Make no mistake that packaging development is something that is becoming ever more important in today’s economic climate. It can be directly correlated to almost any productive sector today. Millions of people across the globe have access to all sorts of consumer products and their packaging that represents a symbol of modern consumerism – comfort, practicality, and convenience. Every company, from the humble high-street brand to internet stars like spigo, needs to consider their environmental impact.
As it is a product in and of itself, packaging impacts the environment throughout its lifecycle. The development of packaging has become very challenging and carries enormous responsibility for today’s companies. Companies need to become more focused on the environmental performance of products and how their packaging can contribute to environmental degradation. The future needn’t be so dismal, and some companies are striving to do the right thing. Let’s find out more.
New companies setting precedents
Not all organizations are going to stand around and ignore our environment. One of these is the large UK fashion retailer H&M who has plans to replace all of their plastic packaging with paper products. They are just one of an ever-increasing number of brands that are adapting their packaging, making it more biodegradable and reducing waste plastic.
H&M has made great steps by introducing paper packaging throughout its stores. Their e-commerce channels serve millions all over the world, so a large list of countries will benefit from their changes, including Sweden, the Netherlands, the UK, Russia, Australia, China, and more. The company’s efforts are part of their “circular strategy” for eco-friendly packaging, which aims to reduce packaging by over 25%, designing recyclable, reusable, or biodegradable packaging that can be composted by 2025. The company hopes that by introducing their new kind of packaging, others will follow suit. It will likely be an arduous journey for the company, but it proves that the issue is gaining traction, even in a highly superficial and competitive marketplace where first impressions and brand packaging certainly count.
Not only can we learn from H&M, but a variety of other retailers are making moves as well. Lego has just invested over £300 million to make all of their products and packaging environmentally friendly. This plan will span the next three years, and the company hopes to replace all of their single-use plastics with environmentally friendly paper bags, as well as incorporating plant-based bioplastics in the pieces that they sell.
From street-savvy designers like H&M to websites like mr.bet, everyone needs to start thinking about their environmental impact. The video game industry has been taking steps in the right direction. The new version of the critically acclaimed “Untitled Goose Game” developed by Australian company House will be the latest to use no plastic packaging. It will be entirely made of recycled, post-consumer material. One of the most wasteful aspects of games are the shrinkwrap that it comes in, but House is thinking sustainably on this front. The company is going to use Biolefin. This latest material in packaging innovations emulates traditional shrinkwrap but is entirely biodegradable.
Even enormous brand Unilever is pledging to do their part. They have publicly stated that they want to half the total amount of plastic used by 2025, introducing more environmentally friendly paper alternatives for their packaging. Their main medium of choice will be “Cupforma Natura”, a highly renewable packaging material that can either be composted and recycled, and it’s over 20% lighter than any plastic counterpart. It’s a revelation for the company and the environment in general, and 520 tons of the substance are already being produced on an annual basis. When companies as large as this are making pledges such as these, you can tell that consumer demands for environmental packaging are being met.
A new model
Even during times of adversity and economic recession, you would expect consumers to choose products that cost the least, but cost isn’t always the deciding factor. Consumers are interested in making less of an impact around the world, and this needs to be reflected in business models, so companies are looking towards sustainable models for packaging materials. A recent survey carried out by DS Smith found that over 80% of customers would like to purchase products that have as little packaging as possible, and almost ⅓ of consumers have stopped purchasing particular products altogether because they deemed their packaging to be unsustainable.
The same survey also found that just under 50% of online shoppers have purchased products wrapped in an unsustainable type of packaging, but one in five people that received it stopped purchasing from their chosen online retailer. It’s remarkable data that clearly shows the use of a sustainable packaging model for profitability. Consumers are interested in alternative packaging materials, and a recent survey called the Two Sides Packaging survey recently found that 62% of consumers believe a paper or cardboard box is important for the environment. 46% of participants also said that they are buying from retailers that are attempting to remove plastic from packaging.
Sustainable packaging is the future
The aforementioned research and various studies show that, even in the light of economic problems, consumer priorities have shifted towards a sustainable focus. Sustainability is at the forefront of consumer purchasing decisions, and thus, needs to be reflected in company business models. Brands and retailers need to embrace the use of sustainable packaging at this important time, to both retain their customers and decrease environmental degradation. It is a trend that doesn’t seem to be slowing down and will remain for the future. Let’s hope that it will remain for many years to come.
Do you have any preferences for globe packaging materials? Would you be willing to change your purchasing habits based on packaging materials? We’d love to hear from you. Let us know in the comments section below.
Thomas Glare is a writer and content strategist with a passion for the retail industry, and he’s constantly sharing his ideas to help retailers grow and succeed. When he’s not sitting at his computer, he can be found mystery novelizing or spending time with his family. Photo selection and reproduction rights compliance rests solely as the responsibility of the author.