Corrugated Packaging waste has long been a problem in the retail sector. Plastic and molded foam are piled up in landfills, which will remain for many generations. The e-commerce industry has seen a surge in popularity due to the pandemic forcing online shopping.
Online shopping for groceries and furniture has made ordering easier than ever. However, consumers and businesses must take more responsibility for creating sustainable processes that support environmental initiatives.
It can be hard to know how durable packaging materials are. It is essential to assess the life cycles of packaging materials to ensure that brands meet their sustainability responsibilities.
This comprehensive guide to sustainable packaging materials will help consumers and businesses make green choices and pave the way for a better future.
Ecological Packaging Categories
Based on the specifications and capabilities of the materials, sustainable packaging falls into three main categories.
It is the most used type of sustainable packaging in many retail sectors. Recycling packaging may include but is not limited to paper-based materials such as:
- Kraft Paper
Recycled paper materials can be soaked and shredded to make new products.
Although the durability of paper decreases with recycling, recyclable materials can be recycled in large numbers.
It can be composted at the end of its useful life, bringing it full circle and having no negative environmental impact.
Although paper-based packaging is recyclable, it cannot be widely used. This depends on composting infrastructure and waste programs that will complete the waste cycle.
Bioplastic packaging is gaining market share in the restaurant and food industry as a reliable compostable material.
Due to their reliance on plastic and polystyrene for hygiene and durability, the food and restaurant industry generates a large portion of packaging waste.
But bioplastic packaging, such as cornstarch or bioplastic materials, is designed to provide durability up to the standard. They also have hygienic properties that ensure the packaging does not spoil for a long time.
Corn starch and bio-plastic packaging materials are marine degradable. This means they can dissolve in water and become food for marine life.
It is precisely what it sounds like. The products are made from highly durable materials to ensure longer shelf life and encourage reuse. This contributes to the circular economy.
Reusable packaging is one of the greenest options on the market. It eliminates the need to use single-use plastic packaging, contributing significantly to global packaging waste.
These are some of the most popular reusable packaging options for products:
- Paper Bags
- Tin Containers
- Rigid Boxes
The global transport of products produces significant waste. Reusable pellets and shipping containers can help reduce costs, increasing your return on investment.
Reusable packaging can be recycled to minimize the impact on the end-of-life cycle of the product.
Sustainable Corrugated Packaging Materials
The traditional corrugated packaging box is composed of 3 layers of cardboard. Lining boards are the outer layers, while the flute is the paper between them. Corrugated sheets can sometimes be doubled to provide additional protection. The most popular shipping and mailing option is the everyday corrugated box.
The walls protect even the most severe manipulations and are relatively affordable. Most companies use corrugated packaging boxes to ship large quantities of products long distances efficiently. Then, some companies print on corrugated cardboard boxes for more brand exposure.
Corrugated cardboard can be 100% recycled; some inks may compromise their recyclability. Companies can use sustainable inks to maintain sustainability if they print on corrugated packaging paperboard.
Corrufated Packaging and Kraft Paper
The kraft pulping process makes raw kraft durable, tear-resistant, and brown. Kraft paperboard makes durable wrapping paper, heavy-duty cardboard, and rigid boxes. It can also be purchased in various colors, making it versatile for branding packaging solutions.
The porous surface of raw Kraft paper allows for high-quality printing. This gives it a rustic, premium look. Kraft paper is more durable than regular paper due to its unique process.
The kraft wood pulp is reduced to a lesser extent, leaving behind more cellulose, which gives the paper its tear-resistance and durability properties.
Raw Kraft paper is more porous than regular paper, which makes it less effective for printing. However, it is very supportive of unique finishing processes.
Kraft is a natural material that can be 100% recycled. You can also use durable coatings to enhance your packaging artwork.
Boxes made from tin are a popular sustainable packaging substrate. They can be 100% recycled and reused while providing a luxurious look.
Tin can be easily processed and returned to its original production cycle. They are magnetic, which makes it easier to extract waste from streams.
Tin packaging can be an excellent option for luxury brands to increase their sustainability practices. It adds high perceived value and encourages consumers to reuse or recycle.
Box inserts are often made from molded pulp for added safety and support. It is a suitable replacement for plastic inserts as it provides more durability and protection to products in packaging boxes.
It is moldable on the product, making it durable and convenient for different packaging products. You can add varnishes or coatings to give the molded pulp inserts a luxurious look.
Due to the texture of the surface, printing on molded pulp is not recommended.
This can be described as a biodegradable material that can replace plastic and polystyrene. It is available in transparent or opaque materials and can be used in many ways. Takeout is the most common use for cornstarch packaging.
Cornstarch packaging, unlike petroleum-based plastic, is biodegradable, renewable, and recyclable. This makes it an excellent choice as an environmentally friendly packaging material.
Two magnets are placed in rigid magnetic closure boxes to close the box. Its solid and robust construction makes it an attractive packaging option for premium products.
The magnetic closure makes unpacking the boxes easy, So, encouraging customers to store them for decoration or storage.
Boxes with magnetic closure are available in both standard and folding versions. The rigid foldable boxes with magnetic closure are packed flat and shipped to reduce shipping and handling charges.
Double-sided tape is used to attach rigid collapsible boxes to their collapsible sides. Companies will often keep the folding part of the packaging functional so customers can easily collapse and store their packaging for reuse.
Relation Between Coating and Sustainable Packaging
It is still challenging to make packaging completely recyclable.
There are many layers to packaging. Each layer is made of different materials, coatings, and inks.
Companies can take various steps to review their current material use, such as banning single-use plastics.
These are just baby steps. However, the industry has bigger goals.
In particular, using more recycled materials to make flexible packaging eliminates the need to use plastic, creates newer forms that can be recycled, and increases the availability of existing plastic for recycling.
Many companies have made significant efforts to provide consumers with recyclable and sustainable products. However, much of the industry has gone green in recent years.
Although the material choices companies make are crucial to the sustainability of their products, coatings can often compromise the recyclability and durability of packaging.
Coatings can be helpful because they add functionality to the plastic that might not be there if they are removed. However, this still raises the question of how environmentally friendly the packaging is.
Green initiatives are increasingly recognized by consumers, who are also becoming more educated on the subject.
Customers will soon notice brands that claim to be eco-friendly but use non-recyclable packaging.
Companies taking steps to become more sustainable should recognize and embrace the importance of sustainable packaging and coatings.
Water-based coatings have become an alternative to flexible packaging and are more durable. So, water-based coatings can withstand harsh conditions and act as a protective layer like any other non-sustainable coating.
Many other options and technologies are under development. This will enable more innovation in sustainable coatings. It will also help pave the way toward fully sustainable packaging solutions.
We expect more innovative packaging materials and a significant shift towards sustainable business practices.
This comprehensive guide to sustainable packaging will help companies make informed decisions about greener packaging.