Almost every business will aim to be more environmentally conscious in the coming years, but some businesses may not know where to start. When it comes to packaging, the focus is on reducing waste and using recycled materials whenever possible. There are many ways to make your business more eco-friendly, many of them involving your choices in packaging. Businesses can lessen their negative environmental impact by choosing packaging made from recycled content, and that are easily recyclable.
To be considered eco-friendly, packaging has to have a minimal impact on the environment during its life cycle. The life cycle of packaging spans from the raw materials, through consumer use, to the final end waste or recycling of the product. Ideally, packaging like paper bags, boxes, and cups would not end up in landfills very often, because these items are more easily recyclable. Many packaging items are also compostable and/or biodegradable. A lot of sustainability impact lies in the hands of consumers who have the option to send their used packaging to a recycling bin, garbage can, or compost. Also consider the environmental impact of shipping packaging products and materials. Items that can be shipped flat are more environmentally friendly in the shipping department. And many items need to be packaged with additional materials for shipping purposes.
Many packaging items can be a trade-off of sorts; some packaging is made from mostly recycled materials but cannot be easily recycled because of lamination or other additions. Some packaging is made from virgin materials, but is still easily recyclable or compostable. Some packaging items require that the handles, ribbons, or other components be removed before recycling. There is also a limit to how many times material can be recycled until it is no longer useful or functional. The materials will usually degrade in quality after being recycled, and quality is usually a large concern when it comes to retail and food service packaging. Food service packaging also has somewhat of an issue with recycling, as food waste and grease make materials unusable. This is one of the industries where it is important to source materials with a high percentage of recycled content.
The concept of sustainable packaging involves what is called ‘waste hierarchy’. This idea, incorporating the mantra “reduce, reuse, and recycle,” defines the importance of starting at the source. Packaging is most sustainable when it aims to reduce the materials used in the initial process. Even though many packaging items are recyclable, the end users usually just throw them away or recycle improperly. Therefore, when it comes to being sustainable, prevention is the number one goal. By choosing packaging that is not wasteful, and contains preferably 100% recycled materials, you are already contributing to a positive trend.
As you can see by reviewing the waste hierarchy pyramid, the source of materials is the single most important aspect of its environmental impact. By eliminating unnecessary waste, choosing recycled products and reusable products, packaging can have a large contribution to improving environmental conditions in the future.
Overall, the best options for eco-friendly packaging are items made with 100% recycled materials. Splash Packaging offers several types of bags, boxes, and food service packaging options that are made from 100% recycled materials. We also stock many options with 40-80% recycled content. Remember, the end user of your packaging products may not recycle, reuse, or compost your packaging, so it is important to source materials responsibly. Always encourage your customers to reuse and recycle packaging using your marketing tools. You can also choose to utilize reusable packaging which tends to have a much longer life span and greatly reduces packaging waste.
Splash Packaging offers many eco-friendly packaging options, many of them made with recycled materials. Check out some of our popular options:
100% recycled and food safe bakery and cupcake boxes