November 10, 2021
November 10, 2021
Sustainable packaging is packaging that does not use environmentally harmful materials to protect goods. These materials are typically easy to recycle, compostable or biodegradable, and made from renewable rather than finite resources.
There are many reasons why making the change to more sustainable packaging is important, but six stand out as evidence that sustainable ways of doing business will be critical for our future and a potential boost for the economy as well. These include environmental, consumer, and government factors supplying enough momentum to create a megatrend.
Globally, an estimated 42% of all plastics are being used in packaging, the majority of which are only intended for a single use. The problems created by plastic pollution in an ecosystem are long-lasting.
Using sustainable materials for packaging can break this negative cycle.
In 2021, Australia announced its National Plastics Plan, a plan to ban single use plastics by 2025. Apart from Australia, a growing number of countries and cities around the world are also taking action to ban the use of plastic for single use applications.
Rather than wait for legislative pressure, Morgan Stanley research reports that the number of companies with a visible plastic strategy in the US more than doubled year-over-year from 2018 to 2019 alone. When anticipating megatrends, companies have reasons beyond profit to make changes. However, in the case of sustainable packaging, business benefits can be a major factor.
Ranpak and Harris Research revealed that e-commerce customers across the US, UK, France, and Germany all prefer to do business with companies that use sustainable packaging. In fact, across all these countries, over 70% of consumers shared this preference, with >80% saying the same in the UK and France. Consumers felt even more strongly that they would prefer to see paper packaging instead of plastic protecting their online purchases.
Not only do consumers prefer seeing paper in a box, a 2013 study found paper was the most pleasant to the touch out of a field of 12 materials, ranking five spots higher than plastic and even beating out velvet for the top spot.
The persistent myth that plastic is superior to other types of protection doesn’t hold up to scrutiny. Sustainable materials have continued to be used as packaging materials for thousands of years—long before the wide commercial use of plastic.
In many applications, paper outperforms the protection offered by plastic, sometimes up to 58%.
Ranpak’s e-commerce study found that over half of consumers planned to buy more online from 2020 to 2021 within three out of four represented countries. Within these markets, growth in e-commerce is also supported by the increasing popularity of grocery, meal, and food delivery services.
Sustainable packaging options are needed to support the increase in global e-commerce activity.
Environmental, Sustainability, and Governance strategies, commonly referred to as ESG strategies, are a critical part of many companies’ development, as consumers and investors become increasingly ecologically conscious. By improving the resource efficiency of their businesses, companies can improve their scores, and potentially gain business benefits including boosts to reputation, customer and employee loyalty, and access to capital.
Based on global factors including the need for positive environmental action, massive growth in e-commerce business that requires sustainable packaging to support it, and the economic opportunities paired with low effort required to make the switch, it’s safe to say that sustainable packaging adoption will continue to be a megatrend in the near future.
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