There’s no question that sustainability is one of the hottest topics of recent years. The general public is increasingly aware of environmental issues. Consumers not only want specific products but seek assurances that these are eco-friendly. Packaging plays a key role in determining the size of our environmental impact and we must work on this aspect of the industry if we are to create a greener world and satisfy our clients. Here at SP Group, we’d like to tell you all about sustainable packaging materials.
Eco-friendly packaging: influencing purchasing decisions
Consumer habits have shifted dramatically in favour of sustainability. People are interested not just in the ‘what’ but the ‘how’. Research, such as a study by the OCU (Consumer and User Organisation) in Spain, shows that this is the case. The study revealed that up to 56% of consumers are prepared to buy products sold in more eco-friendly plastic packaging. So much for the myth that the populace is against changing its habits to make life on Earth more sustainable!
Almost all consumers support plans to improve packaging with sustainability in mind. In that sense, businesses have two options: adapt, or risk losing a significant percentage of sales on account of not having a sustainability plan.
Advantages of sustainable packaging
The data would suggest that businesses can expect sustainable packaging to benefit them in several ways. Perhaps most importantly, their brand image will improve and they will attract new customers. These claims are supported by multiple studies. Consumers increasingly want sustainably-made products, and packaging plays a key part in the manufacturing process of any item.
Sustainable plastic packaging, our best option
Contrary to popular belief, the best option for creating sustainable packaging is plastic. However, the plastic itself must be sustainable and manufactured in a specific way. Projects like CIRC-PACK, funded by the EU’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, actively seek new types of biodegradable plastics to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and create a cleaner manufacturing process.
Though innovation is a crucial area of research, there are already various options when it comes to sustainable packaging. These can be tailored to the needs of each industry and implemented in practically all sectors.
While glass and cardboard are recyclable materials, sustainable plastic is the best option for achieving a greener production system. In fact, swapping out plastics would triple greenhouse gas emissions, double annual energy use and quadruple the consumption of materials to produce the same products.
When it comes to sustainability, we must consider several factors including the energy source and energy use, and the materials used. All these factors impact the sustainability of a given material; plastic provides more advantages at each stage of the process. That is why sustainable packaging should be manufactured in plastic.
Plastic or cardboard?
Comparing plastic to cardboard provides a good example of how sustainable plastic is a better option for sustainable packaging. Cardboard is of course recyclable, and we could use it to boost packaging sustainability, but plastic provides other benefits beyond its recyclability.
For one thing, plastic is versatile, stronger, and can be tailored more easily to a variety of products. Take the food industry – cardboard cannot preserve food like sustainable plastic packaging can.
Plastic also comes out top on the logistical front, since it is easier to transport than cardboard. Coupled with the fact that cardboard requires more raw materials and energy in the manufacturing process, sustainable plastic is a better option environmentally and in terms of resource use.
At SP Group, we’re sold on the central role of plastic in creating a more sustainable packaging industry. The packaging used by our clients is more eco-friendly and enables them to save money and improve their reputation and visual impact.