The Future of Sustainability and Flexible Packaging
Single-use waste is a hot topic these days in the packaging world. Consumers are demanding something be done about it and regulatory bodies are listening.
Powerful legislation aiming to force manufacturers to rethink packaging designs and systems is already in place and further restrictions are sure to come.
One thing is for certain. The packaging of tomorrow won’t look like the packaging of yesterday.
Not that this is a bad thing. Change is good. Especially when the change we’re talking about is sustainability.
But making the move won’t happen overnight. Now is the time for product manufacturers, packaging suppliers and commercial printers to get on board. Adopt sustainability today or fail to compete tomorrow.
The Nuts and Bolts of Sustainable Packaging
What does sustainability actually mean when we’re talking about product packaging? Which technologies and best practices produce packaging that meet or exceed the eco-friendly bar?
- The lighter the better – Reimagine heavy packaging and its design.
- Re–use – Packaging can be partially or wholly produced using post-consumer recycled material.
- Designed to recycle – Sustainable packaging is purposefully designed to be easy to recycle.
- Reduce film gauge – Research and development in protection barriers for food products are leading to thinner films that generate less waste.
- Think ink – Eco-friendly ink, like GelFlex, can significantly reduce ink and solvent waste
- Investing in smarter equipment capable of generating a lower volume of scrap.
- Focus not only on post-consumer waste reduction but on waste stream reduction within the industrial setting, too. Factories should have systems in place to recycle all scrap and waste, or to convert remnants into energy.
- Efficient trim removal can facilitate recycling.
Environmental Efficiency and Flexible Packaging
As a leader in the sustainable packaging movement, flexible packaging is an idyllic example of what sustainable packaging looks like – as it’s environmentally efficient across virtually every sustainability metric.
- Fossil fuel reduction: Flexible packaging uses less fossil fuels in production while lowering greenhouse gas emissions and water consumption compared to traditional packaging. This is due to the extremely light format that requires fewer materials and lower energy output to manufacturer.
- Source reduction: According to the U.S. EPA’s waste hierarchy, reducing the size, weight and materials usage for packaging is a key component to shrinking post-consumer waste and lowering the need for landfills. Flexible packaging excels at source reduction with thin, lightweight designs.
- Fewer trucks required for transfer: Transporting flexible packaging is incredibly efficient as it ships flat or in large rolls. Reducing the number of trucks needed to move large quantities of units further reduces fossil fuel needs and greenhouse gas emissions.
- Ideal for e-commerce: Given the rise of e-commerce, flexible packaging is the most environmentally friendly way to ship individual products directly to the end user.
- High product-to-package ratio: Flexible packaging can hold an impressive volume and mass of product compared to the weight of the package.
- Product protection and extended shelf life: Flexible packaging creates an airtight seal that protects products better and keeps foodstuff fresher longer. By preventing shrink and spoilage, flexibly packaging further reduces waste.
The Power of the Pouch
Of all the flexible packaging solutions hitting the market today, none are as prevalent as the pouch. From snacks to mayonnaise to ketchup, beef jerky, cheese or breakfast cereal, pouches are replacing rigid packaging at a lightning pace.
And the reason is simple, pouches offer a world of benefits – not just to manufacturers and retailers but to consumers as well.
Consumers love them because it’s easy to open, easy to reseal, easy to store, and easy to take it with you on the go.
Retailers love pouches because they offer high-barrier films and airtight seals that protect perishable products and extend shelf life.
For manufacturers, they’re cheaper to transport and easier to store.
And for marketers, pouches offer next-level design capabilities.
Increase the Value of Your Packaging
When it comes to packaging, going sustainable isn’t a cost center, it’s an opportunity for business growth.
Switching to eco-friendly packaging can improve your brand image as more consumers feel positive about companies that care about sustainability. Going head-to-head on the shelf with a competitor who isn’t using flexible packaging, you can easily expand your customer base by attracting those who are conscious about their carbon footprint.
Working Together for a Flexible Tomorrow
Part of achieving maximum sustainability across the supply chain is partnering with vendors and suppliers that uphold the same values and goals. By supporting each other and setting sustainability targets in a partnership, technologies can be shared and dollars invested into research for eco-friendly alternatives and practices will yield greater results.
Wikoff Color Corporation is excited to be ahead of the curve on our shift to sustainable packaging, not just with the inks, coatings and other products we produce in our manufacturing facilities but through the flexible packaging options our products make possible further down the supply chain.
We are experts in flexible packaging and are always on the lookout for industry partners looking to manufacture and print the packaging of the future, today.