4 Ways Sustainable Packaging can Stop Climate Change

Krista Greenaway

Krista Greenaway

38285041 - eco concept :wood texture recycle icon on green leaves wall.

The packaging is a component that can be easily overlooked in the supply chain process, but this small oversight quickly snowballs. Purchasing of eCommerce products in high volumes means more companies are being prompted to review the quantity of packaging used and turn to more eco-friendly options.

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Ecommerce packaging & volumes are causing excessive harvesting of our rainforests 

We are often overlooking packaging when thinking about climate change.  Unbeknown to many of us, packaging alone poses one of the biggest problems surrounding deforestation, waste, and pollution. Amazon shipped more than five billion items worldwide through its Prime program in 2017 alone. The sheer quantity of packaging required for this volume of products is generating excessive harvesting of natural resources and means that non-recyclable, plastic packaging is piling up in landfill faster than we can record.

Business owners are not alone in this feat to further climate change. With careful review, companies can easily determine the issues surrounding mixed plastic packaging and instead use sustainable packaging to their advantage, not only to combat climate change but also to engage customers that want to see these principles in place. Here we will discuss how you can make proactive changes to your packaging processes, engage effectively with packaging suppliers and counteract climate change causes.

Recycling initiatives in Europe

1) Recycle as much as you can

Many of us are aware of the need to recycle goods in order to combat climate change. Yet the majority of packaging used to conceal e-commerce deliveries is made from paper, paperboard and mixed plastics – materials that don’t quite meet the ecological quota. And in terms of office supplies, 24 trees have to be cut down in order to manufacture 1 ton of virgin paper used for office printing. The world produces 300 million tons of paper every year.

The harvesting of natural materials for packaging is rapidly depleting our rainforests but this can be minimised if companies switch to using 100% recyclable packaging products. Not only is this an easy way for business to become more sustainable but it will ease the minds of their consumers if they know their buying from an ethical supplier. In fact, 81% of shoppers believe that companies should invest more of their resources to protect and improve the environment, with more than two thirds willing to pay more.

2) Reuse and repurpose

Custom reusable bags are not only great for protecting the environment, they are a fantastic marketing tool for your business. By creating promotional bags from recycled or sustainable materials you minimize your brand’s carbon footprint and discourage the use of disposable bags and other plastic packaging. Cotton, hemp, bamboo and jute are sustainable, plant-based textiles which due to their reusable nature, constitute less greenhouse gas emissions released from mass production. Once harvested and processed into reusable bags they have no further repercussions on our ecosystem and can continue to be recycled or even composted. 

Eco-friendly bags and promotional packaging not only draws in the eye of consumers but allows businesses to combat packaging ending up in landfill or as litter which typically succeeds delivery. In 2016, in the EU alone, total packaging waste amounted to nearly 87 million tonnes which equates to around 170 kg per person. Incorporating reusable products into your business model reduces waste in landfills and preserves the resources needed to manufacture new products from scratch.

Fragile plastic wrapping - Packaging can stop climate change

3) Review how you make and package your own products 

The problem surrounding packaging is not solely the responsibility of business owners. It is a process that can be overseen by your company’s designers. Review if your packaging can be made from a single material product such as paper or PET plastic conserves trees and other natural resources, reduces greenhouse gases that are emitted by paper making industries. It also stops mixed plastic packaging from clogging our landfill sites.

Trash left on a pile - Packaging can stop climate change

Plastic packaging is a product we aim to keep in the past as we move forward in the world of sustainability. The list of detrimental effects plastic causes is simply not enough to squeeze into a short paragraph. Look at your clock. Every 60 seconds, the equivalent of one rubbish truck of plastic leaks into streams and rivers, ultimately ending up in oceans. 100 million marine animals die each year as a result. The rest of that plastic (around 40%) ends up in landfill untouched for 450 years.

 If a company uses recycled plastics and diminishes the production of non-degradable plastic packaging we move towards a circular economy. A regenerative economy of materials that flow in a continuous loop rather than being used one time and then disposed of. This step could save 137 million tons of waste.

sea shipping containers carrying cargo

4) Review your suppliers and how they supply good in 

Businesses need to review how through poor supplier choices, they may be unwittingly securing packaging unethically. Building a more secure business relationship with your suppliers means you have the right to set some ground rules on where you wish to make sustainable packaging improvements. More suppliers these days are looking into ethical practices and by asking suppliers for more recycled content in the materials purchased, you can cut costs and save money.

Large companies often have thousands of suppliers from various sectors and countries, which proposes a major challenge when implementing effective sustainability practices. This abundance of suppliers is most often the primary cause of a company’s carbon footprint. Focus on suppliers that largely contribute to your company’s carbon footprint and see if you can make any alternate arrangements to effectively reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Also, consider reducing the number of suppliers used and where possible choose packaging suppliers that demonstrate certified production and that are close to your factories or warehouses to minimize transportation.

Thank you - For recycling - Packaging can stop climate change

Environmentally friendly packaging is good for the world and also good for business

Companies recognize the importance of a positive environmental image but climate change only begins once you take the first step.  Use One Tribe’s free 6-step guide which assists with an easy transition into sustainability and an achievable one. In line with the United Nations Sustainability Goals. 

By combatting the issues of packaging early or through making proactive amendments to your current packaging schedule, we can produce a swift turn around to combat the damaging effects of poor working practice. 

An environmentally friendly business not only elevates brand reputation but can also create loyalty with customers that lead to better retention rates and repeated sales. If you’re still questioning how to take that first step, the One Tribe team offers business tools for climate change and a 20 step sustainability checklist. 

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