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29 October 2021

Green or Mean: Can the Packaging Industry Be Sustainable?

Packaging

Green or mean? The packaging industry is often cast as the villain in the war against climate change. Unfortunately, this isn’t without cause: plastics, shipping, non-recyclable components in otherwise recyclable pieces – it’s not the best reputation to have. 

However, due to a higher and ever-growing awareness among consumers of their negative impact on the environment through purchases with these companies – there is a movement of eco-friendly campaigns. Organizations and government bodies are also starting to increase pressure on various sectors to increase accountability and their own popularity. Many companies and international unions are also trying to backtrack on other controversial issues such as animal testing, exploitation of non-renewable materials and unethical manufacturing lines – due to exposure via social media and watchdog organizations.  

Fossil-based plastic production is growing – and only 9% of total plastic is recycled, so it’s not surprising that a huge effort is being put into finding green alternatives. In the UK alone, plastic accounts for 70% of annual waste, this is mainly due to the amount of plastic used in packaging. According to Wrap, ‘Flexible plastics in the UK account for 25% of consumer packaging, yet we only recycle 6%’; while the Center for International Environment Law indicates that packaging accounts for 40% of the global demand for plastics. It could feel like there was no light in this tunnel and the Great Pacific Garbage Patch will forever expand until the world is just a spinning trash can – however there is hope here and it comes in the form of consumers. Of the 74% of consumers who would prefer sustainable packaging, 10% are prepared to pay an increased cost to get it. This change in consumer demands leave companies with no choice but to alter their methods or risk losing clientele. 

Due to the extreme amount of waste generated by companies, such action is by no means overdue. Changes like no plastic packaging over already sealed goods has come into action – as well as a concerted effort to use biodegradable materials within packaging. Elements such as FSC paper, card and cardboard are being used in place of virgin plastics and hybrid options. Amazon are a good example of a corporate giant who use recyclable packaging in their shipping. While other companies, such as Wild have launched very successfully off the back of the consumer demand for reusable and recyclable products. Packaging service providers such as BPAK, now provide sustainable options such as bio resins, bamboo, glass and aluminum. This shows how the movement is being taken seriously, especially since most marketing campaigns within this sector now focus on the ethics behind the product – with a high percentage of pitches revolving around how sustainable the product is. 

Statistically, the environmental impact of their product packaging is only highly important to 43% of  US consumers. Ranking higher are: shelf life, brand and price; which is why green packaging and products need to be aesthetically pleasing as well as relatively affordable to make an impact on the market. Considering the sector, it is vital that companies understand this – if unsuccessful in either delivering sustainable options or making such options unattractive to consumers, they will not be able to deliver what is being demanded of them. Creating a cradle to cradle system will reframe the supply chain and make what is currently a ladder hierarchy into a cyclical chain which ‘closes the loop’ and minimizes waste within the industry. Organizations such as The Soil Association are working with the beauty industry to promote new ways of producing items, promoting organic alternatives and sustainable options. These organizations put public pressure on private companies – acting as a checks and balances system to make companies, sectors and governments accountable for their actions. So far, they are moving forward rather than backward with their progress.  

There have always been sustainable and ethical options such as The Body Shop – however they have never been very accessible or industrially ‘popular’ because they have gone against the status quo and challenged consumer perceptions. Due to a growing awareness among consumers, increased by influencers which creates a domino effect on consumer demand; alternative options are easier to get, easier to afford and gaining traction in the main markets. This increases the pressure on big companies to change their processes and meet different aims; therefore altering the needs of these companies when they come to companies such as BPAK for completion of services. 

BPAK is an ever-growing, international packaging and fulfilment service-provider that is always looking for ways to improve our list of options. Due to providing for top international companies we are always staying ahead of the market to make sure that we can supply what is wanted. Giving entirely sustainable primary packaging is something that is a huge landmark and a great example of how the times are changing. Our new range of cosmetic services focus on this, we are proud to be able to offer a range of ethical materials sourced from reliable suppliers and manufactured in trusted outlets. Packaging can and should be sustainable, so we are making the effort to be as ethical as possible. As well as packaging we are also working on reducing our carbon footprint with shipping and distribution – it’s the start of a positive journey towards making the packaging sector a less destructive contributor to the climate crisis. We aim to change the face of the packaging industry by giving premium, customized services with sustainable materials and ethical processes. 

 

The packaging sector is moving towards a green image. If consumer demand maintains this, there should be even more positive results seen in the coming years. Want to learn more about sustainable packaging and the materials that are out there? Keep an eye out for our Top 5 Sustainable Packaging Materials post coming out soon.