20 Apr 2021 By By Rachel Bircher
Protecting the environment has been a growing concern amongst consumers for some time now. Today, most industries are expected to demonstrate that they’re taking responsibility for their environmental impact. Global shipping in general is a major contributor to the emission of greenhouse gasses and are often culprits of using non-biodegradable single use plastic that is starting to cause havoc in the world’s oceans. Although, this slowly beginning to change, with many courier and retailers pledging to make big changes to help care for the planet.
With world earth day coming up on 22nd April, it’s a great time to start thinking more about how you can reduce your warehouse’s effect on the environment. A fantastic way to do this is through the use of eco-friendly packaging. Green technology has come on leaps and bound in the past few years, and there are now many ways to package your products both safely and sustainably.
First of all, what does eco-friendly/sustainable packaging mean? It usually has one or more of the following qualities:
• It’s made of either raw or 100% recycled materials
• The production process is carbon neutral and the supply chain has been minimised to reduce unnecessary emissions.
• It can be reused multiple times, thus extending its lifecycle and reducing the need to create more products. It will also then biodegrade when it’s eventually disposed of.
Here are some great examples of eco-friendly packaging solutions:
Air pillows can be used to fill large empty spaces in boxes and nicely cushion fragile objects. Creating them is a two step process, you buy the films which are biodegradable and often made of recycled content, and blow them up using a machine. This machine is designed to be long lasting and the parts can be easily replaced. These pillows are designed to totally degrade within 2 years. This method of packing is popular with recipe boxes such as Hello Fresh and Gousto.
If you ship gift hampers, consider using wood wool. Wood wool is made from just shredded timber. This means it is 100% biodegradable, made from raw materials with a short processing chain, and can be easily recycled or composted. It’s also lightweight so shouldn’t affect the cost of shipping your parcels on weight specific services. It is especially great for packing presents as it has a nice rustic aesthetic.
These biodegradable bags are ideal for containing soft or malleable items like clothes and documents. They are usually constructed from a blend of organic materials such as GM-free potato-starch and plasticiser-free thermoplastics. They are robust and durable so can be reused multiple times, but totally biodegrade so can also be composted at the end of their life. A variety of sizes are available and they are self-adhesive making them very convenient.
Paper tape is an effective sustainable alternative to traditional plastic parcel tape. It is made from natural renewable sources and doesn’t use any animal products in production which means it’s also vegan. Even the adhesive is made from a naturally-sourced rubber! This tape is strong and tear-resistant once applied to a parcel and can be left on the carton for recycling. Some companies also offer custom printing services so the tape can reflect your brand.
Source: Eco-Craft Paper Parcel Tape
The flexi-hex bottle capsule is a form of protective packaging primarily made of cardboard and made specifically for posting glass bottles. It ticks loads of boxes from an environmental perspective because it is recyclable, biodegradable, and plastic free. It also has a carbon neutral production process. The expandable sleeve fits snugly around a bottle, and the honeycomb design of the outer layer functions to cushion any impacts caused in transit and prevent breakages.
A very common packing material that you may not realise is damaging to the environment is twine (or string). Often, twine can contain plastic which is not biodegradable. Twine made from natural cotton is a great eco-friendly alternative. It usually costs the same and is just as strong, but also breaks down easily so can be easily composted.
Source: Vera-Bee Natural Twine String
These eco-friendly packing peanuts are made from 100% GM free starch which biodegrades and is a renewable material. They are a great alternative to the more commonly used polystyrene chips which are made from petro-chemicals, a non-renewable resource. The Eco-Flow peanuts are actually proven to give better protection for items in transit than the polystyrene ones as they compress more, providing greater impact cushioning. Parcel recipients can then either recycle or compost them, or rinse them down the sink as they dissolve easily in water. This feature also help eliminate them becoming litter. Like with regular packing peanuts, these eco ones can be bought cheaply in bulk and are great at filling voids in parcels and for packing intricate or delicate items that need substantial padding. They are already being used by brands who pride themselves on sustainability such as Lush.
Jiffy have developed a “green” version of their famous padded envelopes. It offers the same protection and durability as a regular jiffy bag but are 100% recyclable. They come in a variety of sizes, and the no side seams and double glued bottom flap offer a high resistance against bursting and punctures. Both the outer and inner protective layers are made from recycled paper making them plastic-free and even more sustainable.
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