It’s no secret these days that plastic and packaging materials often end up in our world’s oceans. We’ve all seen the news reports or the snippets of documentaries with packaging and other garbage polluting Earth’s oceans. There are many efforts with individuals contributing to reducing the amount of waste that goes into the oceans, but what can companies do in terms of their packaging to make the future cleaner?
The packaging industry faces two opportunities for participating in sustainable efforts: innovate to produce more equipment, products, and process that are eco-friendly, especially in highly-consumed industries like food and beverage, and contribute to the disposal of the products used.
As a company, no doubt you’re already recycling on a large scale, but you can also ensure that your packaging is fully recyclable for your customer. A cardboard box is easy to recycle, but what about the filler inside? Using paper filler is a great way to make your packaging more recyclable. And if by accident, the paper gets thrown away, it will degrade on its own. Other great fillers include fabric, manmade fibers and wood. These fillers are especially wonderful if you’re seeking to give your products a rustic, homey feel. Imagine a candle or wall decoration that arrives packaged in fabric. Your products will look fantastic, and you’ll be doing your part for the oceans.
If you have to use plastics, why not seek out something that will biodegrade? Dissolvable materials such as corn-based plastics are making a huge impact on just how much trash is now floating around our world.
The style of your packaging is important, especially when it comes to a customer selecting an item in a store, but in the end, it’s what’s in the package that counts. So why not use less? Minimal packaging ensures less trash, and that ensures less waste that will eventually go into our oceans. Also, less packaging means reduced cost for you, both for the packaging itself and also for manufacturing and transportation. Saving money and helping the environment can be a win win win for your company.
Another way to make your packaging dollar go further is to use an industrial shredder at your business. Shredding excess boxes and paper will not only help your company with its own recycling needs, but that shredded material can be used for packaging! Imagine office supplies or the like cradled in a carton full of shredded office paper. The positive reviews practically write themselves.
What does your secondary packaging look like? Many people don’t consider packaging beyond what will eventually land in the hands of the consumer, but what about before that, when your products are being shipped? Large shipping boxes tend to be thrown away at their destination, and then smaller boxes are shipped on, but what if we eliminate that large box altogether?
Instead of shipping smaller boxes inside larger ones, consider stacking the smaller boxes on a pallet and then using stretchable wrapping to secure the entire load. Stretchable wrapping material is smaller and fits more easily inside recycling bins. With all the fervor against plastic, it seems counterintuitive that plastic wrapping would actually help the environment, but a pallet full of boxes secured with stretch wrapping is actually MORE likely to arrive at its destination safely than a group of smaller boxes secured inside a larger one with no filler. This means fewer breakages which means fewer products will have to be thrown away to clutter a landfill or find their way into the oceans. And since stretch wrapping is so easy to handle, it’s more likely to be carried to the recycling bin than an unwieldy box.
And speaking of boxes, choosing the right one for your product is important. Using a large box for a small item is wasteful, and many people like a smaller package anyway, especially one that can fit in their mailbox and not be left on the porch. And we all know happy customers are important, but they’re doubly so where the environment is concerned. A happy customer is more likely to go that extra step and recycle their boxes and filler.
Making small changes to your packaging can help save the oceans and give you a warm feeling, and it’s also great PR! Tell everyone about the changes you’ve made to ensure a clean environment. Customers will be more likely to buy from a company who is making a difference, and you might inspire others to do the same. You can continue the cycle and ask your customers to send you stories about their own efforts to make the oceans cleaner.
At the top of the Environmental Protection Hierarchy is Source Reduction. That means reducing waste at the very beginning of an item’s life with a mind as to how that item will ultimately be discarded. And that starts with packaging, with you. Your company might not have the resources to paddle into the ocean and pick up trash, but you can ensure that your packaging never gets there. We need to protect our oceans and the creatures inside. With the right packaging, you can truly be part of the solution.
Contact the experienced team at Hughes Enterprises to find the right sustainability improvements for your packaging line.
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