (light weighting; ‘ships-in-product-packaging’)?
    • Does it have recycled content?
    • Is it recyclable in the markets where the product is available?
    • Is it biodegradable or compostable?
    • Can the package be reused?

Why is Sustainable Packaging so Challenging?

Sustainability encompasses the entire life cycle of a package from its development to its disposal. Failure at any point along the way can send you back to the drawing board. And just about anything you can think of can cause a failure, from recycling issues to a design consumers don’t like.

Innovative R&D might create an easily recyclable package, but if it doesn’t conform to brand standards or survive the journey to the customer, it will be a no-go. You may have found the perfect sustainable container for your product, but then discover it can’t be produced within budget.

This is a complex process requiring expertise in product development, package design and engineering, marketing, consumer insights, and recycling. Developing a package that meets the objectives at every stage starts with turning your business questions into research questions. Asking the right questions, finding insights, and developing actionable strategies and recommendations, requires a blend of the expertise in many of the fields above.

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