More people today are aware of the negative impact their purchasing habits have on the environment. The damage to the environment caused by use-and-toss packaging is evident for all to see. From ecosystems at risk to rising temperatures caused by an increasingly depleting ozone layer, the destruction caused by waste and felled trees is threatening the very survival of humankind.
You can stem this slide into environmental degradation by adopting zero-waste packaging, which refers to a scenario where all of a product’s packaging materials are used up, recycled, or reused. The goal of zero-waste packaging is to ensure there’s no waste left after a product is consumed.
The race to a zero-waste economy is on. While it’s not an event that implies absolute zero waste, every little effort towards this ultimate goal is a step in the right direction. From biodegradable packaging products to edible packaging, zero waste is achievable if we all play our role.
Check out these nine environmentally friendly zero waste packaging ideas:
1. Use Biodegradable Materials
Some time ago, a supermarket in Thailand went viral when it started using banana leaves instead of plastic to package its products. The beauty of this approach is that banana leaves are not only biodegradable, but they also produce unique designs that customers love.
Nowadays, there are many eco friendly packaging materials available in Canada, the United States, and countries around the world. As we strive towards a more environmentally friendly world, you can expect a lot of businesses to use biodegradable materials in their operations.
2. Use Reusable Plastic Pallets
While the quest for absolute zero waste packaging may be more of a goal to aim for than a practical reality, any effort towards the use of reusable and recyclable packaging is a step closer to that goal. Where the use of recyclable plastic pallets is unavoidable, manufacturers should provide their customers with the option of returning them.
Customers should be incentivized to either return the pallets, reuse, or recycle them instead of disposing of them. This is critical because the other option of using wooden pallets is extremely destructive to the environment. Using wood to manufacture wooden pallets means cutting down millions of trees.
3. An Option to Return the Packaging
To make sure packaging is not disposed of in landfills, offer customers incentives for returning the packaging. The goal here is to use as few new packaging materials as possible. Companies should consider incentivizing customers to return the packaging once they’ve used the product.
4. Edible Packaging
A packaging revolution has been brewing for the last couple of years. Imagine eating or drinking both the product and its packaging, assuming it’s a food item or a beverage! If this sounds impractical, consider a company in London that offered marathoners a drink wrapped in seaweed waterproof film. The capsule drink replaced the thousands of plastic bottles runners use and toss away on their way to the finish line.
For athletes who chose to spit the packaging, it biodegraded in under six weeks! Compare this with the 1000 years it takes plastic to biodegrade.
5. Zero Packaging
Perhaps the absolute route to achieving zero waste is by not using any packaging at all. But is this practical? Yes, somewhat. Already, some companies use this naked package-free approach. Shampoo and conditioner bars are some of the products that lend themselves to the naked packaging approach.
Of course, most products require packaging of some sort. But if a product can “walk” out of the warehouse naked and still maintain its integrity, those are millions of tons of destructive plastics avoided.
6. Use of Minimal Film Widths
As mentioned above, the race to absolute zero waste is a progressive one. Any reduction in waste is a step towards the finish line. You can minimize the volume of packaging materials you use by using thin films. You can go a step further and use biodegradable films.
7. Only Use Recyclable Materials
Using recyclable packaging materials is perhaps the greatest contributor to zero waste. While reusing packaging is recommended, there comes a time when that material is beyond re-use. At this point, instead of sending it to a landfill, consider recycling it.
8. Reusable Packaging
If packaging cannot be recycled or returned, reuse it as many times as possible. Every time a package is reused, fewer plastics are manufactured. Besides, a majority of reusable packaging is made from durable materials such as recycled plastic, wood, aluminum, or glass. This way, packaging can be reused for years and therefore cut down or eliminate single-use packaging.
9. Use Less Packaging Material
When it comes to packaging versus the environment, less and less is more. Innovative companies are coming up with ways of cutting down the volumes of packaging materials they use. For instance, instead of shrink-wrapping bottled products to ease their transportation, some companies are using ultra-thin strips of plastic to bind bottles together. The result is that they use less packaging material without compromising the safety of products.
Customers are now more aware of the impact of packaging on the environment, and it’s not hard to convince them to purchase products that have the highest eco-friendly ratings. Inevitably, companies that use eco-friendly packaging materials have an edge ahead of their competitors.