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Eco-Friendly Solutions

An Introduction to Sustainable Packaging

This planet’s natural resources are running dangerously low. The reason behind such a discouraging situation is that we are taking more than we are giving back. And, no, plastic islands floating the world oceans don’t count as giving back. The environmentally-conscious people are trying to find solutions that will provide future generations with the same peace of mind that their ancestors used to have. Sustainable packaging might be one of such solutions.

What is Sustainable Packaging?

Most of people think of it as using a recycled grocery bag instead of a plastic one. While that is true, the term actually covers the whole process, and not the final product. It includes:

  • Production
  • Marketing
  • Retail
  • Materials
  • Reusability and
  • Recyclability potential

They are all parts of the sustainable cycle and present the rough idea what sustainable packaging is all about. Above all, the production process has to be energy efficient, using at least a portion of renewable energy or alternative biofuels. Marketing segment should rely only on environmentally friendly media like internet and radio. Most importantly, the materials used for sustainable packaging need to be non-toxic, biodegradable and recyclable. That leads us to the final point. These solutions need to have their reusability potential worked out.

packaging_02

Photo by Richard Masoner via flickr used under the Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic

Aims of Sustainable Packaging

“Roughly speaking, sustainable packaging has three main objectives. It aims to be cost effective, to be functional and to benefit the environment and public health”, claim at a reputed Sydney-based packaging supplies company. “The third objective can only be achieved if the first two are well under way. This is easy to understand, as unless the product is functional, it will hardly attract wider interest, which is then transferred to production costs and the shelf price. If the product costs too much, it will likely pass unnoticed. “

Good Examples

Successful cases of sustainable packaging are not only recognized for the mere idea of sustainability, but also from their innovative and practical design. Examples include a corn starch or sorghum-based pizza box can be composted, or a Toblerone-shaped egg box that uses far less cardboard than the standard boxes. However, although much effort has been made to raise consciousness towards recycling plastic bottles, only 30% of them get actually recycled.

Government Regulations

Sustainable packaging and the rules and procedures that follow it are slowly but surely translated into the legal code. Governments and local communities are introducing sustainability legislations that hope to promote sustainable packaging products by spreading ideas and giving points to organizations that use them. A number of countries and cities offer tax incentives to companies that introduced a sustainable stage in production. Even on a business level, a company is more desirable as a partner if it is known that it is environmentally responsible.

What Future Holds

In the future we can hope to see more sustainable solutions that can be reused immediately, on the spot, with no need for a third party. For example making edible packages or so called, “food wrapped in food” concept, where food is held together by a gelatinous skin made of vegetables, nuts and algae.

The ultimate goal of sustainable packaging is to be useful to all elements of the production cycle. Not just company owners and their employees, but also the world we live in will benefit from it.


Author Bio: If one thing is true about Lillian Connors, her mind is utterly curious. That’s why she can’t resist the urge to embark on a myriad of home improvement projects and spread the word about them. As the Co-Editor at SmoothDecorator, she cherishes the notion that sustainable housing and gardening will not only make us far less dependent on others regarding the dwellings we inhabit and what we eat, but also contribute to our planet being a better place to live on. You can check her out on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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