The Pursuit of Sustainable Packaging

Sustainability is much more than a Buzzword now

The need to be more eco-friendly and more sustainable is one of the biggest drivers for all modern brands, especially the ones catering to millennials who are extremely cautious about the affect their consumer habits have on the environment.

But, what does being sustainable mean? How do you pursue sustainability in packaging? Does being sustainable mean making drastic changes to current packaging strategy? What are the cost impacts of being sustainable?

First and foremost let's understand one thing, to begin the journey towards sustainability in your packaging and branding, it is of utmost importance to understand the current status of your supply chain and materials being used in existing packaging and branding. It might surprise you to find out that certain areas of your brand endeavor might already be using recycled products or bio-degradable products, recycled Polyester or Kraft paper without printing.

It is only upon clearly understanding your status quo, that you can embark on the sustainability journey. Now, it is important to understand that not every recycled material may be sustainable, and not every sustainable material may be ethically created.

BEING SUSTAINABLE

The journey towards sustainability begins with making a conscious choice of either adding more eco-friendly, bio-degradable and/or recycled material to your brand and packaging, or using less material in total than previously, or including circularity in material such that it can re-enter the supply chain post-use or a combination of all of the above.

In packaging pursuing sustainability would begin by examining current packaging, whether it has the optimal design, whether it uses the right materials and above all does it harm the environment i.e. whether or not it has any recycled content or is majorly composed of virgin material, the percentage of oil based plastic being used in it, all this will help determine the state of your current packaging, for making this determination our suggestion is to engage an expert, who can examine the design and material aspect of your packaging and recommend changes to first optimize the design of the packaging, so that you are using less material than before, so basically value engineer your product, second would be to recommend comparatively more sustainable material than before without compromising aesthetics and maintaining cost parity, third, provide a road-map to incrementally becoming more and more sustainable, rather than making a drastic step change. 

SUSTAINABILITY IS AN INCREMENTAL PROCESS

Which leads us to the point made about the need to make drastic changes in pursuing sustainable packaging, our suggestion is to approach it strategically, because being more sustainable goes beyond packaging alone and needs value chain wide effort, in order to use less & save more, in terms of energy, footprint and material. We suggest transforming packaging and other products sourced from not sustainable to fully sustainable in a gradual but committed manner, by making strategic changes to the brand, initially the focus must be to ensure brand design and consumer message moves towards sustainability and doing so by changing packaging would be the first logical step, you can move from a completely toxic, non-sustainable packaging to much higher sustainability packaging, just by changing paper used in packaging to sustainably sourced paper and by changing plastics used from virgin to recycled.

BEING SUSTAINABLE ISN'T EXPENSIVE

Experts in the field can help you become more sustainable and align the journey with your strategy. Yes, from a cost perspective, being 100% sustainable might be slightly more expensive, than your current packaging, but that's a strategic decision to make, most brands who we have an experience with are well on their way to becoming more and more sustainable, but their approach is gradual and incremental, which we find the best and most cost effective approach. We strongly suggest incorporating more recycled and ethically sourced material as an initial step, reduce overall material used and finally move towards product which can either be re-used again and again and when disposed can either decompose or be recycled. The initial change needed is not at all expensive, in our multiple projects with leading brands, we find that the cost of trims and packaging for introducing partial sustainability in a product, is generally at par or lower than existing trims and packaging, lower price occurs in cases where we we redesign the product to make it not only more sustainable but use less material itself, without compromising the aesthetics or functionality.

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