Newsroom Green Industry Article – The Future of Green Packaging

Over the past decade there has been trend in American to follow a more sustainable and healthy lifestyle. Whether or not people believe in global warming, there is a rising consensus that a healthier planet translates into a better quality of life for both current and future generations. Food companies and restaurants have remolded their business plans to incorporate more organic ingredients and shifted toward more sustainable packaging in order to reduce waste. In fact, most areas of the packaging industry are moving towards more creative packaging designs that are recyclable, renewable or biodegradable. With disregarded packaging making up one third of the United States total trash this shift will have a serious positive impact on the environment.

In recent years, more consumers consider the environmental friendliness of a product’s packaging when making a purchase. As sustainability becomes more mainstream consumers are starting to demand proof of sustainability claims on a product’s packaging. Unnecessary or overuse of packaging appears irresponsible in the eyes of the consumer. Today, consumers put a greater value on packaging that is either recyclable, biodegradable or made from non-virgin materials. The visual impact of putting less garbage out on the curb every week can be very satisfying.

Although the majority of consumers favor “greener” packaging, the sustainable factor of packaging is looked over if it drives up the price of the product. Cost may be the driving factor in the packaging industry today, but experts project factors such as sustainability, food safety and security may rise above costs in importance in the next ten years. However, for now cost still plays the major roll when determining a packaging design. There is also no point in going green if the packaging can’t obtain its primary objective; to protect the product during shipping and storage. Some industries have found it difficult to find suitable and cost effective substitutes for non-renewable virgin materials. Luckily the combination of the two to three year lifespan of packaging and the drive to be sustainable has created a surge of innovation in the packaging industry.

Going sustainable does not necessarily mean an increase in cost. Many companies have found ways to save money by reducing waste and following more sustainable practices. Some companies are even collaborating with one another to cut costs and reduce waste. One company’s waste may just be another company’s treasure. For example, a food company that uses a lot of eggs in its product has to pay to dispose of all the disregarded eggshells. Instead paying to have that waste disposed of, the eggshells to can be sent over to a packaging company to be incorporated into a product’s packaging. Creating packaging out of recyclable materials often uses much less energy than using virgin materials would, resulting in reduce costs. Even reducing the size of a product’s packaging by a small amount can have a big impact on waste if the packaging is mass produced.

Despite the recent creativity the packaging industry has shown when it comes to environmental friendly packaging there are still some major obstacles to overcome. First of all, simple changes in packaging can actually translate into complicated changes in the manufacturing process. Recyclable, reusable and compostable packaging is only effective if consumers actually follow through with disposing of the packaging in the way in which it was designed.