When we think about greening “print,” we often think about books or marketing communications like direct mail. But what about the world of packaging? Because packaging provides the additional functions of shipment and product protection as well as marketing, it brings a host of unique issues far beyond other types of printed materials.
Plus, it’s on the verge of being regulated.
Multichannel Merchant recently noted that regulations such as PAS 2050 (developed in the U.K.) limit, among other things, the impact of packaging on carbon emissions throughout the product lifecycle. The World Resources Institute is now reviewing how to leverage PAS 2050 for the U.S.
This matters so much because “green” packaging is more than about using recycled or earth-friendly materials in the packaging itself. It’s about the entire packaging lifecycle, including distribution and disposal.
For example, have you thought about what happens when packaging doesn’t properly protect the product? Those defective products, often along with their packaging, must be returned to the merchant and replacement goods sent, burning up additional fossil fuels and raw materials on both sides of the return. So while it’s non-intuitive, even packaging strength should be part of any green packaging initiative.
Three Ways to Green Packaging
There are three primary ways to “green” your packaging:
- minimizing the damage risks;
- incorporating appropriate sustainable packaging materials; and
- maximizing the product-to-package ratio (reducing weight and therefore fossil fuels used in shipping).
This can require real forethought and testing. Sure it costs money, but as the world moves toward greater sustainability, regulations on the lifecycle of product packaging is inevitable. So get in and look at the options and do the testing before someone on the outside makes you do it . . . and puts a deadline on it.
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