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7 Sustainable Packaging Trends Your Brand can Choose in 2020

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Brands face new challenges everyday as consumers become increasingly aware of the social and environmental consequences of the choices they make in the marketplace. One of the biggest shifts in consumer behavior has been with respect to eco-friendliness. Buyers today not only want to make sure that a product (packaging) was manufactured through a green process, but they also demand that the carbon footprint of the entire consumption cycle is minimised.

A 2019 survey of millennial shoppers in the US found that 64% of them are willing to pay more for eco-friendly products and 78% are influenced by a company’s commitment to reducing pollution. This trend is perhaps stronger in India as a report by leading management consultancy firm AT Kearney last year showed consumers in the country are willing to pay more for environmentally friendly or socially-minded brands across categories such as automobiles, apparel, personal care, fresh and packaged foods.

Sustainable Packaging

According to a UN report, we produce about 300 million tonnes of plastic waste every year — that’s nearly equivalent to the weight of the entire human population. More importantly, a lion’s share (almost 42%) of the plastics produced each year goes into packaging. As such, a good starting point for a brand to become eco-conscious is adopting green packaging practices.

Here Shreesh Shankar, founder of Sukkrish AADDS, lists sustainable packaging trends that your brand can choose from:

1. Corrugated Packaging

Packaging - Shreesh Shankar

Packaging Designs by Impprintz Design Studio

Corrugated packaging basically is the brown boxes with streamlined sides you receive from online retailers. They are recyclable since they are made of multiple sheets of paper. With the coronavirus pandemic not showing any signs of abating, e-commerce is set to pick up even in products that shoppers earlier preferred to buy from a brick and mortar store. Get ready to receive a lot of corrugated boxes this year and be prepared to dispatch many if you are brand.

2. Returnable Packaging

Packaging - Shreesh Shankar
Packaging - Shreesh Shankar

Source: Repack

There’s a new R-word in the block — returnability. Returnable packaging will be another consequence of the pandemic-online retail boom that’s happening now. It involves the use of sturdy and reusable material so that the package can be moved up and down the supply chain more than once — thus ensuring an eco-friendly way of returning goods from the consumer’s end.

3. Biodegradable Packaging

Packaging - Shreesh Shankar
Packaging - Shreesh Shankar

Packaging Design by Prompt Design

Styrofoam is one of the most common ways to package electronics and other fragile products. Also known as expanded polystyrene foam, this material is not biodegradable and often finds its way into water bodies where it kills aquatic life forms. Moreover, most Indian towns and cities don’t yet have efficient ways of waste segregation. Given these realities, a brand that uses biodegradable material like cornstarch for packaging could really win the hearts of environmentally conscious customers. Pro tip: Go an extra mile and make your packaging compostable to stay ahead of the curve!

4. Edible Packaging

Packaging - Shreesh Shankar

Source: Evoware

Nature, they say, is a great teacher. Most fruits and vegetables are dual-purpose — both the core and the peel can be consumed in different ways. Taking a cue from this, innovative packaging practices have surfaced to minimise waste. Both the food and the package it is wrapped into can now be eaten. For some motivation: An Indonesian start-up recently manufactured sandwich wrappers from edible seaweed.

5. Go Vegan!

Packaging - Shreesh Shankar

Packaging Design by Visibly Vegan

Yes, you read that right. Petroleum-based inks have been used for printing and packaging for the past fifty years because of their short drying time and cost-effectiveness. However, greener alternatives such as soy and vegetable inks have been around for a while but they may be costlier and slower to dry. But they also have huge upsides — many printers say soy ink is clearer and works better on recycled paper.

6. Smart Packaging

Packaging - Shreesh Shankar

The definition of packaging today has evolved — it’s no more just a container. The advancement of electronics and digital technology has meant that packaging can serve multiple purposes. Basically, smart packaging can help improve the shelf life of a product through moisture control, monitor temperature changes, and storage time.

7. Marie Kondo Your Packaging

Packaging - Shreesh Shankar

Packaging Design by otília erdélyi

Perhaps the biggest pop trend in design in the past couple of years has been the adoption of the Marie Kondo way — to tidy up. Elaborate packaging is wasteful and also time-consuming for the customer. Adopting a minimalistic packaging aesthetic is not only sustainable from the environment’s perspective, but it’s also more appealing to the end-user.

The sustainable packaging market was pegged at $237.74 billion in 2019 by a Mordor Intelligence report. It is expected to grow at a CAGR of 5.7% to 313.93 billion by 2025. This tells us that brands are reading the tea leaves right in adopting sustainable packaging practices. Greenwashing on social media channels isn’t going to cut it with environmentally aware consumers — they demand that brands walk the talk. If you are a business with your eye on the future, you would do well to adopt sustainable packaging today!

Conclusion

It’s important to tell your customer how many times the container can be recycled or how it should be disposed of. The Eco Trends survey quoted at the beginning of the article has a great motivation for communicating green practices to the customer — 76% of millennial shoppers feel positive towards companies who are educating consumers on ways to be eco-friendly.

The sustainable packaging market was pegged at $237.74 billion in 2019 by a Mordor Intelligence report. It is expected to grow at a CAGR of 5.7% to 313.93 billion by 2025. This tells us that brands are reading the tea leaves right in adopting sustainable packaging practices. Greenwashing on social media channels isn’t going to cut it with environmentally aware consumers — they demand that brands walk the talk. If you are a business with your eye on the future, you would do well to adopt sustainable packaging today!

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