Sustainable Packaging Trends and Themes

12.27.16 // Heritage Paper

Sustainable packaging has evolved from the notion, brought on by the environmental movement of the 1970s, that businesses and people ought to have a mission and purpose other than simply to make a profit. This has evolved over the years to the point where most businesses feel uncomfortable ignoring questions related to its carbon footprint. Hence, they are focusing on how to better influence people’s lives and the health of the planet. Research by journalists (as well as Chief Financial Officers) suggests that this trend not only makes social but also economic sense — as adopting sustainable solutions can lead to cost savings that bolster the bottom line. Further, consumers are demanding more products that reflect their own environmentally friendly lifestyles.

Main Themes in Packaging

Companies will look for ways to use sustainable packaging to reduce costs and protect their bottom line, especially with a sluggish economy which economists predict has a 25 percent chance of double-dipping back into recession. Brand enhancement, consumer awareness and minimizing the total packaging system costs are just a few benefits of going “green.” By using sustainable packaging products, companies show not only social responsibility but also respect for the environment and the future. If companies can reduce their energy costs by 1 percent or 2 percent a year, that makes a substantial difference to their overall profitability. Another thing companies will look to do is reduce waste. Even a minute reduction in the amount of plastic used to make a package, or the amount of scrap material left on the cutting room floor, can lead to big results. Companies often implement sustainable packaging practices to eliminate wasted materials and unnecessary effort. Walmart, for example, one of the world’s largest and most cost-conscious companies, has been a leader in these efforts. It aims to reduce packaging costs by 5 percent in its supply-chain by 2013.

Consumers Are Demanding Sustainable Packaging

Even with the recent recession, there is still a considerable segment of consumers that has the buying power and the willingness to pay more for sustainable packaging products. Younger consumers are especially likely to be environmentally conscious – they will reach first for packaging that is sustainable. In the current economic climate there is growing concern about human impact on the environment and the trend in package design will be toward clean, efficient, and safe—yet still thoughtfully presented and appealing—packaging.

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