A study by Nielson found that consumer brands that demonstrate commitment to sustainability outperform those that don’t. Sustainability has become a mantra that various brands across the globe are starting to live by. One of the core elements of operations that they have focused on is the packaging. This blog post tells you how you can join the sustainability revolution through green, sustainable packaging practices.
What is sustainable packaging?
Sustainable packaging refers to the process of packaging your products with materials that are eco-friendly and unharmful to the environment. For example, Juicy Chemistry, an Indian beauty brand, uses highly recyclable materials. In 2020, they made the following announcement, turning into a truly green brand.
We will tell you more about Indian D2C brands that practice true sustainability in this blog post.
When is packaging considered sustainable?
According to the Sustainable Packaging Coalition, eco-friendly packaging must meet the following criteria:
- Useful, safe, and healthy for the public throughout its lifecycle
- Fit for purpose in terms of performance and cost
- Consumes only renewable energy
- Made from recycled materials
- Uses only clean technologies
- Minimizes wastage
- Is part of a circular system of reuse
Note: Per Wikipedia, Clean technology is any process, product, or service that reduces negative environmental impacts through significant energy efficiency improvements, the sustainable use of resources, or environmental protection activities.
Why is sustainable packaging the need of the hour?
Today, online marketplaces and D2C brands are considering environmental sustainability in terms of products, services, and packaging. But what brought about this change? Why is every brand trying to be eco-conscious? Here are three main reasons behind this sudden but necessary shift: Consumer preferences, climate change, and government regulations.
Millions of tonnes of plastic waste are generated every year, and predominantly, these turn out to be packaging waste. Per a report by Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment, the packaging industry is responsible for 40% of plastic pollution worldwide. According to government claims, more than 34 lakh tonnes of plastic waste were generated in India in 2019-20, which doubled in five years! The adverse effects of using plastic have been made clear to the world through the multiple climate change meetings that happen every year. This also led to a significant part of the global public becoming more conscious about not only what they use but also what the brands they follow use. The government also has laws that regulate the use of single-use plastic. The last few years have created a sense of panic among the younger generation, which is now leading the fight for an eco-friendly way of life.
Engaging in sustainable packaging is one of the most remarkable solutions to this problem. Not only is it good for the environment, but also great for your consumers and your brand image. If you’re interested in going green but wondering what packaging mistakes you are making right now, we will tell you!
Top 3 common packaging mistakes you are making
Disproportionate packaging: Big box, small product
How often have you received a huge box containing a small product? Often, brands end up using the same size box for the different products irrespective of their sizes. While it might not seem like a lot, using disproportionate packaging leads to unnecessary shipping costs & storage costs and increases your resources’ carbon footprint. An additional cost here would be that of the filler material that you would use, which tends to be harder to recycle.
Too much plastic: Single-use
One of the worst enemies of brands when it comes to packaging is the use of plastic material. India alone generates 25,940 tonnes of plastic waste a day. Due to its low cost of production, many brands end up using plastic for packaging despite its effects on the environment. Plastic takes centuries to decompose and often ends up in landfills and oceans. The bubble wrap that is used is also equally harmful as single-use plastic.
Too many materials: Russian doll
Have you seen a Russian doll? It has multiple layers and is fun to look at! However, it doesn’t have to be the case with packaging. Using multiple layers of packaging with different materials is going to frustrate your consumer, leading to a bad experience. Wait, that’s not it! It will also confuse your consumer about what is recyclable and what isn’t! When it comes to packaging, simplicity is key.
Now that you know where you’re going wrong see how you can win at the game of sustainable packaging today.
Five ways you can embrace sustainable packaging today
This technique has been making waves today. Right from using coconut husk to corn starch, brands are coming up with the most innovative ideas for biodegradable packaging. They are often non-toxic and require minimal energy to produce. Also cool are edible packaging materials. A number of brands today are researching the most sustainable ways to create edible packaging with materials like agar and seaweed.
We personally LOVE the story of Ecovia, a reusable packaging brand. How it works is, Ecovia partners with other brands and provides the packaging solution. Consumers can then return the packaging to Ecovia via their website and earn reward points they can use later. Check it out: Ecovia
ProTip: Always be on the lookout for creative, planet-friendly packaging ideas. One idea we love is plantable packaging. It refers to the packaging that can be sown into the soil and has seeds embedded in it. How cool is that? We are obsessed with Carragreen and their DIY Plantable Calendars. Carrageen provides eco-friendly alternatives for food packaging and stationery products. They were also recently seen on the popular TV show, Shark Tank.
We are sure you’re familiar with the concept of recycling. Using recycled materials for packaging is a great way to demonstrate sustainability. Paperboard cardboard is one of the easily available recyclable materials in India. It is made out of paper pulp and is lightweight, making it ideal for packing them into boxes.
Nykaa, India’s first beauty Unicorn, also has embraced recycling. Customers can now send the packaging back to Nykaa’s warehouse, where the packaging will be recycled. We also love how Swiggy, India’s leading food delivery app, also took a step towards sustainability by providing groceries in cloth bags and then encouraging the consumers to return the bag through the delivery agents.
ProTip: Always share recycling tips in your product packaging. It not only keeps your customers informed but also helps boost your reputation as a green warrior.
It is now established that the material you use for packaging makes all the difference. However, one other thing that can ruin your efforts at sustainable packaging is the dye you use in it. Today, after years of research, you can find organic, harmless, chemical-free dyes made out of flowers and vegetables. Investing in this will be a sound reflection of your decision to go green.
For instance, Phool, an incense manufacturer, is trying to solve the problem of temple waste in India. They have created a compostable packaging using seed paper infused with Tulsi seeds and ink made from vegetable dyes. After using the incense or flowers, all the customers must do is unfold the paper, bury it in a pot with dirt, water it regularly, and watch the seeds sprout into a Tulsi plant.
As we mentioned before, using multiple layers of packaging can look like you’re trying to secure the product inside, but more often than not, you end up with a frustrated customer and a mountain of packaging waste that needs to be disposed of. The solution here is to reduce the packaging you’re using. Invest in research and development and think of better ways to use minimal packaging while ensuring the product inside stays safe.
Another thing you should be aware of is the use of unnecessary packaging throughout the supply chain process. Partner with your suppliers to create a cleaner, greener supply chain strategy so you can reduce the packaging from the roots.
Go plastic neutral
This is a simple technique where you measure your plastic footprint and recycle the same amount of plastic using effective waste management techniques. Many brands today indulge in monthly recycling processes to maintain plastic neutrality. One such brand is mCaffeine, an Indian D2C beauty brand. The company has partnered with The Disposal Company, a social enterprise employing technology to fund the recovery of as much plastic as the brand uses across its various stages. Read more about mCaffeine going plastic neutral here.
Today, many brands have started listening to the planet and their customers and are looking for innovative ways to reduce their plastic footprint. We love Indian D2C brands like Bare Necessities, Vilvah, Greensole, and many more for taking the initiative to make the world a better place for future generations.
There are hundreds of ways to take a step towards sustainability. Let us know what you’re doing in this revolution in the comments section below.
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