Packaging is the first impression of a business. That’s why good businesses take their packaging seriously. Many customers take the packaging as a sign of how a business values them.
But consumer opinions have gone through a paradigm shift with the changing environmental conditions. Instead of receiving a product in fancy packaging, they care more about the packaging’s environmental impact.
That’s why businesses have started focusing on using eco-friendly packaging. But what is eco-friendly packaging, and how does it impact your business? You’ll learn it all in this article.
What Is Eco-Friendly Packaging?
Eco-friendly packaging refers to sustainable or biodegradable packaging that does not harm the environment. It is made up of organic and eco-friendly materials. This type of packaging decomposes easily without disturbing the environment when it is disposed of.
Eco-friendly packaging does not take years to decompose in the environment. It does not leave carbon emissions or harmful toxic substances that damage the natural ecological system.
There are many types of eco-friendly packaging. Let’s discuss some of the below.
Types of Eco-Friendly Packaging
Packaging can be divided into multiple types depending on the packaging materials used to manufacture them. But, we can divide the packaging into the following broad categories.
Sustainable packaging refers to the type of packaging that helps sustain our environment. It is just another word for eco-friendly packaging. Sustainable packaging is always considered a safe option to protect our environment.
This type of packaging has a negligible impact on the environment. Even if it takes a few months to decompose, it is still not considered dangerous for our ecosystem. It does not pollute the soil, water, or air in which it is dumped.
Recyclable packaging refers to the type of packaging made of material that can be recycled. For example, if the packaging is made of recyclable plastic, it can go through the heating process to convert that plastic waste into new packaging.
Recycling packaging saves you costs and time. As this packaging waste is used repeatedly in its life cycle, there is very little chance it will harm the environment.
In short, recyclable packaging will not add harmful substances to our environment as it will not be disposed of. It will be taken to a facility where it will be melted and reused.
Biodegradable packaging is made of material that easily decomposes in the environment without working externally. Most biodegradable packaging is made of organic materials and wastes.
This packaging naturally mixes up in the environment without leaving a negative impact.
Typical biodegradable packaging material degrades or decomposes within a few days or months. It does not take years to decompose.
In short, biodegradable packaging does not require external sources to decompose. They use the natural environment to split up into millions of particles.
Compostable packaging takes environmental safety to another level. It helps rebuild all the loss the environment has endured and helps grow plantations. In a way, compostable packaging reduces the negative impacts on the environment that have already been made.
The compostable packaging materials are processed in a commercial or domestic facility to turn the packaging into compost. This compost is used to make a piece of land fertile. Most compostable packages are treated with heat, turning them into compost or humus.
In short, compostable packaging is processed to become a natural fertilizer that helps the environment become greener.
Eco-Friendly Packaging Materials
Whether the packaging will be eco-friendly or hazardous depends upon the materials used to manufacture the packaging.
Reducing the amount of waste from our environment is a step closer to achieving an eco-friendly system. Most eco-friendly packaging materials mentioned below come from organic wastes that decompose easily.
Paper is a wonderful rescuer of the environment. Kraft paper is used as a raw material in many eco-friendly packaging types. It is also used as a packaging filler to keep the product intact.
Paper is used to make corrugated boxes, flyers, packaging paper sheets, etc.
Fabric is also used in making eco-friendly packaging. It may be used as a raw material or in plain form to cover and protect the products.
A good example of fabric-based packaging is a linen sack packaging bag. It is a flexible and breathable bag mostly used to store food-related products.
Fabric is also used to wrap up a product to provide extra protection.
Agricultural waste is also one of the most common packaging materials. Agricultural waste from starch, wheat, and corn is used to make many eco-friendly packaging.
If you are interested in the packaging industry, you may have heard of mushroom packaging. It is a widely used packaging material. This packaging is made from the wastes of crops like wheat and corn.
Starch packaging is commonly used for making eco-friendly packaging. Corns are natural and organic. Corn waste or starch is used in making many types of eco-friendly packaging.
Another example of packaging made up of agricultural waste is a jute bag. It makes a strong bag that can be shaped to look like a regular shopping bag. Jute bags are mostly used to pack food items.
