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8 Strategies to Make Your Packaging More Sustainable

The majority of packaging decisions you make include trade-offs, and sustainability decisions are no exception. The good news is that starting points are frequently simple.


The sustainability tactics discussed in this essay begin reasonably easy and get increasingly difficult with a greater impact. It all comes down to starting where you can and making the best decisions for your business and your clients.

Strategies of design

The simplest place to start is with design updates because they frequently involve fewer stakeholders and less significant supply chain modifications.


1. Reduce packing.

Fewer components in your package suite mean less waste, less space in transportation, and less disposal work for the consumer. Use as little packaging as possible to properly ship your product when creating your unboxing experience.


2. Disseminate top disposal and recycling techniques

Whenever you share disposal techniques, identifying your materials comes first. Compared to instructing clients on how to recycle materials, it is a more scalable solution. Why? While recycling regulations differ significantly from city to city, your material information does not. Customers can research the most effective local recycling options once they are aware of the items. You can use a recycling symbol to signify the materials in your packaging (if the material is recyclable). Use an unnumbered symbol for paper and a numbered symbol for plastic; the numbers denote various types of plastic resin, each of which can be recycled to varying degrees.


The phrase "curbside recyclable in most cities" or "dropoff recyclable in most cities" can be added to your emblem if you want to go further. Because curbside pickup is so common, including "Please recycle" on paper packaging is useful, but since the majority of plastics aren't as readily accepted, it could be misleading.


You could also add a link or QR code to a page on your website that breaks down disposal information for each piece of your packaging to provide them with a more individualised experience. Give individuals some reuse suggestions, if possible. This is a fantastic approach to reduce your customer's disposal burden and increase your own sense of social responsibility and client loyalty.


3. Send in a more compact package

Reduced shipping expenses, material costs, resource use, and emissions are reduced as the package is transported to the client and shipping warehouse.


There are typically two methods for selecting packing sizes. One tactic is to optimise for different product assortments by using a wide variety of sizes. Another tactic is to use a limited number of packing sizes that are one size fits all.


Based on your product line and order trends, choose a strategy. Examine your existing packaging dimensions to determine how much air you are sending (unused space). From there, try to reduce the height of your containers by a few inches or try switching your optimization tactics.

Material Strategies

Although material strategies delve a little further into your supply chain, there is no need to make significant changes to your material. Consider your options and the potential effects of a material shift on your packaging.

4. Do not combine materials.

Because the layers cannot be distinguished during sorting, when paper and plastic, or even two different types of plastic, are fused together, they are no longer recyclable. Limit your use of packaging to items made completely of paper or a single type of plastic.


It should be noted that paper that has modest amounts of mixed materials stacked on it (such as paper strengthened with fibreglass strands or boxes sealed with plastic tape) can still be recycled.


5. Make reduced use of virgin materials

The longer materials can be used, the better. You need fewer new resources from the world when you utilise more recycled materials, whether they are made of plastic or paper.


6. Make use of products that can be recycled at the curb

Knowing what your clients can recycle locally might be challenging because curbside recycling options vary from city to city. It is imperative that we avoid wishful recycling and adhere to each city's regulations given that China is no longer receiving the majority of our recyclables. When 50% of Americans have access to curbside recycling, Lumi considers a product to be curbside recyclable.


The best option is paper, which is accepted almost everywhere that allows curbside recycling. Curbside availability becomes problematic when it comes to plastic. In general, plastic is more generally accepted curbside the stiffer it is (milk jugs, soda bottles). Conversely, there are fewer curbside options for thinner plastics (such as poly mailers and single-use plastic shopping bags). That's a result of thinner films getting stuck in processing equipment, which leads to a backup and, eventually, a shutdown while the equipment is cleaned out. Fortunately, many communities have drop-off spots for thin plastics at practical places like supermarkets.


In the United States, you can find nearby dropoffs by using the Plastic Film Recycling directory.


7. Try alternative materials

We can lessen our dependency on fossil fuels by using a wide range of innovative renewable materials, including bioplastics. These alternative materials might have interesting, one-of-a-kind qualities like compostability or biodegradability. These materials are frequently more expensive because there are fewer of them available, but as more businesses begin to utilise them, pricing will decrease as supply increases to match demand.

Manufacturing Strategies

We're now reaching the fundamental issue: factories. There are some direct questions you can ask Lumi or your packaging partner to learn more about the environmental impact of your packaging before it even reaches your warehouse. Visibility at manufacturers is frequently limited (we're building tools at Lumi to help with this!).


8. Make preparations to avoid air freight

According to MIT, air freight shipments release up to 47 times more emissions than ocean freight. Check the lead times for your products to avoid using air freight, and make plans to send your final design a few days prior to the required order date for Standard Delivery. This gives enough time for any last-minute modifications and proof approval.


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