Sustainable packaging: What it is, why you need it, and how to choose the best option

Sustainability has become one of the fundamental aspects of a good business. Companies are increasingly becoming aware of their potentially negative impact on the environment and, consequently, have started implementing procedures that seek to alleviate this burden. It’s not as simple as it might seem, as environmentalism requires considerable changes. However, by achieving environmental goals, businesses can be sure that they’re doing everything in their power to reduce their carbon footprint, reduce or even eliminate the greenhouse gases they release in the atmosphere, and protect wildlife diversity and human health as well. 

One of the areas that are often overlooked across different businesses is packaging. While sustainable ingredients or materials for products typically take centre stage, packaging isn’t considered nearly so often. And that’s a problem because all parts of a product should be eco-friendly for it to be considered green. Here are some of the tips you can use to ensure you meet the standards for sustainable packaging within your own company. 


Making your packaging completely recyclable means that customers can reuse it for something else or that it can be disposed of in a safe manner so that it will be repurposed. Doing so reduces the need to source raw materials every time. This is especially important for plastics, which are famously sturdy and can take hundreds of years if not more, to degrade. However, plastic disintegrates into tiny pieces known as microplastics throughout the process. Discussions around this material have been rife among environmentalists and activists, given that microplastics can enter the human body, causing side effects that, although not yet completely understood, are certainly not beneficial. 

If you can, you should make the switch to biodegradable materials, as they’re fundamentally greener. For instance, you can choose block bottom bags, suitable for all types of items, including food. The bags’ interior is lined with greaseproof paper, and they’re easy to close with a simple stapler or envelope seal. Their capacity depends and can range from 50 to 500 ml. These bags can also be used as part of the product display in your store, especially if they have windows. They also make a great storage option for herbs, nuts, or various types of candy. 

Green plastics 

There’s quite a lot of controversy surrounding the concept of green plastic, and that includes packaging made from this material. First of all, it’s still uncertain what characteristics eco-friendly plastic must have. For instance, saying these plastics should be biobased means that the polymers created from oil are also green plastic, although there’s nothing sustainable about them. And while some believe this is a legitimate revolution in the business world, others remain unconvinced and confident that the Earth’s plastic problem won’t be solved this way. 

There are several types of biodegradable plastics, including: 

  • Bioplastics: Also known as biologically synthesised plastics, they are made from plants, such as starches and cellulose, as well. If extensively modified, cellulose can become thermoplastic, like in the case of cellulose acetate. Yet, due to the high costs, this material is rarely used for packaging. 
  • Petroleum-based: Although it sounds like an oxymoron, considering everyone knows that petroleum-based plastics like polyethylene terephthalate, polypropylene, polystyrene and polyethene aren’t biodegradable, some petroleum derivatives are. Polybutylene adipate terephthalate, PBAT for short, shows 90% degradation after eighty days. 
  • Compostable: Plastics that can be composted are generally made from polylactic acid, a dextrose produced by plants. At the moment, the most common source for this is corn, but as the industry develops, other plants might also be used in the future. But for this plastic to actually be biodegradable, composting conditions must be met accordingly. 

Even if certain types of plastic are greener, they must still be disposed of so as not to harm the environment, such as by ending up in the ocean and hurting marine life. 

Reduce the surplus

Overpackaging is a serious problem across the business environment, and it can add considerable strain on waste management and the world. By using, you can guarantee you’ll find a wide variety of packages, so you can fit something that fits the product’s size and shape. Doing so means you avoid placing a small item in an overly large box. However, there are several things to consider here as well. 

For instance, gift wrapping, which is also a type of packaging, frequently involves excess packaging. However, that is primarily because traditions and the customer’s personal tastes are taken into account. Luxury packaging is another example. Here, brand managers and retailers claim that offering premium packaging is an integral part of the experience of purchasing a luxury product. 

Decorative boxes are a separate art form that generally exceeds the utilitarian purposes of packaging. In the case of fragile objects, sellers can justify overpackaging by saying the product must reach the buyer in mint condition. Indeed, delivering goods that arrive at the destination broken, ripped or otherwise defective will most likely affect brand reputation and negatively influence the customer base numbers. 

So, are there no ways to avoid overpackaging or remove it from your company altogether? Of course not. 

  • Using the suitable void-fill material is one of the first steps, as protective packaging is one of the most significant contributors to the problem. It all depends on the type of the object. If it’s delicate, bubble wrap is the best, but it should only cushion the product itself. For items that aren’t breakable, paper will likely offer sufficient buffer. 
  • Top sealing reduces the amount of packaging you use as well, and you only need to use one strip to create the seal. 
  • Water-activated tape provides a stronghold, on top of being 100% recyclable, thereby not contributing to added waste.

Having an environmentally friendly business can be challenging sometimes, as there are many aspects you need to consider. Although packaging isn’t always discussed in this context, entrepreneurs need to be aware of the changes they need to perform in order to achieve sustainability standards. Complying with environmentalism demands will also improve your reputation among your target clientele and make it more likely that they’ll choose your brand over those of competitors.