5 May 2021
By 2025, the Australian government wants businesses to use 100% sustainable packaging. The seven-year plan aims to eliminate waste and encourage recycling. Industry leaders recognise the need to protect the environment. But they also see powerful opportunities for job creation and economic growth. This article examines the role of sustainable packaging in business. And why it’s essential to adopt sustainability practices. Discover the current status of packaging in Australia and the true costs of not ‘going green’. Learn about the benefits of sustainable packaging for all company sizes. Read on to reduce your packaging expenses, minimise waste and gain customer loyalty.
There are several recognised criteria for packaging to be termed as ‘sustainable’:
● Optimises renewable or recycled source materials
● Sourced and manufactured using clean renewable energy
● Physically designed to harness best-use of materials and energy
● Forms an effective closed-loop cycle
● Meets market standards for performance and cost
Fundamentally, sustainable packaging focuses on protecting the environment. The corporate mindset also centres on profitability and social equity. Multinational companies that expand operations overseas are now accountable for their negative impact. That includes adverse social and environmental influences. The holistic approach that drives sustainable packaging helps to address these concerns.
The three main types of sustainability include recyclable, compostable, and biodegradable packaging. Returnable and reusable packaging for plastic materials is now also recognised as a sustainable type. Examples range from small packs made from corrugated cardboard. Packages that reduce space yet hold a secure shape are useful too.
Wooden crates used in logistic haulage firms are now reused or recycled as timber waste. AS1604 preservation standard ensures eco-friendly timber treatments as an alternative to previous practices. Even plastic pallets can form part of sustainability practices if bought back at the end of their life for recycling.
Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) released a damning report in 2019. Their findings on sustainability in the supply chain found that out of 5.4 million tonnes of packaging, only half got recycled. Twelve per cent could not be recycled by design, while 2.7 million tonnes got lost in a landfill.
The Sustainable Packaging Coalition recognises this issue. It aims to promote recycled packaging through collaboration.
Their Protective Packaging Design Challenge aims to improve the environment’s life cycle through:
● Responsible sourcing
● Efficient and optimised use of materials
● Recyclability and reusability
The programme also strives to reduce costs and improve performance across different products. This will benefit both the marketplace and positively affect the environment.
Sustainability is not some fancy buzzword thrown around by PR firms. It can have a major impact on how a company does business.
Below are 3 benefits that sustainable packaging can bring to your firm.
1. Reduce Shipping Costs
Reducing physical dimensions through fewer materials influences total shipping costs. The more cargo that can fit onboard a ship or plane the less it costs to deliver. That also influences air pollution. With fewer journeys required to send more stock, CO2 emissions will reduce. That will lead to greener airspace and halt environmental taxation.
2. Increase Customer Loyalty
A study by Ipsos saw Australians voting that the environment was their top national concern. That fits with the consensus in other countries whose industry leaders believe it ties with their
economy. Customers want sustainable products. That applies across the supply chain, from sourcing to delivery and recycling. Small business logistics concerns have seen many SMB’s reduce non-vital packaging. Boxes are now made with recyclable cardboard and fillers get reused for returns. Slips and third-party flyers no longer form part of the parcel. Anything that isn’t required isn’t added. Larger companies like McDonald’s aim to have a circular economy through sustainable packaging. From recycled wooden pallets to using certified sources, the company aims to be 100%
eco-friendly by 2025. Their customers and franchisees demand it. And it makes economical as well as political sense.
3. Minimise Waste
Australia’s National Waste Policy provides a national framework for resource recovery and waste. A recent survey estimated the cost of waste disposal to landfill sites ranged from $45 to $105 per
tonne in rural sites. However, disposing of waste in landfills incurs additional private and non-market costs. These externalities include off-site impacts and the result on the local community.
Reducing or removing waste through sustainable practices lessens these negative repercussions. Recommendations for Small Business Logistics Companies Small business logistics firms are wise to use sustainable practices to decrease overheads. Encouraging their customers to use smaller boxes will reduce consignments. Cardboard products constructed correctly can be reused several times. Urging supply chain partners to remove wasteful over-packaging will impact the entire group. Compostable and biodegradable plastic alternatives can break down within 90 days. They have no environmental impact and eco-friendly customers can add them to their own compost heaps. Therefore, think outside the non-sustainable box and implement more sustainable methods of delivery.
A common misconception is that ‘sustainable’ materials mean ‘less secure’ packing. We find that not to be the case, as long as the materials are of high quality and are fitted correctly. Reducing your organisation’s carbon footprint can help on a PR and financial level. The Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI) restrictions are now mandatory for sea freight. It estimates grams of CO2 per tonne-mile of transport work. The calculation is the ratio of the environmental cost divided by the benefit for society. EEDI is a way to promote the efforts of stakeholders to reduce CO2 emissions through a ship’s energy efficiency. Less packaging equals less deadweight. That reduction impacts fuel consumption which has a greater impact on society. And as an indirect result, your customers.
Implement Reusable Packaging Today
Sustainable packaging is embedded into the national framework for all business types and the
reasons are clear. Implementing a reusable packaging strategy will reduce shipping costs. Minimising waste will also impact your bottom line as will increasing customer loyalty.
An eco-friendly small business packaging strategy will have a major influence in the long term. Large commercial businesses will see a huge cut in expenses relatively quickly. Using recycled packaging impacts not only the environment but also your pocket. That’s why we source renewable plantation pine and recycled resins for our products.