With “sustainability” being a major buzzword it is not surprising that packaging comes under scrutiny to ensure it satisfies those who are aiming to improve the environment we live in and promote “green” living. Manufacturers are facing strong pressure to ensure packaging meets the sustainability criteria at all levels of the process from government policies and consumer requirements as well as others. It is not a simple issue as to comply with “green” standards every aspect of the packaging must be environmentally friendly.
While in an ideal world packaging would be entirely “green” it is just not possible for this to happen at this time. It is possible that in the future all packaging could become sustainable, but in the mean time, it is a process of making incremental improvements when and where we can, working our way towards a product that eventually will have less and less impact on the environment.
Whether packaging materials consist of plastic, paper, glass or aluminum each has its pros and cons. None of them can be classed as being completely good or completely bad. In that respect, tradeoffs are a necessity as true sustainability is being worked towards.
While the impact packaging has on the environment should never be trivialized it is important to understand that it makes up only 10% of the carbon footprint of a product, with the largest portion being created by manufacturing of the raw product, and consumer use. All that being said there is a fine balance between being as “green” as possible and still fulfilling its purpose of protecting the product and enticing customers to purchase. If the product doesn’t perform as intended any attempts to make it sustainable will have been in vain as the effort will have been wasted.
When moving towards implementing sustainability make sure to check out our article on Sustainable Food Packaging!