Sustainable Packaging

Sustainable Packaging and Its Importance in Packaging Industries:

Sustainable packaging, as obvious and clear from its name refers to the packaging having greater sustainability. Sustainable packaging is the important competitive factor amongst the packaging industries. Every company or individual in the field of the packaging gives top priority to the sustainable packaging development of their services. Sustainable packaging reduces the environmental and ecological impacts thus the most liked and attractive parameter considered by the customers. Sustainable packaging helps in increasing the quality and viability of the human life and natural ecosystem for a longer period of times. Packaging industries always strive to improve the standard and quality of their packaging services with limited resources and economic considerations and their focus is only on sustainable packaging.

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The Evolutionary History of Sustainable Packaging:

The evolution of sustainable packaging or environmental impacts can be dated back to 1970s environmental movement from where the need of sustainable products was felt intensely. The global warming and greenhouse effect were the major issues making the things more complicated. The people at that time were more concerned about the products and services they used in their daily lives and their direct or indirect impacts on the environment. They were looking for such products which will not only be fulfilling their needs and requirements but also have no harm and danger for the natural resources. Packaging industries were aware of this very issue and therefore adopted such methodologies which might be helpful in lowering the concerns of the people and have low adverse effects on the environment. For example, the usage of recyclable and reusable materials which have low carbon impacts in the environment have been the primary focus for the past few years for some renowned companies.

Scope of Sustainable Packaging:

Nowadays, the sustainable packaging is not only limited to environmental impacts alone and there are several other things included in the category of sustainable packaging. However, still, this very fact cannot be denied that environmental protection and sustainability is one of the major considerations in sustainable packaging. The sustainable packaging also includes the economic and social impacts which might help in lead generation and the expansion of sales. For example, a packaging service will be more appealing to the customers when it is available in the affordable lower rates (economic aspect) and the sourcing of materials used for the purpose (social aspect).


The 7 R’s of Sustainable Packaging:

Wal-Mart, a leading retailer company in the Pack Expo 2006 introduced the Packaging Scorecard. They explained the sustainable packaging by a very interesting formula of 7 R’s. The 7 R’s are briefly explained in the following:

REMOVE: The useless, harmful and unnecessary materials, layers or boxes should be removed.

REDUCE: Depending upon the type of material to be packed inside, reduce the size and designing of the packing accordingly.

REUSE: The materials used should be made of such materials which are reusable in the future.

RENEW: The renewable biodegradable resources should be used according to the International standards declared by ASTM.

RECYCLE: The materials used for packaging should be of highest recyclable contents so that it can be recycled for long keeping the quality and standard constant.

REVENUE: The economic stability and supply chain approach for the packaging material is also to be kept in mind to avoid financial disturbances.

READ: The packaging companies should be aware and keep themselves updated of their role in the sustainable packaging.

Later on, the 7 R’s were limited to only three i.e. recycle, reuse and reduce along with the addition of a new term called rethink. The rethink focuses on the encouragement of the packaging industries and companies to consider and adopt the smarter and advanced sustainable techniques for their services.

Importance of Design in Sustainable Packaging:

Sustainable packaging is a complex phenomenon. It is not only about the materials used for packaging purposes but of course the design and methodologies of packaging as well. The more sustainable the design of the product packaging is, the more sustainable the product’s delivery will be. It is important to know that the products are often delivered in package system rather than the individual package. Therefore, the focus in the improvement of sustainability in the design of the product system will have a positive impact on the sustainability of the product inside it. 

Characteristic Features of Sustainable Packaging:

The following few points explaining the term “sustainable packaging” makes it easy to understand:

  • Sustainable packaging is safe, healthy and beneficial for the people and ecosystem throughout its life cycle.
  • It is sourced, manufactured and transported using renewable energy. It is also recyclable.
  • As per the market criteria, it meets both the performance and cost
  • It utilizes and focuses on the usage of material resources which are renewable and recyclable.
  • It uses the advanced practices and clean technologies for manufacturing.
  • It uses the high-quality materials which stay healthy and qualitative throughout its life cycle.
  • It is designed physically optimizing the high-quality renewable resources and energy.
  • It has the ability of effective recovery and can be used in the closed loop cycles of biological and commercial industries.


The above discussion about sustainable packaging clearly identifies its importance and need. All the packaging manufacturer industries, companies, individuals, service providers and the consumers should keep in mind the mentioned points and the practical implementation of such an advanced techniques must be carried out in the first place.

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