A comprehensive study conducted by Packaging Digest was released to the Sustainable Packaging Coalition in 2018. It highlights that up to 93% believe that the environmental concerns surrounding plastic packaging will continue to grow. Landfills continue to pile across the globe with single-use plastic packaging. Shoppers are using over 500 billion single-use plastic bags each year. The demand for packaging solutions made of sustainable materials increases as the state of the environmental earth desperately requires it. As shared by the Sustainable Packaging Coalition, “Materials are at the center or resource management and as such, they are the limiting factor for continued consumption of goods and services at all facets of today’s global economies”.
Vietnam currently ranks fourth across the globe in contributing to the world’s plastic volume in waste (up to 73,000 tons of plastic waste polluting the ocean each year). So, when it comes to sustainable packaging produced from sustainable materials, what can company leaders do to ensure a good life cycle of packaging products? Implementing sustainable packaging solutions is a significant necessity to both the packing industry and its consumers.
What is Sustainable Packaging?
To challenge the astounding figure that more than 1 million bags are used each minute, sustainable packaging is multi-use packaging that reduces its ecological footprint. Sustainable packaging encompasses the entire life cycle of a packaging product:
- Sourcing of materials
- Sustainable materials of choice
- Product development, and
- Use of packaging solutions
For a packaging to be sustainable, it must have minimal environmental impact and footprints.
Sustainable packaging solutions aim to follow the reuse, recycle compost’ basis to ensure that as time progresses, the environmental footprint of sustainable packaging is reduced. For packaging to be deemed sustainable:
- The material must be sustainably sourced
- Once the packaging is disposed of, it must be recyclable and/or compostable
- The design of the product must maintain the quality of the product for usability
- The production and manufacturing cost is realistically feasible for long-term application
There are a variety of global standards that sustainable packaging companies may adhere to measure the sustainability of their company practices and manufacturing. Sustainable packaging processes can be measured by audits and certifications that assess a company’s ethical, social and environmental policies such as whether they follow Global Recycled Standards (GRS) or follow guidelines provided by organizations such as the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).
Why Sustainable Packaging is Important
Sustainable Packaging is important because unsustainable packing is causing irreversible, damaging environmental and human health impacts. This ideal environmental trinity “reduce, reuse, recycle” in sustainable packaging ensures that the environmental footprint of the products’ stages across its life cycle is reduced.
Conventional packaging such as single-use plastic bags is convenient, hence why despite its biodegradability, is causing such environmental destruction. Sustainable packaging is crucial to replacing conventional packaging as a means of correcting the devastating effects of non-recyclable and non-renewable packaging materials to have already polluted planet earth. Vietnam produces up to 1.8 million tons of plastic waste each year, yet only 27% of it is recycled.
The Benefits of Sustainable Packaging
There are a variety of benefits to sustainable packaging affecting companies, consumers and of course the holistic health of planet earth.
- Sustainable products meet consumer demands:
Reports have shown that up to 60% of consumers are less inclined to purchase products provided in harmful packaging. As society becomes more aware with the staggering effects of conventional packaging, most expect sustainable packaging when choosing where to spend their money.
- Sustainable packaging reduces the carbon footprint of industries:
Businesses that implement sustainable packaging as part of their methods reduce the carbon footprint within their industry. By reducing the use of harmful packaging reliant on fossil fuels, carbon dioxide emissions are minimalized. Effective to both global climate challenge and ocean pollution, industries that opt for sustainable packaging are mindful of their environmental footprint.
- Cost-effective transportation:
Sustainable packaging solutions are designed to be both lightweight and closely stacked. Lighter shipments of sustainable packaging not only reduce transportation costs, but also reduce the amount of fuel during transportation.
Sustainable packaging products are not toxic, thereby not harmful to both workers and consumers. Through using sustainable materials that are not hazardous to the environment, the health of humans and are not at risk throughout the product’s life cycle.
- Brand reputation:
Businesses that offer sustainable packaging solutions to their consumers represent their sense of accountability and care for the environment. This significantly impacts a brand’s positive image in the public and overall perception by the public.
