How Can You Tell if Your Packaging is Truly Sustainable?

With so many companies promoting themselves as environmentally friendly, sustainable and working towards a greener future, how can you see the wood for the trees? And what is truly sustainable? 

During the Covid-19 lockdowns, home deliveries boomed and growth has continued. Food deliveries now have one of the largest sectors at 47.2% of the overall delivery market, hitting a staggering £3bn in 2022. But what can companies do to hit their sustainability goals and make sure that customers trust them to deliver? 

Sustainability claims consumers can trust

Avoiding greenwashing or ‘green sheen’ is a must for companies that want their environmental claims to be trusted. Greenwashing occurs when marketing is deceptively used to persuade customers that a company’s policies are environmentally friendly. This misleading behaviour frustrates consumers as they no longer know which green claims to trust.

So how can you tell if a company is truly sustainable?

Firstly, look for companies who use evidence from independent researchers to support their studies. A certification also gives a company prestige as a trusted organisation has supported the company’s environmental claims. 

For packaging companies in particular, consider the lifecycle of the products they produce. With the damaging effects plastic waste has on sea life increasingly coming to light, choose companies who have a positive impact on the planet.

Is paper better than plastic? 

When it comes to packaging, both materials have positives and negatives: plastic is lighter and more durable. The plastic manufacturing process also produces less CO2 than for paper but it is not as recyclable (and very little of it is recycled) and takes years to decompose. Paper is a difficult manufacturing process and is heavier to transport but it is recyclable and compostable, and can be made durable. 

Our verdict – paper is set to be a cut above the rest. With paper fibre composites increasingly replacing plastic packaging, it looks like the future is fibre-based!

Is deforestation a problem? 

The manufacturing process of paper can be ecologically harmful if trees are harvested without replacement. Managed or working forests aim to supply renewable wood by replanting trees at the same rate they are cut down.

European managed forests are currently growing at a rate of around 1500 football pitches a year, and have been for the last 15 years, representing overall growth of around 2% a year. The FSC logo is an indication that the product has been sourced from a managed, and therefore protected forest. They represent a collective responsibility for forests all over the world and are globally recognised as a symbol of accountable stewardship, that companies can reliably be associated with. Look for the label on your packaging product or online when you shop, as wood or paper sourced from FSC managed forests, means that for every tree cut down, another is replanted. 

The PEFC is also an NGO with forestry stewardship, and the go to for smaller managed forests. Although the logo is perhaps not as well recognised, and they don’t tend to set the standard, but merely encourage members to follow a particular structure. 

How can we make it really easy to reach our sustainability goals? 

Here are a few quick changes your business can make to improve sustainability:

  • Buy local
  • Reduce waste. For example, switch to from plastic to paper bubble-wrap
  • Re-use where possible
  • Look for the FSC or PEFC logo when buying paper products
  • Share what you do with your customers

If you’re looking to improve the environmental impact of your packaging, Protega offer innovative solutions. Contact us today to learn about our sustainable packaging products

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