Sustainable Packaging Design Lowers Packaging Costs and Footprint

11.20.18 // Heritage Paper

Our customers often ask what they can do to reduce their packaging footprint or improve the sustainability of their packaging. In fact, several projects currently underway in our design center are focused on that very goal: sustainable packaging design.

Concerns about sustainability in general and the connection between lowering costs while reducing packaging footprints are common issues that we deal with every day.

One of the main factors driving such intense and alarming concern is the sheer amount of virtually indestructible plastic that’s accumulating both on land and in the oceans. PBS NewsHour recently launched a series investigating this issue with their video presentation, Plastic lasts more than a lifetime, and that’s the problem.

Following are a few sustainable packaging design recommendations that will help you reduce your packaging impact on the environment and your packaging costs in the process.

Look at the number of materials used

If you’re using more than three basic materials in any one form of packaging, that might be a sure sign of poor design which can also lead to excessive costs.

For example, a plastic tray, bag, sleeve, and carton together suggests an opportunity to redesign for SKU reduction that could gain some cost savings in the process. Using so many types of materials may even reduce the recyclability of the packaging as a whole, thereby negatively impacting your sustainability goals.

From 7 to 3: look for redundant packaging

We recently managed a kit project that included two die-cut inserts, one die-cut tray, a chip carton, two chip sleeves, and a shipping mailer. Thoughtful and innovative redesign reduced this kit from seven components to just three. Examine your packaging for similar opportunities and you’ll quickly make great strides toward your sustainability goals.

Evaluate the recycled content of your packaging components

You may need some assistance from your packaging supplier to help identify how much recycled content your packaging components actually contain. Taking this important step also helps you make a significant impact toward achieving your sustainability goals.

Look for materials that are bonded together

Some materials are easy to recycle while others are not, but especially when two different materials are bonded together.

For example, when a soft-touch film is laminated to a chipboard carton, then the entire package is unrecyclable. Or, for two vastly different materials such as foam corners glued into corrugated inserts to have any chance of being recycled, the end user must separate them. And if separating materials isn’t easy, then even the most environmentally-conscientious consumer won’t give a second thought to tossing all of the packaging into the waste can.

Reexamine your packaging graphics

You can significantly improve sustainability by evaluating paper substrates especially on higher-end printed packaging, and by selecting environmentally-friendly inks.

Consider as well if you’re sending out litho laminated boxes to online customers who already know and have purchased your brand. Take a moment to ask yourself, could a simpler variation of the graphics be printed on higher recycled content substrates or even kraft material work just as well?

If your goal is sustainable packaging design, there are definite steps that you can take to reach your goals. However, it takes time to properly evaluate what you’re currently using and determine how you can best reduce your packaging footprint.

Contact us today to find out more about how you can take advantage of sustainable packaging design for the sake of your business and the environment.

Take the First Step

Let’s talk about how we can optimize your entire packaging supply chain with impactful custom packaging design, fulfillment and equipment solutions.