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3 mistakes to avoid when manufacturing sustainable packaging

07/20/20214 minutes

Corrugated packaging

Corrugated Paper

Corrugated Testing

Metal packaging

3 mistakes to avoid when manufacturing sustainable packaging

Sustainability is big business right now. Nielsen predicted that by 2021, consumers could be spending up to $150 billion on sustainable products, driving gains in everything from resource management to product packaging.

Consumer trends show that customers are clearly prioritizing sustainability when making a purchase. Unsurprisingly, this has some pretty huge ramifications on how businesses operate – and in particular, how they handle their packaging.

Reputationally, packaging has a massive impact on brand perception. So, it’s no surprise that it ends up under the spotlight when it comes to sustainability drives. But how does this impact business decisions? And what effect does this have on packaging manufacturers and the processes they need to follow?

We’ve had a look at how organizations are pivoting their approach to packaging to meet sustainability targets. And we also explored some of the biggest pitfalls that businesses and manufacturers should be avoiding in the quest to go green.

1. Loudly promising the earth, silently making the same mistakes

It’s easy to make grand promises. Keeping them is a little harder. Brands often make big statements about going green, but when you’re dealing with the realities of a packaging production line, things can get complicated.

For example, a company may be interested in moving away from plastic bottles and introducing a paper alternative. However, if you end up choosing a “paper” bottle that isn’t made from 100% paper materials, it’s important to disclose this detail to your potential consumers up front. Otherwise, the reputational backlash could be huge.

Consumers are increasingly savvy when it comes to packaging– we actually spoke about this in our report on quality control in beer packaging, you can take a look at this here.

Social media allows for any type of “greenwashing” efforts by brands to be quickly identified and called out. If a business is making an effort to be sustainable, but the logistics aren’t quite in place yet, it’s important to be transparent.

Shifting your manufacturing processes to accommodate new materials can take time. And ensuring all relevant quality control and testing processes are set up effectively should be your number one priority. So, getting this right before communicating changes around sustainable packaging is key.

2. Making a switch that sounds good on paper – but doesn’t fulfil its objective

In the search for sustainability, there are plenty of potential wrong turns that sounded like they were the right move.

Look no further than the adoption of plastic straws in 2018. Many companies around the globe began eliminating plastic straws from their businesses – a great initiative on paper. However, an unforeseen consequence of this was that some of the paper alternatives brought in to replace traditional plastic straws were actually less recyclable than the plastic ones.

This is a prime example of a seemingly sensible move that needed more planning, testing, and consideration. The importance of ensuring your packaging properties have been fully investigated and thoroughly tested can never be underestimated.

In short, every time a new sustainability concern comes along, it’s better to do thorough research than react instinctively.

3. Valuing recyclability over efficiency

While including recyclable materials in your product packaging is a positive move when you’re aiming to be more sustainable, it’s important to keep the bigger picture in mind.

For example, companies and private sellers that deliver products through the mail often over-package, putting a pre-boxed item in a second box, and sometimes even a third one. This practice, sometimes called the “Russian doll” approach, is exceptionally wasteful.

Using multiple forms of packaging for one product (even if it’s recyclable) adds more waste. Instead, finding ways to improve the efficiency of your supply chain, packaging, and delivery options will be more fruitful in ensuring your company’s overall carbon footprint and emission rate is as low as possible.

Sometimes, using a small amount of plastic is actually more environmentally friendly than a large amount of glass or paper that requires more effort and fossil fuel consumption to ship the product.

Sustainable packaging requires first-rate testing

As the global battle against climate change moves forward, striving to introduce more eco-friendly packaging has to be a top priority for businesses. But at the same time, the importance of effective quality control within packaging simply cannot be ignored on the road to change.

At Industrial Physics, it’s our purpose to protect the integrity of our customer’s brands and products. And we do this by providing trusted test and inspection solutions that allow you to ensure the quality of your packaging.

We provide testing instruments across a range of different application and material types. If you’d like to find out more about the solutions we have available, get in touch to speak with our team.

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