Switching to eco-friendly packaging – how you can make a difference

Russell Upton
Russell Upton
Discover content team
5 min read
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Learn how sustainable and eco-friendly packaging alternatives can enhance your business's shipping practices and improve your brand reputation. It’s no secret that our planet is under immense pressure, right now. From global warming to plastic pollution, there are many environmental problems that need to be addressed.

As consumers, it's up to all of us, of course, to be more responsible in the choices we make. To think about the resources we use and how they impact the wider world.  But arguably it's the businesses selling to those consumers that have the chance to lead the way and make the biggest difference.  

With that in mind, perhaps it's time for all businesses shipping to customers around the world to think about the packaging they use and consider moving to more eco-friendly and sustainable alternatives.

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What's the difference between eco-friendly and sustainable packaging?

Eco-friendly is a catch-all term for all kinds of packaging that is – for one reason or another – considered better for the environment. This could be due to the material it'smade from. But it could also be because it's reusable or recyclable, requires less raw material to begin with, or its manufacturing process is more energy efficient.  

Sustainable, on the other hand, refers to packaging made from materials that are renewable and compostable, or otherwise biodegradable. Certain plastics such as PET or HDPE, for example, may be recyclable and therefore considered eco-friendly. But they can only be recycled so many times before being sent to landfill or incinerated, so they could never be considered truly sustainable.

Why should you make the change?

Aside from the obvious environmental reasons for switching to more eco-friendly packaging options, there are plenty of compelling commercial reasons for making the change too.


 To reduce your carbon footprint

At a time when we're all looking to reduce our carbon emissions, using packaging solutions that are reusable, recyclable or made from recycled materials can have a big impact. In particular, opting for recycled content packaging can support efforts to reduce your carbon footprint by conserving natural resources, reducing emissions during manufacture and supporting the shift towards a circular economy.

To support a healthier planet

By choosing eco-friendly packaging, you can contribute to a cleaner, greener world, reducing the amount of waste sent to landfill and microplastics that leach into the earth. Indeed, many compostable packaging options can actually restore nutrients to the ground, boost soil health and support a healthy eco-system.

To keep ahead of changing legislation

Governments worldwide are introducing new laws to curb the use of ununsustainable packaging, and encouraging eco-friendly business practices with incentives to support new packaging choices and minimise waste. Sustainable packaging is the future, so it makes good sense to to start laying the foundations now.

woman wrapping clothes

To enhance your brand reputation

Eco-friendly packaging is one of the most immediate ways you can demonstrate your commitment to the environment. Using sustainable packaging indicates a broader sense of responsibility and concern for the planet, which is something both existing and potential customers will soon pick up on.

To give your customers what they want

More than ever, consumers are aware of the environmental impact of plastic packaging, and they are demanding change. Across the globe, consumers are searching for packaging that can be disposed of easily and responsibly, without creating waste or micro-plastics that damage the environment.

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Different types of sustainable packaging

So you see, there are lots of reasons to switch more eco-friendly packaging solutions. But what are the options out there? Let's take a look at some of the alternatives to materials you're probably using now.

Ready to make a difference?

Of course, some of these options will carry a price premium over their non-sustainable counterparts. And you'll need to consider whether or not they're suitable for the products you ship. But switching to sustainable packaging is something all businesses will need to explore. So if you haven't already, here are a few tips to help you get things started.

Audit your current packaging materials

Look at your products and the packaging you use to ship each one. Consider what packaging you could substitute with more eco-friendly alternatives, and importantly where you could cut down on packaging you simply don’t need.

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Listen to your customers and employees

Customers will tell you what matters to them and importantly what they'd be willing to pay for more eco-friendly packaging. Employees on the front-line may have ideas on how to reduce waste, and switch to more eco-friendly options.

Define your green goals

Be sure to set short and long-term goals. Your short-term goals should be quick wins to drive momentum. Long-term goals may involve a little more financial commitment and more comprehensive changes to your supply chain.

Work with like-minded partners

Research supply chain partners that align with your green goals. Your aim should be to form positive and collaborative relationships, and support each other in developing more sustainable materials and supply chain processes.

Make incremental changes

Start with small-scale alterations, like switching to recycled materials. Then think strategically and set goals for the bigger changes, such as removing plastics from your supply chain altogether.

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Factor long-term cost savings into your budget

Sourcing eco-friendly packaging materials now will help you stay ahead of changing legislation, so you’ll be well prepared as the business landscape continues to evolve. Consider these hidden cost savings when drawing up your budget.

Buy in bulk

As well as achieving cost efficiencies, bulk-buying packaging is better for the planet, because ordering larger consignments reduces the number of deliveries and therefore the emissions involved in bringing the materials to you.

Make continuous improvements

Without keeping track of the green improvements you’ve made, it can be hard to assess the impact of changes you've introduced. So conduct regular reviews to identify how you can streamline your packaging and distribution processes further.