small business packaging

08.01.2019

marketing  |  4 min read

How to choose the right sustainable packaging for your product

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Chester Avey

It has become increasingly important for businesses to think about their attitude when it comes to the environment and the green movement. Being sustainable is not only important for the planet, but it can also make a big difference in how your organization is perceived by everyone from its customers to employees and even suppliers.

And the fact is, demand is growing for businesses to use sustainable packaging for their products. 57 % of global internet users would pay more for sustainable products, and this includes how the product is packaged and shipped. There is something of a war being waged on single-use products and unnecessary plastics currently, and customers expect the businesses they buy from to do what they can to alter their packaging so that it is sustainable.

In this article, we take a look at how you can choose better sustainable packaging for your products, and investigate what you can do to find packaging that is not only going to impress your customers, but also be right for you.

Packaging designed for your product

The first thing to note is that you should be choosing sustainable packaging that has been specifically designed for the product that you are looking to sell. Choosing an item just because it is sustainable, but ignoring whether it is the right thing to be putting your product in, is completely the wrong move – you need select packaging that has been designed for the job it is going to do.

For example, if you sell any kind of food product it can be necessary to have a degassing valve or a zip-lock. Failing to have these measures can affect the shelf life or the quality of the product once it is delivered. And while having sustainable or biodegradable packaging will impress customers, ultimately the quality of the product will make the biggest difference.

The lesson here is that you should not simply opt for packaging because it is sustainable, but ensure that effectiveness is part of the criteria for choice.

Don’t compromise on quality

Sometimes when businesses switch up to sustainable options it can cause problems because the new products are not as effective as they were previously. For example, under mounting pressure over the use of single-use plastic straws, McDonald’s recently changed over to paper versions. However, there has been an outcry that the straws are not suitable with some of the products.

This brings us to a key point in that it is important when selecting your sustainable packaging, you don’t compromise on the quality that your customers expect from you. Yes, choosing sustainable packaging can be beneficial but you need to spend time sourcing packaging that offers the same quality that your previous packaging had.

Make sure it is sustainable

It should be noted here that many packaging products make the claim to be eco-friendly or sustainable, but sometimes you'll need to do a great deal of research into the reality of the situation before you can commit to it. There have been examples of packaging products that claim sustainability but cause equally damaging problems.

For example, some packaging that describes itself as biodegradable is only biodegradable in very specific circumstances, and if they are not put in this position, they just become effectively something that goes in general waste. In some cases, packaging that can be reused or recycled can be better than biodegradable options that don’t work properly. The key thing to note here is that you should do your research into the packaging before you commit to it.

The reality of your product

It is important to consider the practicalities of the products that you are selling and how this is going to affect the packaging. One famous example of a sustainability issue is that of pizza boxes. These boxes are made from cardboard and are theoretically entirely recyclable – however, if melted cheese gets stuck to the material it can become impossible to recycle the boxes.

Make sure that you take some time to consider how your product is going to affect the packaging and whether this has repercussions for the sustainability of the packaging.


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