Sustainable Packaging: Which one is more eco-friendly?
Now more than ever, we are changing our ways to be greener and kinder to the planet. I mean, everything we do in our day to day life impacts our planet, from the car you drive to the products you buy.
Thankfully brands are starting to ditch the red flag of packaging instead, turning to a sustainable alternative and I’m HERE FOR IT!
Consumers are willing to pay more to be sustainable but they’re still unsure what the most eco-friendly packaging is?...
Like any friendly neighbour, I’ll help guide you through the world of sustainable packaging, especially what ones are the most environmentally friendly!
So let’s dive in, shall we?
Let’s break it down…. What does sustainability mean?
Sustainability simply means doing something that causes little to no harm to our planet.
We know there's no planet B, making it essential to start making sustainable choices to ensure our earth is protected from threats of uninhabitable living. Actions like switching to renewable energy to - yep, you guessed it: sustainable packaging - will definitely help the world become a better place.
So what is sustainable packaging?
Sustainable packaging is no simpler than packaging that’s good for the environment. It's a form of packaging that’s made with 100% recycled raw materials, minimised production and/or reusable. Sounds pretty good, right?
And with this shocking statistic, ‘Australians throw away around 1.9 million tonnes of packaging each year, enough to fill the Melbourne Cricket Ground nine times over.' (Sustainability Victoria 2022), it’s no wonder why brands are moving towards environmentally friendly packaging.
To determine whether or not the packaging is earth-friendly, brands will conduct a full life cycle assessment to find a product’s environmental impact - a Life Cycle Analysis.
A Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) assesses each stage of a product's life, from extraction to disposal.
Enough of that, now entering sustainable packing.
Let’s talk about different types of sustainable packaging
Corrugated cardboard is like the 'superman' of regular cardboard.
Corrugated cardboard boxes contain multiple layers creating a strong and stable material. It's the perfect packaging for shipping and transport, as it can withstand a great amount of force.
Plus, it's also better for the planet. Corrugated cardboard is made from around 70% to 90% of recycled materials (Production Packaging), beating plastic and wood packaging by a crazy amount.
And it gets better: corrugated cardboard is also reusable - fold it up or store it for another use again. You can see why more businesses are choosing this packaging material, it's great!
Kraft paper is another sustainable packaging option on the rise.
You'll see most businesses using kraft paper as it's durable, lightweight and maintains a low shipping cost - which we love!
Kraft paper is mostly made from all types of wood pulp, allowing it to be degradable and recyclable.
Biodegradable packing peanuts
Biodegradable packing peanuts are a great alternative to your normal packing peanuts. They're made from naturally derived starches such as wheat and cornstarch - making them 100% biodegradable as they dissolve in water. These little things are great as they don’t add waste to our waterways and leave behind no toxic residue, chemicals, or microplastics.
The only downfall is that they do increase shipping costs as they are heavier in weight. Plus, production is higher in cost.
If you're an online shopaholic like me, I’m sure you'll be familiar with these.
Compostable mailers sound great in theory, but they've got some work to do. Along with my research, I found that compostable mailers aren’t made with 100% renewable resources. Instead, they're made with polylactic acid (PLA) and petroleum-based plastic (PBAT). PLA is super slow to biodegrade while PBAT is the opposite, allowing the mailer to be considered 'compostable'. Who knew?
Compostable mailers also offer nothing to our soil once biodegraded, their inks and adhesives can contaminate.
I’m not quite sure about this one just yet...
Let's wrap it up! Which is the most eco-friendly option overall?
Corrugated cardboard seems to take the almighty crown for the most sustainable packaging. It's durable, recyclable, multi-functional, renewable and more - ticking all the right boxes.
Every day sustainable packaging is improving, so I’m sure we’ll see more alternatives to come.
It’s great to see more and more brands switching to eco-friendly packaging alternatives. One brand I know that's doing its bit to cut down on waste and packaging is Natural Approach who manufacture Australian natural deodorant.
Tracey strives to make Natural Approach an eco-friendly, zero-waste business to reduce her footprint on the planet. I love knowing orders are hand-packed in Kraft pouches, reused corrugated cardboard boxes and MORE. To find out more about Natural Approach's efforts in reducing waste click here → Good for the Planet.
I’d love to know what your favourite eco-friendly packaging option is? Comment below.