Which Sustainable Packaging Materials should you choose?
Bk-bags recommends that industry leaders take accountability in providing consumers with sustainable packaging materials. When selecting Sustainable Packing Materials, Bk-bags advises choosing materials with low negative impacts to the environment.
The Bk-bags’s Materials Selection
Sourcing sustainable material for BK-bags products is at the core of Bk-bags’s mission to reduce the environmental footprint of both the packaging industry and overall consumer practices. Materials sourced by the Bk-bags team produce a variety of sustainable packaging solutions, all of which are eco-friendly, able to be reused, recycles, and fit for compost:
- PLA (Polylactic Acid) bio-based bags: PLA is produced from plants rich in carbohydrates. These processes can be made from a variety of renewable bio-based feedstocks that are Agro-based (plants), Ligno-cellulosic (inedible plants such as wood) or Organic Waste.
- FSC paper bags: Paper bag packaging bags that are responsibly sourced through the forest
- PP (Polypropylene) bags: these robust materials are 100% reusable and durable, able to me melted down and transformed into other products in the future
- Rpet (Recycled Polyethylene Terephthalate) bags: Rpet materials produce packaging that is 100% recyclable, lightweight, non-hazardous to consumers, workers and the environment and its production lowers CO2 emissions
- Paper bags and boxes: An obvious choice for many consumers, paper bags and boxes are 100% biodegradable, reusable and recyclable. Furthermore, paper packaging conserves natural resources as they are extracted from unbleached, inorganic matter.
- Cotton bags: Harvested cotton used to produce sustainable packaging makes cotton bags durable and biodegradable.
Which Sustainable Packaging Materials will you choose?
With such pressure from consumers and competitors, it is difficult to choose which sustainable packaging materials are right for your business. The Sustainable Packaging Material that a business selects reflects greatly on the company’s values and branding. Furthermore, ethical decision making pertinent to the environment are in great demand and impactful to both the business, consumer, and Earth.
Here are some end-of-life factors to look out for when assessing the sustainability of packaging material:
The material used to produce the packaging may be used again for the original purpose for which it was designed without being altered. And if the product is not reusable, can it at least be refurbished for other purposes?
This pertains to whether the material is about to be used again for a different purpose. An example of upcycling would be to use a paper bag to store goods rather than to transport products.
Recyclable materials can be recovered from waste and turned into other products. A common trend is recycling materials to create clothing. YouTuber Micarah Tewers demonstrates this through a popular video, reusing animal feeding bags to create a fancy dress.
W2E (waste-to-energy) identifies whether a product may be incinerated to produce fuel or energy.
It is important to understand the decomposition process of materials once they enter a landfill. Landfill factors such as light and air circulation also affect the decomposition of materials. Hence, the desperate need for sustainable materials that decompose, opposed to plastic packaging that can take up to 1,000 years to decompose.
- Impact Reduction:
The ultimate goal of implementing sustainable materials is to lessen the impact on planet earth. The earth’s resources are limited, and it is through environmentally conscious decision making in product packaging, purchasing, production and usage that we can alleviate the ecological footprint.
In its simplest criteria for environmentally ethical material selection: is it reusable? Is it recyclable? Is it compostable? Although a material may be reusable or recyclable, it does not necessarily suggest that it is sustainable. If you are unsure, education and research is key. Bk-bags offers a variety of sustainable products with core material information to advise you.
Upon the selection process of appropriate Sustainable Packaging Materials, please consider the following:
- Reducing your industry’s Carbon Footprint
- Recyclability, reusability and compostability
- Hazardous toxins effective to workers, consumers, and planet earth
- Energy resources and fossil fuels
- Effect cost solutions that allow your business to implement sustainable packaging materials in the long run
- Certification by reputable sustainable standards in production and manufacturing
Bk-bags encourage everyone to think and use more sustainably. When it comes to Sustainable Packaging Materials sourced for Bk-bags packaging solutions, decision-makers are advised to choose transparent producers and manufacturers. Know what materials contribute to the reputation of your company, and gain insight into how your company’s choices will leave a mark on this planet for the years to come.