After the release of Blue Planet, eco-friendliness and sustainability has been the most prominent talking point in the packaging world, and it’s not going away anytime soon. Inciting the demand and creation of new products, and forcing companies and manufacturers to take a look at their operations and make changes, the eco-friendly movement is only just beginning. As awareness grows and we realise more and more how we need to reduce our impact on the environment, make greener choices and take steps towards creating a cleaner, healthier planet, it can be daunting to know where to start.
We know how important it is to make environmentally friendly decisions around packaging and materials, but how do we begin? Through small changes, you and your company can make a big impact on the environment and your actions can pave the way to a greener, more sustainable future. Here are 5 actionable tips that you can implement to get you started on your eco-friendly journey.
- Ditch the plastic
It is no secret that people and businesses are doing all they can to reduce single use plastic and are taking steps to eradicate plastic entirely. By 2050 it is expected that there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish (by weight), and it’s up to us to try and turn things around. Going plastic free can be easier than you think and with the plastic packaging tax coming into place in 2022, it’s in your company’s best interests to start making those changes now. With lots of paper and cardboard based products on the market that offer the same benefits of plastic without the planet damaging effect, it’s time to take a look at the packaging we use and how we can make simple swaps that add up to a massive change. Swap your poly mailers for paper mailing bags, plastic packing tape to a paper based tape, or your bubble wrap for a packing paper alternative, to quickly put your operation on a greener path.
- Know your recycling symbols
Sometimes with packaging, it’s not that simple to just ditch the plastic entirely; there are some packaging choices that just don’t have plastic free alternatives yet. So, if you do need to use it, be sure you know how to correctly dispose of it so it doesn’t end up with the other 8 million metric tonnes of plastic in the ocean. Learning what recycling symbols mean, how to sort and separate your plastics, and how to dispose of them is so important. When it comes to plastic, education is key, so be sure to clue up on plastic recycling and pass that information on to your customers too. There is only so much that suppliers and retailers can do, so ensuring the end user knows how to dispose of their packaging when they’re finished with it, can make a real difference; branding your packaging with eco markers can be an effective way to do this.
It is also important to know how to correctly dispose of paper and cardboard products, ensuring they end up in the right disposal stream means they will go towards creating more cardboard and paper products, and not just decompose in the rubbish tip. If you have a larger operation that acquires lots of waste cardboard, recycling in-house could be a great option. Machinery like cardboard shredders give your waste cardboard a second use as protective packaging within your operation, whilst reducing the number of recycling collections you will need, or possibly eliminating them entirely.
- Take steps towards reducing your carbon footprint
We’ve all heard about our carbon footprint and how we need to take steps towards reducing it, but what does that really mean? To be carbon neutral, you need to counteract carbon emissions with carbon removal to achieve net zero. Lowering your carbon footprint can be achieved in both the packaging you choose and the actions you take. For instance, turning off lights and taps when not in use, enrolling your company in a cycle to work scheme, or setting timer plugs on appliances to office hours only, can have a positive impact on your carbon footprint. Choosing packaging that is made carbon neutrally and opting for a carbon neutral courier, such as DPD, can set you on the path to net-zero emissions. For your business to go completely carbon neutral you may want to look into offsetting remaining carbon by investing in a cause or programme that actively reduces global carbon emissions. But in the meantime, ensuring you are composting and recycling as much as possible, turning down the thermostat and making considered packaging choices, you can start making a difference to your carbon footprint.
- Reduce packaging waste
You may think that going green has to mean large scale changes, but that’s not true. The simplest way you can help to reduce your impact on the environment is to reduce packaging waste within your operation. With a rubbish truck worth of waste being dumped into oceans every minute, lowering the amount of waste your company produces can be a big stepping stone towards becoming more eco-friendly. With emphasis being on the three R’s – reduce, reuse, recycle – it’s important to make packaging purchasing decisions that keep waste to an absolute minimum. There are many innovative packaging products out there that can help you minimise waste, increase despatch efficiency, and even save you some money. We can’t stress enough that small changes make a big impact. Simply changing from standard fefco 0201 packing boxes to instant bottom boxes, can help reduce void fill and packing tape, dramatically reducing waste whilst also saving you precious time during the packing process.
- Look out for new eco-friendly solutions
You may not have an eco solution for all your packaging needs right now, but new, innovative eco packaging products are being discovered and manufactured every day. Choosing a supplier who keeps on top of the latest eco trends and offers as many eco-friendly alternatives as possible is a great place to start. By keeping an eye on the up and coming eco-friendly packaging innovations, you’ll have an eco alternative to all your packaging favourites in no time.
Going green and ensuring your operation and business if as eco-friendly as possible doesn’t need to be difficult. Taking small steps, having a genuine interest in the sustainability of the packaging you use, and encouraging your staff and employees to take action too, can go a really long way; and there’s no better time to start than now.
Contributor: Priory Direct