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Sustainable packaging is sensible packaging

Sustainable packagingsensible packaging

Many consumers today are quite environmentally conscious and will opt for one product over another simply because it is made from sustainable packaging. A commitment to using sustainable materials in packaging could greatly enhance a company's reputation and profits

This piece was created by Adrian Bracken on behalf of Bracken Foam Fabricators.

Case studies

Apple is a prime example of a global brand which is committed to packaging sustainability.
Between the last 2 generations of iPhones, the packaging used for the product has decreased in weight by 34%.
The product itself has also become lighter over time. The iPhone 7, unveiled in 2016, weighs 20% less than the inaugural iPhone, which was launched in 2007.

Source: Packaging News

Coca-Cola has also been proactive in favouring lightweight packaging during 2016.
its 20oz PET plastic bottle was reduced in weight by more than 25% from January to October.
Its 12oz aluminium can was made 30% lighter.
Its 8oz glass bottle was reduced in weight by more than 50% over the course of the year.


Packaging sustainability trends

Clear labelling which shows how to property dispose of or recycle packaging in the proper way
Promotion of active commitments to sustainability (e.g. partnerships with non-governments organisations)
Continued shift toward lighter packaging
Increased usage of post-consumer recycled content in packaging
Full transparency in claims made about the sustainability of a product's packaging
Increased usage of bare minimum packaging, especially for products being shipped after online purchase.

Properties of sustainability

Minimal quantities of packaging materials

Use of resilient materials which can recover from compressions and impacts to be suitable for reuse

Use of recyclable, low density materials in manufacturing

Use of renewable energy in the sourcing and transportation of the packaging

Meets market criteria for performance and cost

Manufactured using clean production technologies and best environmental practices

Examples of unsustainable packaging

Snack chip bags with several layers of foil and plastic

Blended material on toothpaste tubes (also hard to recycle due to leftover toothpaste inside the tube

Single-serving foods contained in hard-to-recycle plastic containers, e.g. yogurt

Enclosing a boxed item bought online within multiple other boxes many of these also use polystyrene, which is not sustainable material

Pizza boxes with food stuck to the cardboard, rendering it non-recyclable

Examples of sustainable materials
in packaging

Polyethylene (PE) foam

Fully reusable and recyclable

Inexpensive and readily available

Very customizable - many different mould shapes can be created in the manufacturing process

Good cushioning properties from closed cell structure

Protects from moisture and water damage

Protects from oil-based and corrosive solvents

Polyethylene (PE) foam

Home compostable


Customisable to fit specific products


Not derived from petroleum of food

How to ensure sustainability

incorporate sustainable packaging practices as a core element of each step in the packaging process

Set sustainability targets and monitor progress to determine if targets are being met

Train staff to perform their jobs in a manner which promotes sustainability

Educate staff as to their responsibilities for contributing towards an environmentally friendly workplace

Communicate all sustainable practices to shareholders and customers so that they are aware of this commitments to sustainability

Renew sustainable operations periodically to assess if such practices are working, or to identify how they can be improved


cdf1.com/packaging-trends-for-2016-sustainability-still-rules/ packagingdigest.com/sustainable-packaging/4-sustainable-packaging-drivers-in-2016-2016-01-14 trayak.com/2016-sustainable-packaging-trends/ sustainablepackaging.org/uploads/Documents/Definition%20of%20Sustainable%20Packaging.pdf theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2014/jul/18/good-product-bad-package-plastic-recycle-mistakes alcotplastics.com/benefits-of-using-polyethylene-foam-for-packaging-and-transportation/blog.html sealedair.com/sustainability


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  • Modified 15 Jun 2017
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