Sustainability has become the watchword in all levels of society. Around the world, governments, businesses, and consumers are all increasing their focus on environmentally friendly and sustainable practices, and sustainable packaging is a big part of that. According to a recent study from Unilever, 53% of consumers in the UK and 78% of consumers in the US “feel better” about themselves when they purchase sustainable products, and 21% of consumers said that a brand simply making its sustainability credentials more clear on their packaging would make them more likely to buy it¹.
Even aside from the direct environmental benefits, there is huge growth potential for brands that embrace environmentally-conscious business practices and sustainable packaging. The issue becomes whether the benefits outweigh the costs of changing the way that brands do business, so companies often have many questions about transitioning to more sustainable practices.
Is sustainable packaging tough enough to protect my product?
Many fresh and frozen food producers and brokers have an image of sustainable packaging as flimsy and cheaper than traditional plastic or foil packaging. However, “sustainable packaging” refers to a wide range of packaging products, many of which are durable and sturdy enough to replace nearly any form of traditional packaging.
Will I need to purchase new equipment to use sustainable packaging?
The thought of adopting sustainable packaging can be daunting if it’s going to come with the need to invest in an entirely new assembly process. It’s a real concern that introducing any kind of new material to your process can cause all sorts of problems.
However, here at Emmerson Packaging, many of our sustainable materials work with existing equipment, and we’re also able to send our in-house technicians to your plant to examine your existing equipment and make recommendations based on your current capabilities—up to and including the development of a custom film to meet your needs.
Does sustainable packaging cost more?
Sustainable packaging materials do sometimes cost more than traditional flexible or rigid packaging. However, even before you account for the potential of increased sales from environmentally conscious consumers, the increased cost is often offset by the reduced weight of the packaging, which over time saves money in transportation and warehousing costs.
Will sustainable packaging affect the image of my product?
Business owners are often concerned that sustainable packaging will look cheap and flimsy, which in turn will lead to a lower perceived value of their product among consumers. However, modern sustainable packaging options (like Emmerson Packaging’s own SmartPack™ technology) maintain the premium look and feel of traditional packaging while being significantly more eco-friendly—SmartPack™ is recyclable, while SmartPack-BDG™ is recyclable and biodegradable.
Additionally, sustainable packaging is a premium feature, meaning that consumers are often willing to pay more for a product that is packaged with sustainable materials. In fact, 52% of consumers state that they are willing to pay more for products that they feel have been produced in an ethical and sustainable manner², making sustainable packaging an excellent investment for most businesses.
In fact, companies that introduce sustainable packaging often take the opportunity to do a complete package redesign to better reflect the premium quality of the product. And on the other side of the equation, companies that are choosing to redesign their packaging for another reason often take the opportunity to upgrade to sustainable materials.
Overcoming the challenges of transitioning to sustainable packaging
As with any other change to business practices, transitioning to the use of sustainable packaging often presents a number of challenges to brands. However, the payoff from investing in sustainable packaging is usually well worth the effort.
Between the benefits of being able to position your company as an option for eco-conscious consumers and the potential savings in transportation and warehousing costs, the challenges of switching to sustainable packaging are rarely as steep as anticipated, and the branding payoff can be invaluable.
If you’re considering the transition to sustainable packaging, check out our eBook What Consumers Want From Sustainable Packaging: Insights and Trends for the Frozen Food Industry. Download it for FREE here.