The packaging industry has grown tremendously over the years, particularly in recent times and mostly since the introduction of custom packaging that allows the user to develop the boxes according to given specifications. The packaging industry is estimated to be worth nearly $900 billion with further growth and serving nearly every sector that has diverse needs. The custom packaging is the best solution for small and medium sized business companies along with startup organizations who are looking for packaging that can serve not only to keep the products save but increase their brand identity.
The custom packaging is widely used for variety of retail products, cosmetics, food, beverages, and other consumer goods that need to be shipped, transported, and displayed in the store. There are many elements of packaging from designing, developing, packaging material, to printing. The design of the boxes is the first stage, and then it is preceded with a selection of packaging material which is based on the type of product that has to be packed. The traditional packaging materials were not deemed safe for the environment as, after usage, the boxes ended up in land waste and increased the carbon footprint as the packaging material is not biodegradable.
What is Sustainable Packaging Design?
One of the aspects that have become a key in custom packaging apart from structural design and digital printing is environmental responsibility and development of packaging practices that fulfil sustainable requirements. For example, in the food industry, the packaging material is critical and regulating authorities verify if a particular material is safe and can be used for the intended shelf life period for the product or not.
One of the key challenges for numerous packaging companies is to develop product packaging design that integrates sustainability and environmental responsibility in the design. Packaging has a significant impact on the environment, and packaging companies are identifying every process from materials to processes. According to research, packaged boxes are thrown away after usage and makeup to almost 24% of landfill every year, and it does not include the boxes that are thrown in rivers, roadways, and oceans. The complete life cycle of a packaged box is studied as a benchmark on which other design and development of other custom boxes are based on. The life cycle assessment includes
· The packaging material whether it is cardboard, fiberboard, corrugated, or Kraft
· The packaging process
· The contents to be packed
· The logistics and delivery system; and
· Waste management
Why the need for Sustainable Design
The packaging companies know the relevant regulations for packaging when it comes to manufacturing, sale, and use of the products that are to be packed. The traditional R’s that are considered for sustainable design include ‘Reuse, Recycle, and Reduce’. The most vital function of the packaged boxes is for the safety and security of the contents. In contrast, the digital printing is used for applying a formal theme, company logo, color, artwork, and other necessary details on the packaging. If a superior quality of the material is not used, then the contents could be degraded and even lost, which can lead to customer dissatisfaction.
The modern packaging companies are aware of the growing concern of climate change which is resulting in extreme weather patterns across the globe. The current global scenario calls for positive input along every stage of the packaging value chain which includes
· Sourcing from responsible and credible sources
· Converting the material into a form that is suitable for custom packaging
· The packaging design that represents the specifications of the proposed custom boxes
· The innovative digital and offset printing
· End of life options such as reusability that allows consumers to make use of the packaged box for other purpose such as storing household things.
Apart from packaging providers, the consumers also should play a part and carry out their social responsibility. Consumers can reduce their packaging footprint by choosing a custom design that utilizes the packaging material that is eco-friendly, recyclable, and does not add to land waste. Experts say for a model to be sustainable, four aspects should be considered which are
Ø Effective: Ensures protection of package contents and adds value
Ø Cyclic: The materials used for packaging should be cycled multiple times to minimize degradation
Ø Efficient: The machines and systems should utilize the packaging materials efficiently and provide a robust, durable, and flexible quality
Ø Safe: The complete packaged box should not pose any risk to human health
The implementation of lean technology is best to streamlining the packaging process and minimizing any waste and highlights processes that require fewer materials. The sustainable design improves the shelf life and enhances the longevity of the products.
How Packaging Companies implement Eco-friendly Options
Sustainable design is easily achieved by using modern practices, using efficient resource designs, and use of recycled and renewable packaging materials. These days it is easy for packaging companies to source renewable materials and incorporate them in custom designs. The recent trend is to buy packaging design and then using flexible packaging that reduces greenhouse gas emissions, improving the value of the custom boxes and reduce overall cost, which is why many packaging companies offer wholesale rates on bulk orders.
The conventional packaging systems use up to 80% of the energy and result in an increased amount of carbon emissions that is not good for the environment. The alternative and sustainable design can extend shelf life, prevent any damage or leakage of the intended content or product, and allow consumers to save money.
The sustainable design is not an option but a necessity. The pillars of the eco-friendly environment always revolved around ‘reduce, recycle, and reuse’ and all the multinational companies and big corporations are taking steps to reflect sustainable values through their products and services. The advancement in technology has played an essential role in giving breakthrough in eco-friendly designs and even experimenting with sophisticated and new styles that allow business companies to achieve diversification and competitive edge.
Eco-friendly design is such where the packaging material reduces its carbon footprint over time, and it can be achieved by considering three factors that are
1. Materials: Making sure to use packaging material that is 100% renewable and natural
2. Process: Implementing lean methods throughout the value chain
3. Reusability: Allowing consumers the option to use the custom boxes for other purposes
Why the Future of Custom Packaging involves Sustainable Design
Sustainable packaging design is a process of custom packaging with the emphasis of putting in as little negative impact on the environment as possible. The durable material such as Kraft ticks all the right boxes as it is sturdy, flexible, long-lasting, and recyclable. The flexibility in design allows companies and entrepreneurs to bring a smart and innovative design that can enhance the brand appeal and entice customers to make a buying decision.
The reusability options increase brand loyalty as consumers want to associate with brands that are following social responsibilities and reflecting it through their products and services. The smaller and medium consumer brands are focusing on sustainable options as they already have a limited budget and want to achieve a competitive edge.
The cardboard material is known as the evergreen packaging material as it is organic, robust, and biodegradable. The corrugated material is another popular material which is known for its strength and stability and used for storing and shipping heavy objects. A simple cardboard box is said to be over 80% recyclable, and the main ingredient of cardboard comes from paper pulp and raw materials extracts comes from the trees. Apart from the natural raw materials, there are also bio-based plastics or more commonly called corn plastic that are made from organic compound and now used as packaging material. The simple steps that a brand can take to move towards a sustainable design are
ü If for example, your cosmetic brand has a long list of products such as lipstick, mascara, foundation, eye-liner, nail polish, cream, and perfume, then it is better first to test the sustainable design on one product. If the results are fantastic, then revamp your branding and packaging for every other product.
ü It is better to ask for packaging samples which can give your fair idea on the design, and you can also add modifications
ü You need to evaluate the total number of custom boxes you require and the total cost. Many businesses think custom packaging is expensive, but on the contrary, it is made economical due to recyclable material and wholesale rates.
ü An eco-friendly design sits well among your target audience as it reflects your brand responsive social awareness
ü A marketing campaign can also be run simply based on sustainable design
The climate change is very much real, and every individual and business company must play its part in saving and caring for the environment and leaving it in a better shape for our future generations. The sustainability in custom packaging is just beginning, but it will soon become a standard in the overall design of custom boxes.