As awareness of wide-scale packaging waste rises, so too does demand for sustainable alternatives. Today, consumers and businesses seek new ways to reduce packaging waste, and in so doing, make it easier for businesses to transition to eco-friendly materials.
The goals of sustainable packaging design are to conserve resources, reduce material waste, and cut down on pollution. Let’s explore the key design principles involved, and how the future of sustainable packaging gives businesses an essential role in resolving various economic and environmental challenges.
Environmental Impact of Sustainable Packaging
Traditional packaging has steadily contributed to growing levels of waste and pollution, amounting to millions of tons of excess landfill and ocean waste. Wasteful packaging also drives needlessly large energy expenditures while accelerating resource depletion.
To slow and reverse these trends, sustainable packaging manufacturers rely on non-toxic materials and less energy-intensive production methods. They’re also designing package materials to quickly and harmlessly biodegrade or retain some economic value after use.
The main challenge of sustainable packaging design is the need to mitigate the impacts of traditional packaging. Now, economic and social pressures are driving the transition to sustainable packaging design across numerous industries.
Principles of Sustainable Packaging Design
There are several guiding principles in sustainable packaging design. Primarily, designers seek to minimize material use while emphasizing renewable, ecologically-sound materials. By identifying and either reducing or eliminating toxic materials, sustainable packaging directly improves the health of people and the ecosystem.
Recyclable packaging is also important to improve sustainability, contributing to the “closed-loop” systems inherent to circular economies. This entails maximizing the value of materials throughout the production, use, and post-use stages. It also requires using the least amount of materials possible, but without compromising on protection.
The future of sustainable packaging involves reducing extraneous design elements while emphasizing more practical and functional designs. By heeding these principles, packing supply manufacturers achieve more sustainable solutions and set an example of greater environmental stewardship.
Benefits of Sustainable Packaging Design
There are three core benefits of sustainable packaging design:
- Reduced energy consumption, including factory, transportation, and other emissions
- Conservation of natural resources
- Greater biodiversity
In past years, the economic benefits of environmentally friendly packaging weren’t obvious to manufacturers and suppliers. That has changed as more cost-effective and energy-efficient fabrication methods have made it possible to maximize material usage without a loss in effectiveness.
Less packing waste also lowers manufacturing costs, and it’s become an easy and reliable way to enhance brand reputation. Companies using sustainable packaging achieve greater customer loyalty and market competitiveness, all while improving their impact on the environment.
Challenges and Considerations of Sustainable Packaging Design
Currently, the main design challenge of sustainable packaging is the need to balance competing needs in the packaging industry:
- Maximum product protection using the least amount of materials
- Design practicality and user-friendliness
- Minimal ecological footprint, even on large production runs
To balance these and other factors, many sustainable packaging manufacturers increasingly follow Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) policies.
EPR programs encourage, and in some states require, manufacturers to follow a producer responsibility or “stewardship” plan for reducing packaging waste. Member organizations can further these goals both by actively repurposing post-use materials, as with recycling, or by design, reducing waste and energy consumption to begin with.
Sustainable packaging can fulfill both of these aims by reducing the environmental impact of production methods while reducing material waste or maximizing material life cycles.
Sustainable Food Packaging from Econo-Pak
Sustainable packaging plays an increasingly important role in the safe and responsible production of consumer goods. By embracing sustainable packaging design, industry leaders can meet the growing demand for ecologically responsible alternatives to wasteful, energy-intensive forms of packaging.
The most effective sustainable food packaging can easily fulfill environmental goals without reducing the package’s effectiveness. More sustainable materials are also essential to ensure post-use materials are easier to repurpose and/or quickly break down into harmless constituent parts in the environment.
Econo-Pak is deeply invested in the future of sustainable packaging. We continually adapt our packaging designs to various sustainability standards and guidelines, so we can help companies across numerous industries more easily fulfill their shipping and product storage needs safely and responsibly. Reach out to learn more about Econo-Pak’s sustainable packaging capabilities or to request a quote from our experienced packaging experts.