What are the features packaging must have to be sustainable?
We increasingly hear talk of “sustainable packaging”, “green packaging”, “circular packaging”: a series of concepts linked to the idea of packaging with low environmental impact
Packaging plays an essential role in the product protection process: its task is to preserve its own content, to maintain its organoleptic properties in the case of foodstuffs or, in general to protect it on its journey to end consumers.
Together with an additional key role in product promotion, nowadays it also assumes an ethical role and is called to react to current issues related to environmental, social, and economic sustainability.
One of the main innovations in the development of eco- packaging solutions is the use of raw materials from renewable and biodegradable sources. Among these, not only paper and cardboard play a significant role: from bio-based raw materials of plant origin, such as bioplastics, to nanomaterials, the aim is to ensure the creation of a ‘”circular” – recyclable or compostable – product that is an efficient alternative to traditional plastic.
Packaging is often described as the environment’s worst “enemy” because it becomes waste immediately after use. Nowadays manufacturers are engaged in developing innovative solutions to limit the environmental impact of packaging at the end of its life: the aim is transforming it from waste into a useful resource.
But what are the features packaging must have to be sustainable?
It is made of recyclable, compostable or biodegradable materials
It is aimed at minimizing CO2 emissions and and optimizing overall environmental performance
It is designed with a weight and a volume limit that would nevertheless ensure the health and safety of consumers
It is simple to be disposed of and provide consumers with all relevant information for its recycling
It is conceived to have a second life after its use.
The use of symbols, icons, and logos to help consumers recognize the nature of the materials of which the pack is made, indicate its environmental performance, and suggest how to responsibly and properly handle its end-of-life. End-consumers demand this because for 41% of them, packaging is the first sustainability factor on which the brand reputation is built.
Sustainability is therefore a decisive driver in influencing consumers’ purchasing choices, that’s why the packaging industry is more and more investing in research & development and in technological innovation to make packaging increasingly eco-sustainable.