There are many ways of making a product stand out on supermarket shelves. The first things that tend to spring mind are the position of an item on the shelves, the aesthetics of the packaging or the number of products facing the customer. However, it is possible to go the extra mile when it comes to grabbing consumer attention, and championing sustainable packaging is just one example of how companies can achieve this.
Consumers increasingly select seasonal or organic produce because they are more environmentally friendly or sustainable. However, if we really want these products to be sustainable, the packaging needs to be sustainable, too.
THE IMPORTANCE OF SUSTAINABLE PACKAGING
The importance of sustainability to consumers has been made very clear in recent surveys carried out by several consultancy firms. According to Deloitte, consumers are increasingly proactive when it comes to living a more sustainable life, whether this means choosing brands that champion ethical or environmentally friendly practices and values, or by choosing not to put certain products in their shopping basket because they have concerns about the ethics or sustainability of the brand or its values.
Packaging plays a key role in sustainability policies and consumers stress that packaging should respect the environment and be recyclable, reusable or be made from recycled materials.
There are additional indications of strong consumer support for sustainable packaging. Other industry sources state that 54% of respondents take packaging sustainability into account when choosing between products, and 67% of consumers say that they value products that are presented in sustainable packaging. The data clearly suggests that getting behind more sustainable packaging is not only a good idea in the short to mid-term, it can also help to reinforce brand image and increase sales.
ECO-DESIGN AND MONO-MATERIAL PACKAGING: A NEW WAY OF BECOMING SUSTAINABLE
There are many ways of satisfying increasing demands for sustainable packaging. Right now, the focus tends to be on using recyclable materials or making packaging from recycled materials. Some of the options include using eco-design processes or employing mono-materials during manufacture.
The main aim of eco-design is to decrease the impact that packaging has on the environment and it starts with the design phase. Eco-design uses techniques such as decreasing the weight of packaging, creating designs that make the distribution chain more efficient, and using recyclable or recycled materials. Aspects such as making packaging attractive to customers on supermarket shelves or preserving the contents in optimum condition are also factored in.
Another way of creating more sustainable packaging is by using mono-materials during manufacture. This involves using single polymers that mean components do not need to be separated before they are recycled. This makes packaging considerably more recyclable. One of the advantages of using mono-materials is that they are suitable for many industries and products, such as the food industry or cosmetics industry. Furthermore, the manufacturing process uses up less energy and resources and simplifies the production process.
CUSTOMISATION: PUTTING THE FINISHING TOUCHES ON SUSTAINABLE PACKAGING
The look of the packaging is an additional factor to be considered and can easily be combined with sustainability. As we have seen above, knowing how to transmit brand sustainability is an essential part of grabbing consumer attention.
Innovative solutions serve no purpose if we do not let consumers know about them. We can do this by making sure our packaging shares certain information, such as if the product is recycled or if the packaging is recyclable.
QR codes are a good way of confirming a company’s commitment to sustainability without compromising the aesthetics of the packaging. They can provide basic information on sustainability without impacting the appearance of the packaging to any great extent. They are also a great way of creating a link to the company’s environmental policy.
There are many creative ways of ensuring that customers are aware of a company’s commitment to sustainability and it is important to make this commitment clear on the packaging. Some brands choose to include information that informs consumers about how recyclable or recycled their packaging is, how they have worked to decrease the thickness of the materials they use, or how consumers can recycle the product. This includes indicating the correct recycling bin, stating whether materials need to be separated or not and other useful information.