By definition, green packaging or sustainable packaging is manufactured using sustainable materials, using renewable energy sources. Green packaging ensures that the materials used are completely recyclable which generates a continuing loop of usage and manufacturing. The planet is facing the need for the optimum use of raw materials and reusing that which is used, so that future generations can benefit from this conservation. Let’s see some reasons why we should encourage green packaging:
Beneficial for the environment and people
The packaging industry is a huge one, with a turnover of over $400 billion, and one which employs approximately 5 million employees worldwide. Since, everyone on the planet is a part of this industry, as consumers or as manufacturers, the impact of this industry on the planet’s resources is tremendous. The disposal of packaging all over the world leads to an enormous amount of waste.
If packaging is made from sustainable materials, it can be used over and over again, leading to the reduction of waste as well as lessening the use of raw materials. This will benefit the environment to a great extent. Sustainable packaging methods are designed to benefit wildlife and the indigenous people of the world too.
Designing green packaging using green materials
Packaging manufacturers have to make the change towards more eco friendly packaging and opt for designs which do not affect the life-cycle of the product, is transportable and is manufactured using renewable and reusable materials like card, paper and bio-polymers. Materials like straw, bamboo and mushroom-derived are also finding favor with manufacturers. Packaging material made out of renewable feedstock is another option. Steel and aluminum are two other materials which can be used more than once.
Profit concerns of manufacturers due to the use of renewable materials
The packaging industry has to gradually but surely move towards green packaging as there is a global trend of governments and citizens becoming more environmentally aware, and willing to take steps to conserve the environment. The industry now needs to look at ways of new methods of manufacturing techniques which uses the least amount of raw materials as well as renewable energy sources like solar and tidal power, wind energy etc to reduce their carbon footprint drastically.
As governments are putting into place stricter legislations concerning the disposal of industrial waste and other regulations on the packaging industry, the manufacturers are keener to invest in green materials and tech. People worldwide are willing to pay more for green packaging in a bid to do their bit for the environment, so the packaging industry will not be at a loss due to the changeover to new greener methods. In fact, the change will benefit all, from manufacturers to consumers, and of course, the planet.
A company in Colorado used a form of packaging which was meant to be buried in the soil. After a few days, the cartons which were made out of recycled newspaper and seeds sprinkled on them, began to sprout flowers. This cost the manufacturer more in production but was such a hit with consumers that they willingly paid more for the product and the company quadrupled its profits.
Reduction of litter
Reducing litter is an important part of environmental measures. Litter is unsightly and degrades the environment, is a drain on public resources, and most of the time, litter ends up in the landfills rather than being sent for recycling. Green packaging would reduce littering to a great extent as people would sort these for recycling, rather than throwing it in the trash bin.
The time is now
Environmental changes like climate change, depletion of natural resources and degradation of our natural environment are very challenging concerns facing us now. Decades of abusing our natural resources and environment has led to changes which would be now very difficult to reverse. Green packaging can help in reducing the damage as it would mean a global effort towards conservation of the environment.
Each person can choose for a greener lifestyle and that means opting for green products too. Supporting green packaging efforts would encourage more manufacturers to change their packaging methods which is the requirement now.