Eco-consumer rates are increasing globally. High-emission companies are going out of business as sustainable customers influence the market. Retailers can remain competitive in the industry by minimizing their packaging waste.
New government regulations also increase the demand for industrial pollution reduction efforts. Retailers can reduce atmospheric and surface-level pollution by using sustainable packaging materials.
Environmental Challenges With Packaging
A significant quantity of retail packaging derives from plastic. Conventional material manufacturing practices produce carbon dioxide emissions. Plastic production in 2019 created nearly 850 million metric tons of greenhouse gas pollution.
When emissions reach the atmosphere, they change its composition, limiting its temperature regulation abilities. As greenhouse gases accumulate in the environment, they raise Earth’s temperature, producing a ripple effect of degradation. Inadequate waste management techniques also create surface-level pollution.
If plastic packages end up in landfills, they may degrade into minuscule pieces. These microplastics can travel to the ocean via stormwater runoff. When aquatic species ingest the beads, they experience adverse health effects, causing endangerment.
Some packaging materials also contain perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). As the chemicals contaminate the environment, they cause adverse health effects in humans and other species. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) plans on banning some PFASs next spring and labeling them as hazardous substances.
Retail companies can abide by government regulations and reduce ecological degradation by investing in sustainable packaging. There are five types of green containers manufacturers can utilize, shrinking their carbon footprints.
1. Fiber-Based Packaging
As an example, one oil manufacturing company shifted to distributing its products in recyclable glass bottles. It valued the influences recycled glass has on the sustainable circular economy. The business began receiving complaints about damaged and leaking products deriving from damaged glass containers.
The company began using fiber interior packaging, increasing the security and sustainability of shipped items. Manufacturers develop the fibers from molded pulp, making them 100% biodegradable and recyclable. It fits around the top and base of oil containers, preventing pressure-related damage.
2. Sustainable Paper Containers
Target also increased its green packaging goals for 2022 using sustainably sourced paper. The company uses paper to produce bags and cardboard boxes. They plan on efficiently managing their material vendors, ensuring they source their paper from consciously maintained forests.
3. Eco-Friendly Package Labels
Other retailers like Sephora and Rite-Aid plan on increasing their packages’ sustainability by enhancing transparency. Companies will use “Proud Planet,” “Free From,” and “Clean Beauty” labels, helping consumers make conscious decisions. The new container labels may push other manufacturers to increase their environmental conservation practices.
4. Biodegradable Bags and Packing Peanuts
Many companies are reducing container waste using natural biodegradable polymers. The packaging material derives from agricultural sources and biomass. Some products come from plant proteins, making them 100% biodegradable.
Manufacturers are using the material to create sustainable bags and packing peanuts. In the agricultural production process, they can also increase the material’s sustainability by using sustainable internet of things (IoT) technology. When using the technology, farmers can develop vegetation for biodegradable packages while minimizing resource exploitation.
5. Seaweed Packaging
A new sustainable packaging material available to retailers comes from seaweed. The containers are biodegradable and edible, eliminating landfill pollution and microplastic waste. Seaweed is an abundant, renewable resource.
Using aquatic vegetation to manufacture packages can reduce society’s reliance on oil. It also supports a closed-loop, circular economy. When companies use consciously produced containers, they can significantly shrink their carbon footprints.
Adopting Green Materials
Retailers can confidently invest in sustainable packaging materials knowing Generation Z and Millennial consumers are willing to pay more for consciously produced products. If companies use renewable energy while manufacturing green containers, they are also eligible for a tax credit, helping them save money over time. Manufacturers may also experience a positive return on their investments (ROI) by meeting consumer demands and abiding by government regulations.
Credit: Devin Partida is a retail writer and blogger. You can read more posts from Devin at ReHack.com, where she is the Editor-in-Chief.