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Earth Day is a great occasion to review the changes in the landscape of the packaging industry.
The conversation concerning the worldwide pollution seems to be endless, doesn't it?
There is good news though. Some time ago, we have covered the problem of the plastic bags in our article. Polluting the environment with plastic packaging has been the reality for many years, but 2018 has already brought significant changes. Before we discuss them and the future of the industry, we should first answer this question:
What is sustainability?
Sustainability could be defined as a sum of actions that refer to three pillars: economic development, social development and environmental protection.
The last pillar includes the concept of sustainable packaging. In general, sustainable packaging aims at developing more eco-friendly solutions. These include:
- Companies around the world cooperating with design studios to bring a new meaning to their packaging
- Reducing the use of plastic or using recycled materials in plastic packaging
- Offering innovative solutions like refill stations
Here's a video showing the philosophy of sustainability in Coca-Cola.
The big companies have taken a step
The beginning of the year was marked by huge announcements. McDonald's has tweeted that by 2025, the company will be using only a 100% recyclable packaging. The media has picked the topic in a blink of an eye.
McDonald's was not the only company, which decided to switch to better packaging solutions. Iceland and - most recently - Nestle joined too. Additionally, the EU has taken an active stand and announced that all plastic packaging must be fully recyclable by 2030 as a new pro-environment strategy.
What does it actually mean for each of these companies?
On one hand, it's a logistics headache.
Changing the packaging design is a big decision, influencing many levels of the distribution channel. Even for a small company, the transition to sustainable packaging solutions is time-consuming. It requires research and knowledge, as well as the logistics chain to adapt.
We should, however, focus on the perks, because they are both extremely meaningful and important. The big companies need to set an example for others to join. And they do so. Nestle, Iceland, McDonald's, Coca Cola - these are the brands, which are becoming ardent advocates of sustainability. Setting such an example will be an educational factor for smaller players.
In the end, their global scope is also a responsibility.
It's important from the marketing point of view too. Customers are becoming increasingly aware of the environment. It will be the natural consequence that producers will be expected to show their care for the environment. The excessive packaging will no longer be just a topic for an article from Buzzfeed, but rather a serious business-killer.
Small companies can reduce the negative footprint too
There are many ways in which small companies can help reduce the pollution.
There are packaging variants, which are designed to fulfill even very rigid budgetary constraints. One of such eco-solutions is cardboard. Most of the cardboard boxes are made from recycled materials. Re-using them leads to a significant change in thinking about packaging.
Furthermore, small companies should aim at showing care for the local environment. Whilst worldwide players should set the trends globally, local business owners can make a change in their own environment. One of such ways is to encourage your customers to send the used boxes back to the company and organize a chain for recycling.
Customers can help as well
The easiest way is to segregate trash, but there is plenty more:
- Use upcycling. Upcycling is a way of re-using and adjusting certain packaging for a new use. Consider cardboard as an additional storage space. As a material, cardboard is solid and durable and it can be used many times before it wears off.
- Pay attention to company's footprint. There are more companies nowadays, which pay attention to being eco-friendly.
- Voice your concern. Even though the global debate concerning sustainability and the environment is gaining significance, there is still much to do. Some of the customers post the photos of unnecessary packaging on social media, which brings attention.
Thinking about sustainability takes place everywhere.
It's not only up to the big names, corporations or governments. Choose packaging, which will be an environmentally friendly solution. If you are a business owner, consider switching from plastic to solutions like paper bags or cardboard boxes. These products - even with printing options - are eco-friendly. Let's make a change together!