If You Aren’t Talking About Sustainable Packaging in 2022, You’re Already Behind

February 18,2022 Category: Sustainability
Creating or building upon existing sustainable packaging initiatives produces some of the biggest drivers of cost savings, waste reduction and efficiency optimization for packaging departments and brands as a whole. 

Many brands, both large and small, have established aggressive sustainability goals for 2025 or 2030 and are already working toward them. If your brand doesn’t have a plan for prioritizing sustainability in your packaging, it may be time to bring in the experts. 

In this blog, we’ll take a look at what sustainable packaging is, what it can mean for your organization and steps you can take to realize sustainability goals for your brand today. 

What is Sustainable Packaging?

Sustainable packaging is more than just using recyclable materials. It means using packaging materials and processes that are optimized to reduce their impact on our natural resources. It’s essential that every level of an organization understands what sustainability is and how it aligns with the brand’s goals and objectives. Truly sustainable packaging takes into consideration the human, social, ecological and environmental impact of a brand in order to help maintain a healthy and safe planet to for future generations. 

Sustainably requires careful consideration of the environmental impact of the packaging’s entire life cycle. A thorough sustainability strategy looks at opportunities to reduce material usage and waste and solutions that make packaging reusable, recyclable, compostable or less energy intensive. The wide variety of opportunities to improve sustainability means almost every organization can find solutions that benefit its packaging. 

The “Why?”

For sustainable packaging to work, everyone needs to understand why it’s important. Packaging teams must understand where packaging will go when it is discarded and how to best design it for consumers to carry out the lifecycle. Correct labeling, for example, extends to the consumer–only about 14% of recycled waste makes it into the proper recycling stream. A correctly labeled package increases the chances of that waste making it to where it belongs. You must set brand stakeholders and consumers up for success through an understanding of the importance of sustainable practices such as recycling and composting.
Many organizations have established corporate sustainability goals and are racing toward deadline for meeting them. Your packaging sustainability goals should feed into supporting your corporate sustainability goals. For example, if your corporate goal is to reduce greenhouse gasses, examine how your packaging can have a positive net effect. Other goals might include reducing water usage or eliminating single plastic usage. As supply chains become more challenging, goods may become more difficult to source. The time to act on your goals is now. That’s where the sustainability experts at Adept Group can help.

Reaching Your Goals

Your company has options. For some, compostable packaging might be an option for their products. For others, replacing a costly or harmful packaging materials might be the best way to start on their sustainability journey. The best way to fully understand all of the options available to a brand is through a sustainability audit. This tool allows companies to evaluate their sustainability goals and objectives, examine progress and determine the best course of action based on findings in terms of which projects should take priority. The goal is to make informed decisions about how to manage your sustainable packaging initiatives. 

True sustainable packaging improvements require knowledge of the total impact a package has on the environment, economy and communities throughout its lifecycle. In addition, the packaging must comply with local, state, and federal regulations and global initiatives that outline expectations for brands. 

As extended producer responsibility (EPR) laws become more relevant in more states across the country, having a handle on your sustainable packaging ahead of time can save you from a lot of frustration and unnecessary spending. Knowledge about technologies, materials, tools and regulations around sustainability is constantly evolving and it can be difficult to keep up with the latest information. 

Working with a team of sustainability experts can make the difference your organization needs to realize your sustainable packaging initiatives. For one brand, we launched compostable packaging across their entire product line, maintained target costs for the new packaging, and all within a 12-month window. No two sustainability journeys will be the same, so recognizing your specific goals and needs will allow us to determine the best course of action.

While there are sure to be many innovations in sustainable packaging in the coming years, there are a wide variety of options that are available for brands to incorporate into their packaging department right now. Technologies, materials, tools and regulations around sustainability are constantly evolving. Adept Group has experts in more than 60 specialized packaging disciplines, including sustainability and materials science. Whether you’re evaluating sustainable packaging to learn how to make it work for your brand or you’re ready to start looking at specific options to advance your sustainability initiatives, get in touch. We’re ready to help.