In the ever-evolving business world, the path to glory always depends on manifold transactions. The business has to be resilient, embrace change, and be adept at turning every situation to its advantage. One such changing trend in the larger business environment is the realisation of social responsibility, including providing sustainable packaging in line with changing consumer behaviour. Users of products and services are now largely aware of non-sustainable product packaging’s hazardous impact on the environment.
What is Eco-friendly Packaging?
In simple terms, eco-friendly packaging is any type of product packaging that is environment-friendly, easily recyclable, and healthy for consumers. The production of a product has an inevitable impact on the environment right from its manufacturing source. From raw materials to finished goods and from buying to disposing of the packaging, the material can have a tremendous impact on the environment, retailer, and ultimately on the consumer. Certain types of plastics can cause serious damage to water bodies and even degrade the food chain. In contrast, the process and materials used for eco-friendly packaging have a negligible impact on natural resources.
Why is Eco-friendly Packaging Beneficial for Society?
Eco-friendly packaging does not have any adverse effect on people’s health, nor does it pose a threat to the environment. These packaging types can significantly minimise the cost of product packaging and eliminate the use of toxic materials in packaging. Non-toxic materials used in packaging are user-friendly throughout their supply chain. The companies involved in their manufacture use the best technology for their safe production. These materials’ reasonable costs are beneficial for organisations and end-users.
How Popular is Eco-friendly Packaging in the Competitive Business World?
The goal of saving the planet provides countless reasons for businesses to go for eco-friendly packaging options. This will lead to a significant shift toward sustainable packaging. In fact, the global sustainable packaging market size is anticipated to expand at an annual CAGR of 6% from 2020 to 2027. Some of the leading firms across the globe have started embracing this change. A few of these are mentioned below.
- The multinational retail giant Walmart aims to incorporate 100% recyclable packaging by 2025.
- Top consumer-facing companies like Marico, Bacardi, ASICS, Bacardi, Future Consumer, HUL, Coca-Cola, Parle Agro and PepsiCo have been using green packaging as they plan to implement 100% recyclable packages by 2025.
- In India, 71% of retailers have already been strategising to transform their packaging materials.
Why Opt for Eco-Friendly Packaging for Your Business?
The importance of eco-friendly packaging is not only perceived by consumers but is also recognised by industries. These are triggering a stark transformation in the ways of packaging. Here are a few pointers that will give you enough motivation to opt for eco-friendly packaging for your business.
- Apart from social responsibility, the primary driving force for the surging popularity of eco-friendly packaging among businesses is changing consumer preferences.
- Over 86% of Indian consumers say that they are happy to purchase sustainable products.
- Consumers are now willing to spend more on companies using sustainable packaging.
- Capgemini’s market research observes changing preferences. They surveyed 7500 end-users and 750 organisations in nine countries, including India.
- According to the research, 79% of consumers prefer to buy products having eco-friendly packaging. Also, 52% of consumers feel emotionally attached to organisations observing sustainable norms.
- Eco-friendly packaging can boost a brand’s net sales by 2 to 4%.
What are the Available Options for Eco-Friendly Packaging?
You can adopt any of the following options to make a shift towards eco-friendly packaging for your business.
1. Cardboard packaging
Cardboard is one of the most recyclable materials available for industry use. It decomposes easily and serves as an excellent packaging material that has no negative environmental impact.
It is the most commonly used material that acts as a substitute for plastic bags. You may use paper packaging for several purposes. Paper packaging for food, shopping bags, and medicines is the best form of recyclable, reusable, and biodegradable packaging.
3. Recycled plastic
Some products need plastic packaging. In these cases, the businesses can opt for recycled plastic. Although plastic is not biodegradable, 100% recycled plastic has less impact on the environment as it reduces the production and disposal of plastics.
4. Organic packaging material
There are various fabrics and papers available for packaging like organic cotton or bagasse paper made from sugarcane pulp fiber, palm leaves packages and tapioca packaging, among many others.
5. Edible packaging
This incredibly innovative packaging system is safe, edible, and biodegradable. It can be made of various edibles like starch, candy, potato fiber, and even milk protein. This type of packaging is suitable for food packaging companies. Arousing consumers’ curiosity to eat the wrapper serves as a creative marketing idea.
6. Hemp plastic
The sustainable, recyclable, renewable, and durable form of plastic made from the hemp plant is a perfect solution for the pollution caused by traditional plastic. The materials used in making hemp plastic are non-toxic and are 100% biodegradable.
7. Other plant-based materials
Some naturally available packaging options come from nature itself, like corn starch packaging, mushroom packaging, and other starchy materials. Corn starch is derived from the corn plant, which gives a plastic-like effect, while mushroom packaging is done with inedible mushrooms.
8. Jute fiber plastic
Mubarak Ahmad Khan, a scientist in Bangladesh, has discovered cellulose-based plastic made from jute fiber and named it ‘Sonali.’ This can be used as an eco-friendly, biodegradable substitute for plastic.
How to get Eco-Friendly Packaging for Your Business?
Several Indian companies are already transitioning to eco-friendly packaging. For example, Hindustan Unilever, to fulfil its promise towards a waste-free world, has started adopting post-consumer recycled plastic, which has reduced 10% plastic packing usage with a target of achieving a 25% reduction by 2025. In 2020, Colgate also launched a vegan toothpaste in recyclable tubes.
Now, as you look to shift towards eco-friendly packaging, you need to have a well-laid out plan for that journey. There are several indigenous suppliers you can tap into, like Ecoware, which makes packaging products from agriculture wastes like sugarcane and wheat. Another Bangalore-based company, Packmile, is providing biodegradable and recyclable craft papers for Amazon. Uflex Ltd provides one of the most flexible packaging options, which keeps products naturally fresh and safe for human use. Evirocor has developed sustainable packaging options for food packaging using earth-friendly, plant-based packaging that is home compostable and completely biodegradable.
How to Start the Transition to Eco-friendly Packaging?
- Start with planning the whole process of transition. Strategise the concept according to your business needs. Decide on the packaging options based on product size, type, and usability.
- First, try the transition with a single product line. Taking this process at a steady pace will help you evaluate the transition results and make changes accordingly.
- Integrate your packaging system with a package supplier firm. Initially, place an order only for the first line of products.
- Analyse and fix the price; ensure you do not end up paying excess for your packaging materials.
- Strategise and manage packaging according to the product’s size. Avoid wastage of the packing materials. Too much wrapping or cushioning is not required for every product, so devise a product-wise packaging system.
- Ensure the use of recycled packaging material. If your products cannot be shipped without plastics, make sure you use recycled ones that have a reduced environmental impact. You may also use corrugated cardboard, which can be easily recycled to create unique shapes and customised for appropriate designs.
- Optimise your packaging options; by doing so, you can save on cost and minimise wastage.
- Seek an expert professional designer’s advice to shape your product packaging and stay one step ahead of your competitors.
- Educate people about your packaging. Let consumers know about the impact of your packaging on the environment and individuals.
So, move with the changing times, adopt sustainable packaging options, and support the transition to improve the environment and individual health. Inclusiveness, social responsibility, and the impact on the ground are the key advantages of this transformation. The pandemic has underlined the need to protect ourselves and the environment from the harmful effects of product packaging. According to a study, 67% of people said they would be even more cautious about natural resources because of COVID-19, and 65% of consumers are more aware of the after-effects of their consumption patterns. More and more companies and consumers are moving towards a greener environment and are completely supporting sustainable product packages. So, start enveloping your business products with the goodness of nature and do your bit to save the planet.
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