Food components decompose very easily in the natural environment. That’s why they are widely preferred in the packaging industry.
Wood pulp, or wood wool, is a raw material made of wood extracts. You may have seen the fine wood material at woodworking places. These wooden pulps are processed to make different kinds of packaging.
Another raw material from wood pulp is bast. These peels of a tree may otherwise go to waste if not used in packaging or any other useful activity.
Biodegradable Plastic Packaging
Plastic is a notorious packaging material. But all plastics are not environmentally harmful. Bioplastics are special kinds of plastic that are eco-friendly.
They are developed using natural and organic substances like recycled food waste and biomass. Packaging made from bioplastics decomposes easily in the environment.
Benefits of Using Eco-Friendly Packaging
Eco-friendly packaging comes with many short and long-term benefits. It may look like a tough and unwanted exercise for your business, but you will see the positive impacts soon.
Some benefits of using eco-friendly packaging in your business are briefly discussed below.
Easy Customer Wins
Winning a customer is a daunting task for any business. You may have a wonderful product that grabs your customer’s attention, but business ethics matter more to many buyers.
Using eco-friendly packaging makes winning new customers easy for you. Your care for the environment has a huge impact on your customers. This triggers your customers to decide to buy from you.
Retaining your customers is more important than winning new customers. The probability of having repeat orders can make or break a business.
Using eco-friendly packaging will earn your customer’s loyalty. This loyalty will make them buy from you every time.
In this age of aggressive competition, you have to walk the extra mile to be on the top. Running a sustainable business will make you stand out from the rest of your competitors.
You may promote the same products at a similar pricing structure and services as your competitors. But your eco-friendly packaging will likely convince your customers to buy from you instead of your competitors.
Better Brand Recognition
If you run a private-label business, you would be eager to increase your brand’s recognition. How your customers perceive your brand should be your top priority.
Earning recognition takes a lot more than a good product and service. You have to tell your customers that your brand is not hurting the environment to make profits.
Secure Business Future
Our environment has already suffered a lot due to commercial activities. The world has established this fact, and your customers know it too.
You may get a few early sales without running a sustainable business, but it won’t last long. You would eventually have to adopt eco-friendly ways to ensure a secure future for your business.
Compliance with Government Policies
If you run a business in a first-world country, you must comply with government policies. As the world is getting more conscious about the environment, the policies in this regard will become harder with time.
You may also have to validate that your suppliers have developed the products in eco-friendly ways. So, if you want to secure the future of your business, running an eco-friendly business is a wise decision you should make today.
Product returns and refunds are an integral part of a business. If you care for the environment, your customers will naturally care for your business.
Your customers may not tolerate a minor defect if you run your business purely aimed at profits. If they know you take steps to reduce carbon emissions and make the earth greener, they may also be lenient towards you.
Business can only run with loyal employees. If you care for the environment, your employees will feel safe and satisfied working with you.
Your employees would prefer working with your company even at lower perks compared to working in a company that is unsafe for the environment.
Above all the benefits, you will feel satisfied with your business if it is not harming the environment. You are more likely to work with more focus and passion at your business that complies with the earth’s safety.
Examples of Companies Using Eco-Friendly Packaging
Here are the three highly effective examples of companies that have taken sustainability in stride to be the leaders in using eco-friendly packaging. You can also learn and get motivation from their wonderful initiatives that earned them a huge customer base.
Nestle is one of the global leaders in supplying food and beverages. The company has taken multiple initiatives to reduce environmental waste. Their recent step to replace plastic straws with paper straws has earned a huge appreciation from their customers.
Boxed Water is a company that runs purely on protecting the environment. Their idea and eco-friendly initiative have overtaken the internet and social media. Selling water in an eco-friendly box has made them a huge success.
Sapphire was one of the regular clothing brands in Pakistan. It became viral with its unusual step of using a seed packaging bag with its clothes. The idea was so well-embraced by the customers that they started preferring to buy from Sapphire without even worrying about the clothing prices.
Eco-Friendly Packaging Ideas
Using eco-friendly packaging is not difficult. Rather, it can be full of fun and innovation. You will make your packaging eco-friendly and leave a striking first impression.
