Since the late 1980s and the early 1990s the phrase “going green” has emerged as a term to reckon with. Advances in industrial technology has led to a dump yard of toxic components which is polluting the environment and disturbing our eco-system. More recently, countries all over the world have woken up to the challenge of going green. Retailers have been the first to respond by their introduction. The “Go Green” philosophy has forced us to re-think even our methods of packaging and discover more eco-friendly ways to package our products. Companies that have adopted such systems are making a loud and clear statement to the world. These companies are saying they care for the future of our world and will do their little bit to conserve the world’s resources.
Eco-friendly packaging is packaging that uses environment-friendly materials in its production. Most of the materials used are either recycled paper, or packaging that is biodegradable.
Biodegradability means that substances can be broken down into more basic structures by other living organisms acting upon them. Through these chemical reactions, the substance in its original form no longer exists having been broken down into smaller substances which naturally combine with the eco-system. Eco-friendly packaging is one of hottest ethical global trends. Big-time companies in Europe, Japan, China and the United States now prefer packaging made from recycled materials which are biodegradable. Now that bio-degradable packaging has become cost-efficient with new technology and greater demand, most of these companies are actually counting on boosting their sales because of their switch to biodegradable packaging. Various studies show that consumers would be willing to pay a little extra for packaging that is eco-friendly. Eco-friendly packaging also adds brand value to a product. It shows that a company is willing to forfeit a part of its profit in order to preserve the earth’s resources. This is especially true if the product itself is eco-friendly. For example, mineral water sold in biodegradable containers creates an impressive brand image. Cosmetics and natural health products would also enhance their brand image by adopting eco-friendly packaging. Some of the more popular eco-friendly packaging methods and materials are:
Biodegradable Plastics Plastic packaging, derived from petrochemicals, has significantly contributed to our environmental crisis. As an alternative, bio-plastics are made from plants sources like potatoes, wheat or corn. Bio-plastics are recyclable, unlike petrochemical plastics.
Recycling of Paper Paper that has been recycled is also an option for eco-friendly packaging, including 100% recycled boards.
Metal Metal makes for stronger, durable recyclable packaging material. Some of the more advanced alloys are light in weight and more versatile for packaging purposes.
Minimizing Wastage Overpackaging has becoming an overnight no-no in the packaging business. The bottom line is conservation of resources and too much packaging or packaging a product more than is necessary, is considered downright wasting of the earth’s resources.
Using Re-Usable Recyclable Packaging Not only is eco-friendly packaging made up of materials that are bio-degradable, but the package itself should be recyclable for further use. This is called Post Consumer Recycled (PCR). More companies that use eco-friendly packaging prefer recyclable fibers.
Energy-Saving Bio-Friendly Packaging Manufacturers Packaging that has been manufactured with renewable, pollution free energy is also given more preference by consumers. For example: eco-friendly packaging manufacturers that work on wind generated power.
More Companies are Going for Eco-Friendly Packaging Chalone Vineyard based in Soledad, California was one of the pioneer companies to adopt eco-friendly packaging in 2002, receiving international awards for its achievements. Wild Oats began the trend of eco-friendly packaging by being the first grocery store to use bio-degradable packing made from corn, instead of petroleum. The famous chain store, Wal-Mart, is also using bio-degradable packaging made from corn. Nordstorm and Macy’s began producing 100% recyclable shopping bags from April 208. In Europe, eco-friendly packaging was introduced in the cosmetics industry from March 2006. Since then 600 products are using eco-friendly packaging, as reported by Mintel’s Global New Products Database. More companies are using paper-pulp molds made from recycled cardboard, newspapers and cartons. This is used as shock-proof packaging for packaging cameras, appliances, glassware, etc.
Rapid Expansion of Bio-Degradable Packaging This new trend in bio-degradable packaging is seen in the rapid growth of bio-degradable packaging manufacturers, who are struggling to keep up with the market demands. Cereplast, which is a bio-based cosmetics packager, reported a 134% increase in their sales for the first quarter of 2008. Whether companies report actual profits after adopting eco-friendly packaging is not the crucial question here. The importance is in joining forces with a worthy, worldwide cause for the future of our generation, and of generations to come. It is about companies that choose to be kind to the environment and it’s about consumers who care enough for the environment to prefer products that are eco-friendly in every way. This is the future trend, and those who miss out on this opportunity may get left behind.