Over the years, it has become clear that sustainability in packaging is a concern that’s here to stay. In fact, the market for sustainable packaging is expected to be worth $244 billion within the next few years, and some sources estimate that it will supersede costs and other factors to become the number one challenge for companies over the next decade. So with that in mind, here are eight reasons why the sustainable packaging industry is only going to keep growing.
1. Consumer Demand
With issues like global warming and over-reliance on non-renewable resources at the forefront of consumer’s minds, end users are beginning to demand products that are made with eco-friendly practices in mind, and that includes sustainable packaging. According to The Future of Sustainability in Packaging to 2018 by Smithers Pira, 80 percent of consumers feel the products they buy are over-packaged, and as they demand change, the manufacturing world is feeling the trickle up effect and having to make changes in response.
2. Government Regulations
Consumers aren't the only ones turning their attention to sustainability. Governments across the world are creating more regulations that put pressure on businesses to prioritize sustainable packaging, especially on a global scale and in places like the European Union, Singapore, and China.
The Environmental Protection Agency says that in 2012, Americans sent over 75 metric tons of solid packaging waste to landfills. That accounts for 30 percent of all the waste generated that year, and this is an enormous environmental concern. Landfills can contaminate groundwater and soil, and contribute to global warming, and the answer to reducing waste is, in part, sustainable packaging.
4. The Environment
Along with additional waste in landfills, non-sustainable packaging also poses other environmental concerns because of the reliance on primary—and often non-renewable—resources, particularly fossil fuels. For instance, polyethylene and polypropylene make up about 70 percent of all the packaging materials used, and these are most often created using fossil fuels.
5. Innovations in the Industry Make It Easier
Luckily, the development of new materials from new sources is making sustainable packaging increasingly feasible, and innovations in the industry will only continue to improve. For instance, chemical companies have developed a way to synthesize polyethylene and polypropylene from waste oils and fats rather than fossil fuels, which is good for both recycling and renewable resources.
6. Health and Concerns for the Future
Health concerns and environmental ones go hand in hand because environmental issues have a direct impact on human health. Because packaging contributes to such a large portion of the waste that ends up in landfills and relies heavily on fossil fuels, it also has an impact on human health, which is another reason sustainable packaging is so important for the world’s current population and the health and safety of future generations.
There are ways you can incorporate sustainable strategies into your business while also increasing your bottom line. For instance, recycling certain materials, such as aluminum, is far cheaper than extracting the ore and creating products from scratch. This same principle can also be applied to paints, inks, and other packaging materials, especially now that more chemical companies are working on alternative and renewable sources for ingredients and formulas for materials.
8. Gaining a Competitive Edge
The World Business Council for Sustainable Development conducted a survey involving 141 of the world’s top companies and found that those with sustainable and green initiatives were more successful in all market segments than strategy-less competition, and had margins that were 4 percent higher. If you want to give your company a leg up over the competition, sustainable packaging that meets consumer demands is a great way to do it.
Sustainable packaging isn't just a consumer trend that will fade into the background in the near future, and manufacturing companies that want to remain competitive must adopt strategies to address this issue. Beyond that, many companies are beginning to agree that they have an ethical and environmental responsibility to adopt greener policies, and are finding that this has a beneficial impact on their bottom lines as well.
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