Sustainable packaging is a big topic; it can take time to know where to start. The fact that “sustainable,” “green and eco-friendly” don’t have clear definitions makes these problems even harder to solve. This is where greenwashing can spread so easily!
So it’s easy to see why it can be hard to find packaging that doesn’t hurt the environment when made or thrown away.
How to define “green”?
For the sake of argument, “environmentally friendly” could be defined as packaging made from a material that can be replaced, renewed, or refilled. Materials that are good for the environment can also break down and leave no harmful chemicals behind. “Eco-friendly” does not always mean “materials.” Packaging engineers often say that sustainability is more than just the materials. As an example, reusability!
The environmental benefits of a box that can be available hundreds of times are very different from those of a box that can only be available once and then biodegrade at home. Reusability is part of sustainability, which means a custom box packaging product can be used more than once, giving it a second life. It can serve its purpose for longer, so less single-use packaging needs to be made. Businesses get different benefits from packaging that customers can reuse over and over than from using cutting-edge materials as part of their sustainability policy.
What kind of packaging material is good for the environment?
The list below is a complete guide to eco-friendly packaging materials, but there are others.
- Pulp from recycled paper (cardboard)
Pulp is a sticky material made from wood fibres. These fibres can come from new trees or old pieces of paper that have been broken up and turned back into pulp. With all the paper products out there, it’s easy to see why recycled paper pulp is a great eco-friendly material for custom printed boxes packaging. Usually, corrugated cardboard or cardstock is made of recycled paper pulp.
- Virgin paper pulp (cardboard)
One of the few bad things about paper pulp is that it can only be recycled so many times before it loses shape. Every time they’re recycled, the tiny wood fibres get shorter and shorter. But we can make the structure stronger by mixing fresh, long wood fibres with the paper pulp. These pure fibres come from trees that have just been cut down. Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certifications show that your packaging was made from paper pulp grown and harvested ethically. This is true whether your packaging is made partly or entirely from new or recycled materials. If that pulp is made from recycled materials, the symbol shows that at least 80% is made from recycled materials. For virgin fibres, the certification shows that the fibres come from trees that are grown sustainably and are managed honestly.
Compostable custom packaging boxes has become more popular because it breaks down without leaving harmful chemicals behind. Most compostable packaging is made from plant-based materials like corn, sugar cane, carrots, and beets. If a package says it can be composted, it should break down in a home compost pile in 180 days or in a commercial facility in 90 days. It can help a brand use a certified and effective form of sustainable packaging.
EU and U.S lawmakers are finally starting to see how useful and profitable hemp is, so it’s finally becoming more popular. The hemp plant’s hurd and cellulose can be used to make a completely biodegradable bioplastic and will break down in a landfill in no more than six months.
Mycelium, the technical name for mushroom roots, is used to hold together agricultural waste used to package mushrooms. The process is seen as very good for the environment. It mixes organic waste with other organic things that don’t need much to grow. It also completely breaks down in nature. Because mushroom custom boxes wholesale packaging has so much potential, Ikea started using it a few years ago. This helped Ikea reduce its carbon footprint and make its boxes much lighter.
Agar is a gelatinous substance that is found in seaweed and algae. This substance can be used in many ways, but the most common is as a vegetarian alternative to gelatin in cooking. But because materials science is getting better and faster, agar from the seaweed and the algae can now be available as glue. It can hold together plant waste which can be mostly corn and wheat. You can thus, make flexible packaging in many different shapes.
- Kraft Paper
Kraft paper, like cardboard, is made from paper pulp. But more types of trees can be used to make kraft paper. In other words, kraft paper can be made from the scraps left over after making pulp from new trees. Also, because the fibres in kraft paper are stronger and have different shapes, “gentler” types of glue can hold the pulp together, making it easier to break down.
Sustainable packaging doesn’t mean starting from scratch:
If your small business wants to use a new kind of packaging that is better for the environment, it’s important to remember that it can be easy. Materials for packaging that are good for the environment, like hemp, seaweed, and mushrooms, will change the industry. But many retailers can’t afford these solutions right now. Remember the humble cardboard box if you need help finding cheap, eco-friendly packaging materials that don’t hurt the environment. More specifically, there is a lot of paper pulp. Every day, several tonnes of new and recycled paper products are made. The infrastructure for making, recycling, and reusing this material works well and is used by almost every industry, both big and small.
To conclude, so, what are eco-friendly materials for packaging? As the above list shows, there are a lot. But using them can be challenging to get what you want. There are reusable, recyclable, biodegradable and compostable packaging materials just a click away. Go and get them now for a friendly packaging work.