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What are environmentally friendly ways of packaging products?

These days, there are a variety of options to package and protect your goods for transit. However, it isn't always clear at first look whether a certain kind of packaging is indeed bad for the environment or not.

We may choose packaging that helps maintain things clean and green in order to be decent stewards of this world and conduct good business at the same time. The focus is on sustainability.


What is sustainable packaging?

Recently, many organisations and businesses have heard the need for a clear focus on sustainability as a result of the ominous threat of climate change hanging over us.

One significant issue with eCommerce is how much packaging is wasted. Mountains of rubbish have unnecessarily accumulated in landfills due to decades of reckless usage of non-recyclable packing materials, which are slowly degrading and emitting tonnes of greenhouse gases.

So let's explore the subject of sustainable packaging in depth to see how we can reduce our impact on the environment. An evaluation of the life cycle is the first step.


Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Compost


Start with the material you choose to protect and encapsulate your priceless merchandise for its long journey if you want to be as environmentally friendly as you can with your shipping choices.

There is a tonne of options available, from extremely sustainable to eco-unfriendly. Fortunately for you, we've put together this thorough guide to assist you to understand your packing choices and lessen your carbon footprint.

Let's start by examining the three basic classifications that packaging may fit into recyclable, reusable, and compostable.


Recycling of packaging


Small package shipments frequently use cardboard boxes, moulded pulp forms, and paper-based fillers to travel from point A to point B. Throw the box and its padding in the large recycle bin outside.

This paper is taken to a facility where it is cleaned, bleached, pulped, cooked, strained, cleaned, and reformed. You probably utilise cardboard cartons that contain recycled materials in large quantities.

The fact that the majority, if not all, of recycled and recyclable paper packaging, may totally biodegrade at the conclusion of its cycle adds to its eco-friendliness. It is preferable for this biodegradation to take place in a composting process as opposed to a landfill.

Why? Compared to compost piles, landfills create more of more hazardous methane gas due to their anaerobic atmosphere.


2. Reusable containers


Kegs, glass milk bottles, pallets, shipping containers, gas cylinders, and plastic totes are a few of the more typical types of reusable packaging used in the delivery and shipping industry. This is a key component of the circular economy concept, which strives to eradicate all waste.

These goods are applied in a way that strays from the norm. Smaller local enterprises with their own more intricate delivery and return systems as well as larger freight shipping operations (think pallets and containers) both employ them (think kegs, milk bottles, and plastic totes).

The viability of reusable packaging for routine business-to-consumer shipping rests on the consumers' willingness to return the container their shipment was delivered in. However, the packaging sees heavy usage over the course of its lifespan for the applications where it does work.

It must be thrown away or recycled if that is an option when it is no longer useful. Reusable packaging is probably more cost-effective in the long term, while being initially more expensive.


3. Compostable packaging


Types of sustainable packaging

(1) Corrugated cardboard

Over 90% of all products in the US are sent using cardboard, thus it seems obvious that it should be at the top of this list. There are many benefits to using cardboard boxes for transportation, including its remarkable reusability, wide range of uses, and cost-effectiveness.

The use of cardboard has advantages and disadvantages. Although a large portion of it is made of recycled paper, it is also made from trees (from sustainably managed forests) which requires a significant amount of energy and water to process. Fortunately, up to 100% of the materials used to make boxes can be recycled.

As long as they maintain their shape, cardboard boxes can be reused a lot, extending their useful life. In addition, they can be recycled up to 25 times before being composted or discarded. In the event that it can be composted as opposed to dumped in a landfill, the overall methane emissions will be greatly decreased.


2.Packing paper


You are prepared to pack your recycled box at this point. Without a doubt, you must cushion your goods to stop it from rattling and breaking. You employ one of a multitude of choices available in the world of void fill to fill that space between the product and the box (aptly named). Void fill is a filler substance used to seal off the empty area in your shipping box and secure the contents. The material of choice for this is paper.

You can purchase thick rolls of kraft paper that you can manually roll into soft balls and place tactically around your goods. Additionally, you can purchase paper shreds to create a nice nest of protection for your merchandise. Tissue paper is available for your more fragile things, which you can carefully wrap around those porcelain and glass trinkets.

The last option is machine-managed paper packaging, where a noisy robot crushes kraft paper or inflates paper bubble wrap to speed up and improve the efficiency of your packing.

Paper packaging is compostable and highly recyclable (an especially good option if your city has a composting program). The packaging is frequently reusable as well.


3. Durable plastic containers

Plastic tubs are a very sustainable packaging solution for firms that can construct the intricate distribution and return system necessary for consumer adoption, even though it is unrealistic for the majority of eCommerce businesses.

Community supported agriculture (CSA) initiatives are one kind of enterprise that can and do use plastic tubs successfully. Customers may easily make returns because they are based locally and have a reliable distribution network.

Larger organisations can also utilise plastic tubs internally to transport goods to and from distribution centres and retail sites.

Although plastic tubs initially cost more, their cost decreases over the course of their use. The same is true of their sustainability; provided they have a long lifespan, plastic tubs can replace a lot of cardboard boxes that might only be used once before being recycled using energy-intensive technology.


4. Mushrooms Packaging

Mushroom packaging, a result of thinking beyond the box, is still in its infancy. A form of protective padding that is completely compostable can be made by growing the mushroom's root system, or mycelium, into the desired shape and baking it to become inert.

Its replacement of polystyrene packaging, which overflows our trash bins and lasts much too long, is one of its more obvious and interesting applications. Grow-your-own light shades, thermal insulation, and building materials are excellent additional uses.

Ikea is one significant business that has led the way in using it for product packaging.


5. Mailers made of compost

A heavy word, compostable. As was already noted, certain materials can only be composted on a professional scale, while others can simply be thrown out with the rest of your kitchen trash by the garden. The good news is that whether it can be composted at home or in a commercial setting will be made explicit on the package.

Materials used in compostable mailers range. Some are produced from plant materials that can be composted both commercially and at home, like maize husks and straw (these are bioplastics, covered below). Others are formed of recycled paper goods, which are best processed by industrial composting.

Sendle now offers home compostable pouches comprised of polylactide and maize starch (made from corn and other plant waste, and PBAT). When you ship it, worms turn it into excellent meal!


6. Biodegradable packing peanuts

Polystyrene, a plastic contaminant that is not biodegradable or recyclable, has traditionally been used to make packing peanuts. In response to these negative environmental effects, starch-based packing peanuts first appeared in the 1990s.

These environmentally friendly alternatives are created using non-toxic plant materials like corn starch and grain sorghum. The waste footprint of this more modern type of packing peanut is vanishingly little because it is fully biodegradable and dissolves in water.


No. 7 Popcorn

You read that correctly; popping corn

Some sellers have made the decision to use the bulk bins at their neighbourhood grocery shop as their own sustainable packaging solution.

You may create a lightweight void fill that will safeguard your priceless items from all the jarring they encounter during transportation by air-popping the corn (leave the oil out of this). Keep in mind, though, that heavier goods might not perform as well.

Your client can just throw the popcorn in the compost once it has travelled. Although it might seem wonderful, we do not advise eating any packaging.

Popcorn might not be a choice if you are sending internationally. Make sure you research that one's customs regulations.


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