Let’s discuss the top 10 eco-friendly packaging ideas, so you can implement the ones that appeal the most to you.
Boxes are most commonly used in packing large products. They are mostly used in e-commerce businesses. You can pack your products in sustainable and biodegradable boxes.
Paper mailers are ideal for packing small and light products. In addition to being eco-friendly, these mailers will also save you in shipping costs in terms of volumetric weight.
Fabric is a great option to be used in packing your products. You can use simple fabric in an innovative way that presents your products well and is safe for the environment.
You may use packaging that is 100% recyclable. It can be processed again to be used as a raw material in making other products.
Packaging is not always meant to be thrown away. You may pack your products in fancy packaging that your customers can use repeatedly. This will not only reduce waste but will also keep reminding your customers about your business.
Using paper bags is a simple yet powerful packaging idea that is not harmful to the environment. Grocery stores mostly use it to pack lightweight products.
Seed bags are ideal for adding your contribution towards saving the environment. You can encourage your customers to tear up your seed bags and plant them in different areas to promote the plantation.
You may use regular packaging for your product, but if you want to add up the aesthetic impact, you can wrap it up with attractive paper.
You can use simple tape to make your packaging look more attractive. In an ideal case, you can use printed tape to promote your business.
Using biodegradable packaging peanuts is also an amazing way to leave a positive impact on your customers. They are easily decomposed in the environment and add to your product’s presentation.
How to Choose Eco-Friendly Packaging for Your Business?
You can consider the following tips while choosing eco-friendly packaging for your business.
You need to make sure that the packaging can accommodate your products. If you sell multiple items with varying sizes, you may go for a universal size of packaging that fits all of your products.
You can also check the possibility of ordering multiple packaging sizes to accommodate different types of products.
While being environmentally sustainable is important, the ultimate goal of a business is to be profitable in the end. The factors like environmental sustainability should contribute towards achieving this goal.
So, the cost of packaging should be important to you. You have to analyze and calculate whether you will still be profitable after using eco-friendly packaging. There are many cost-effective options for eco-friendly packaging.
All that matters is how you portray your business to your customers. You can still impress your customers by using cheap, eco-friendly packaging. You must make your customers realize that you care for the environment.
Consistency is the key to success in a business. This applies to your packaging too. Your customers must receive products in the same packaging as they received before.
Many businesses have established their customer’s trust through their packaging. If you also have the same strategy, you must ensure that your packaging supplier will have enough stock for your current and future packaging requirements.
Using custom packaging may take your business to new horizons. You may not be using custom packaging at the moment, but your plans may change in the future.
So, you need to ensure that the eco-friendly packaging you are getting now is customizable per your requirements.
FAQs about Eco-Friendly Packaging
Let’s learn the answers to the most frequently asked questions about eco-friendly packaging.
Is Eco-friendly Packaging Important in E-commerce?
Yes. Sustainable e-commerce is the need of the hour. As online shopping has already become the new normal, packaging plays a huge role in this field. You will have to use eco-friendly packaging to remain competitive.
While you may not face many restrictions about your packaging while selling online, you will have to switch to using eco-friendly packaging in the coming days.
Should a Small Business Use Eco-Friendly Packaging?
Yes. Using eco-friendly packaging can be a smart way to make a small business successful. If you adopt the right norms from the start, you won’t face difficulties in the future.
So, eco-friendly packaging is the right step for a small business to take it to new heights.
What Is the Cheapest Material for Eco-Friendly Packaging?
Paper and agricultural waste like cornstarch are the cheapest materials for eco-friendly packaging. They decompose naturally in the environment because they are made of organic substances.
You just need to ask your packaging supplier which raw materials they use to develop eco-friendly packaging. You will have an idea of the cost. This will give you the margin of negotiations with your supplier.
Eco-friendly packaging has huge relevance in every type of business. Your packaging explains a lot about your business. You need to use this simple yet effective tool the way your audience would appreciate it.
Many businesses have become successful by using eco-friendly packaging. It may be a slow process, but it is a safe passage for long-term success.