Even without considering the benefits of recycling on the environment (of which there are many), there are more benefits beyond that in sustainable packaging. Consider the matter of cost. The expense of packaging can be a major cost driver; indeed, an article from Environmental Leader reports that “sustainability will replace cost as one of the packaging industry’s major challenges” in the next ten years. Fortunately there are resources available for those who want to explore sustainable packaging in earnest.
In 2012 Deloitte released a paper entitled “Thinking outside the box–Throw away your current approach to packaging” which includes several ideas for those who want to make the shift to sustainability. This includes a “spectrum of sustainable packaging opportunities”
- “Passive” materials switch–changing traditional packaging materials with environmentally-friendly ones
- “Active” materials switch–changing traditional packaging materials with those that require a change in consumer behavior (like reusable packaging)
- Packaging and product design changes–changing the packaging to require fewer materials or fewer steps
- Supply chain process redesign–to reduce packaging needs
In the realm of the “passive” materials switch, an article about Dell’s switch to sustainable packaging catches the eye. It discusses the use of bamboo, a high-tensile strength grass that is rapidly renewable. It promotes healthy soil, grows 24 inches a day, and proper harvesting means that it doesn’t require replanting. Plus, the treatment of bamboo doesn’t involve the dumping of toxic chemicals, and it can be dried in the sun.
The same site giving us information on Dell’s packaging also gives us news about an “active” materials switch. The Notbox Company, which has been serving the European community for several years, will be bringing its reusable packaging products to the United States. According to Notbox, their reusable packages can make 20 or more trips, which is well more than the single-use-then-discard nature of regular cardboard boxes.
But, of course, it isn’t all about the cost benefit ratio when it comes to sustainable packaging. It’s estimated that packaging makes up about one-third of municipal waste in the United States. Considering the looming crisis in some states of running out of landfill space, that number becomes a bit too large to ignore.
For more information on this and other ways to green up your business, please contact us.