Everything purchased today comes in some form of packaging.
Have you considered the implications of your packaging as a small business?
With so many options available it's easy to lose sight of the environment when starting a business.
Our 'Tidy Mind, Tidy Life' is from our guest blogger Melissa Lang, a writer from Glasgow, Scotland. Melissa has a keen eye for all things design and in the past has consulted on business branding and marketing. Melissa currently works with packaging supplier Big Brown Box
The cardboard wrap of your lunchtime sandwich to those ridiculously tough-to-open plastic chastity belts for your mobile packing; the amount we use today is phenomenal.
Protective packaging as a concept is a fine one. The problem arises when this packing is not, or cannot, be recycled. The average UK household produces just over a ton of waste a year. Nationwide, this amounts to around 31 million tons of waste a year. Recycling rates have risen due to increased efforts from the government, but the obligation of reducing waste also falls on the shoulders of businesses and consumers.
Protective Packing Boxes and Sustainability
The largest component of product packaging is the main container, it will take up the biggest portion of overall usage, so ensuring that it is recyclable is a big step towards increasing a business’ commitment to sustainability.
The best option available for this a classic heavy duty cardboard box. Considering recycled paper goods produce 73% less air pollution than those manufactured from raw materials, cardboard boxes play a big role in reducing a business’ carbon footprint and increasing their sustainability.
Every council area in the UK now has some form of recycling procedure in place for both residential and business waste, with penalties in place for those who consistently fail to separate recyclable waste from non-recyclable. Cardboard is always one of the options available for recycling, meaning that if a company shipping in or to the UK chooses to ship with cardboard packing boxes, they can be certain that their packaging option is going to be recycled.
Sustainable Protective Packing Materials
Packing materials often cause the same issues s packing boxes when talking about recycling. Bubble wrap is excellent protection – and incredibly fun to play with once it’s no longer required – but it is an inefficient recycling option.
Bubble wrap is made from polyethylene film and is not a recyclable (it can jam machinery); the general consensus is that re-use of bubble wrap is the most sustainable option.
Paper packing materials have this advantage of being fully recyclable. There are many paper options available, making it a fully sustainable choice.
Corrugated paper roll – cardboard roll with corrugated flutes on one side to provide protective padding – is a great option for protecting larger goods and that can be recycled. For small, more delicate goods, there is tissue paper and newsprint cut-offs.
Sustainability in Small Businesses
Sustainability matters to small businesses for two reasons: accountability and public image. Businesses today should have environmental consideration at the centre of their strategy; a sustainable planet means sustainable business.
Businesses can also save money and the environment by recognising waste within the business itself.
Accountability and public image are important for any business, new or emerging; the rise of social media and and viral posts bad press can spread quickly. Consumers are now paying attention whether or not a business is sustainable. Small companies are particularly susceptible to negative press, so ensure avoid plastic packaging and stick with recyclables.
Sustainability as a Core Concept
Talking about environmentally friendly packaging is one thing, what should be understood is that sustainability is not primarily a physical issue – it starts with your company mindset.
Green policies cannot be implemented overnight, which is why small businesses should consider this from the very beginning. Strong leadership is required to push forward changes to existing business practices; companies that have existed for some time, green initiatives may not have been taken into consideration at the start. It could mean sizeable change for an established company wanting an eco-friendly approach to their business.
For some, change is discomforting and will be strongly opposed. It is down to the leaders, small businesses and freelancers to help enforce the change, making all involved realise the benefits of sustainability. Being green can, in the long run can reduce costs. Active green businesses are often subject to receive private and public grants.
What do you think about green packaging?
Why not share your favourite, green suppliers for packaging below. Let's keep this discussion going!