Sustainability has been the number-one topic across the packaging value chain. And sustainable packaging trends will continue to be at the forefront of new materials innovation. The traditional linear "take-make-dispose" model is rapidly replacing a circular approach that prioritizes sustainability and resource conservation. McKinsey's global survey shows that about 75% of organizations have made clear sustainable-packaging commitments. Meanwhile, according to EY, the majority of the 25 largest consumer packaged goods, or CPG, companies have committed to increasing recyclable content, minimizing packaging, or reusing material.
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Why should companies choose sustainable packaging solutions?
One of the most compelling reasons for companies to choose sustainable packaging solutions has to be environmental responsibility. Sustainable packaging helps minimize waste, conserve resources, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Brands demonstrate their commitment to environmental stewardship through the adoption of sustainable packaging. Find out how companies can adopt environmental, social, and corporate governance, or ESG, practices in this video:
The benefits of choosing sustainable packaging solutions are also far more than environmental responsibility. First, it aligns with customer expectations and helps enhance brand reputation, encouraging customers to repurchase. According to DotCom Distribution's E-Commerce Consumer Study, 69% of respondents reported eco-friendly packaging was the feature that prompted them to shop with a brand again. The study finds that sustainable packaging solutions are more influential to consumers than value-adds like free samples and gift-like packaging.
Additionally, optimizing packaging designs, reducing the amount of materials used, and improving supply chain efficiency can result in lower costs for production, transportation, and disposal. Furthermore, governments and regulatory bodies around the globe are putting more emphasis on creating policies and regulations with the goal of encouraging sustainability. Adopting sustainable packaging solutions ensures brands' compliance with current and future regulations. This can help them avoid penalties and potential reputational damage.
With that being said, adopting sustainable packaging solutions is a crucial step for businesses to take to win customers' hearts and have long-term success. Here're some of the most innovative startups leading sustainable packaging trends for a range of industries.
12 innovative startups leading sustainable packaging trends
- Utopia Plastix has developed a plant-based alternativeto petroleum-based plastics. Its patent-pending process uses its resin for various types of plastic production. The company has produced samples of finished goods, including straws, bags, spoons, forks, knives, film, and a variety of containers. The company's compounded resin has been "intentionally developed" to ensure manufacturers don't have to modify their equipment. It claims the cost is also significantly less than any other plastic alternative currently on the market.
- EVANESCE claims its biopolymers are100% compostable and plant-based, made from renewable resources like corn starch. The Evanesce® Molded Starch technology can be used for diverse packaging products, including straws, cups, lids, cutlery, and more. Products made with the technology decompose into soil in 90 days or less. In addition, the company's bio-based coating makes its products leak-proof and heat-resistant.
- Aegis Packaging manufactures innovative high-barrier coating for flexible plastic packaging. The high barrier coating can make food last longer, increasing shelf life and reducing food wastage. The company's O₂X™ technology is a solution designed for a circular economy. It reduces the types of material used for package production. And packaging with O₂X™ coating can be recycled and reproduced without affecting the quality. Finally, the fact that the packaging is mono-material means easier sorting and recycling process.
- Vericool produces patented, high-performing thermal shippers made from natural ingredients. One of its products, Vericooler Plus, is claimed to keep products cold from packaging to receipt. The thermal protection duration time is also customizable, with a range of 12-96 hours. The company aims to revolutionize cold-chain shipping with sustainable packaging solutions. Its products are made with renewable raw and post-consumer materials. Besides, its insulation material is non-toxic, starch-based, and water-soluble.
- CEAE focuses on combatting waste in fashion with sustainable packaging solutions. The recycled cotton paper is produced using a combination of farmyard cotton and industrial waste. Its production plant is powered by renewable energy, and the printing process employs only vegetable-based, chemical-free inks. What's more, the company transforms PET bottles into a clean liquid that can be used to create eco-friendly polyester filament yarn. This yarn can be used for producing a variety of polyester-based products such as woven labels, tapes, and elastics.
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- The Better Packaging Co.'s POLLAST!C is a range of packaging made from recycled ocean-bound plastic pollution from coastal communities throughout Southeast Asia - one of the regions with the highest contribution to our ocean's plastic pollution. Its products range from mailers and satchels, garment bags, extra protection, labels, and tapes. And the company claims to have removed pollution equivalent to about 439.5k plastic bottles, saved 63k liters of water, and 375mt of CO2 has been offset.
- Hipli's packages are designed to be reused about 100 times. With the unit QR codes on each parcel, Hipli can track the number of uses, whether they take place between individuals, or whether the parcels return to Hipli. The fact that the very lightweight parcels can fold very small makes them create a much less environmental impact during their return journeys.
Beauty, personal care, and electronics
- Clean Filter Packaging produces patent-pending bamboo packaging that's eco-friendly disposal via industrial composting. The company has invented a curbside compostable blend to recycle its packaging. If the products are accidentally discarded in the trash or landfill, they decompose into non-toxic particles instead of creating harmful microplastics.
- Yangi's Dry Forming technology utilizes cellulose fibers for 3D-formed packaging without dissolving the fibers in water. With renewable and recyclable cellulose materials, the technology can become a viable alternative to plastic packaging with competitive cost and resource-efficient production. The solution enables brands to enhance the user experience of packaging by customizing it in various ways, such as shaping, embossing, debossing, radius, and release angles.
- Eggplant Srl reuses wastewater to get high-performance bioplastics through a zero-waste process. It provides PHB (Polyhydroxybutyrate) bioplastics, a completely bio-derived and biodegradable plastic, which can be applied to packaging for electronics, cosmetics, aerospace, and more.
- Sun Grown Packaging provides custom cannabis packaging with recycled and post-consumer materials. Its packaging is compostable, and everything is manufactured in the US for a minimum carbon footprint from shipping. Additionally, the company uses water-based coatings and soy-based inks for cannabis packaging design.
- Sana Packaging designs and develops custom cannabis packaging for a circular economy using plant-based, reclaimed, and recycled materials. The materials utilized include plant-based hemp plastic and reclaimed ocean-bound plastic. The company partners with Oceanworks, Hemp Press, Tree Hugger Container, and several environmental organizations to provide sustainable cannabis packaging designs.
From cutting-edge materials to groundbreaking technologies, these sustainable packaging trends offer promising alternatives to conventional packaging. More brands are recognizing sustainable packaging trends as industries realize their environmental responsibility. By leveraging these solutions, companies can reduce their environmental impact while delivering high-quality products to their customers.
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