Have you recently purchased an item and noticed the usual plastic wrapper was gone? Instead, did you find a paper cover or recycled box?

With advances in technology and more profound knowledge of the environment, sustainable packaging is slowly becoming the new normal. But why is eco-friendly packaging important in this day and age?

To learn more about the importance of environmentally friendly packaging and how to reuse your company’s packaging, keep reading. 

Why practice sustainability?

It is no secret that the climate has undergone an inevitable shift in recent years. The earth has become warmer, sea levels have increased, and carbon dioxide levels are at an all-time high. Believe it or not, human industries are one of the leading causes of these changes and as we become more digitalised, our greenhouse gas emissions are only increasing.

The only way to reduce their impact on the climate is for these industries and their customers to practice sustainability. Sustainable businesses are aware of their impact on the environment and work hard to minimise and mitigate any detrimental environmental impact.

Reducing your carbon footprint is a great way to start and it can be done in many ways. You can assess your business by doing a carbon footprint calculation. For businesses who create products that need to be packaged, one way of reducing this impact can be through creating and using recycled, recyclable, or reusable packaging materials.

Recycling and reusing packing materials will cut down on carbon emissions and prevents those materials from ending up out in an environment where they have a negative impact.

Why is sustainable packaging so important?

Using sustainable packaging is one of the first steps to slowing down climate change. Annually, 95% of plastic packaging is thrown away after its first use. This plastic may eventually end up in oceans for marine animals to fatally consume. 

When companies and consumers invest in sustainable or recyclable packaging, they are slowing the production of harmful plastic and reducing the amount that litters the earth. 

Along with this, practising clean production and choosing to use sustainable plastics or materials will hold other businesses accountable. When the public is aware of better, they will expect better from the organisations they give their money to. 

make packaging into planters

Do consumers care about sustainability?

Today the public has more access to knowledge than ever. This includes information surrounding the environment and how they impact it. Because of this, consumers have begun insisting on changes in how some goods are produced, especially those from younger generations. 

Research from our Ecommerce Insights: Consumer 2021/22 Report shows that 72% of global consumers want brands to use sustainable packaging when they purchase online.

According to other research, over half of Generation Z prefer to buy products from brands they consider to be environmentally conscious. Since younger generations tend to prefer eco-friendly packaging materials and brands, companies will need to consider and adopt more sustainable practices to stay successful. If not though, they soon may miss out on the business they currently get. 

Ecommerce Insights: Consumer 2022

What are consumers thinking about ecommerce deliveries? We share our findings in this comprehensive report. See sustainability insights on page 22.

Five ways to sustainably recycle and reuse packaging

If you are wanting being more sustainable with your packaging, you might feel confused about how to start. This can seem overwhelming at first, but it is relatively easy to start being more sustainable with packaging both in your business and your home.

Here are five ways you can start reusing packaging today:

1. Use recyclable packaging

Simply using eco-friendly packaging materials that are recylible. There are already many innovations in sustainable packaging and this will continue to grow. Choosing recyclable packaging when you can, is the best way to reduce plastic consumption and waste, while adhering to changing consumer demand in this space.

Recyclable packaging can go back into the supply chain and be of value in the same form factor or be recycled into a completely different type of product.

2. Use reusable bottles, jars and containers

If your product comes in a jar or bottle made of glass, metal, tin, or hard plastic, it’s reusable. Instead of filling up single-use plastic bottles, consider investing in the reusable container of your choice. 

Customers will be less likely to throw away their packaging if they can reuse it after the first use. Reusable jars may be a little more expensive, but you cannot put a price on a healthier environment.

3. Secondhand packaging

It is not uncommon for businesses to collect or purchase old packaging materials from their customers. They will then clean and reuse it to ship out products. This is an excellent opportunity for brands to promote recycling and for customers to make a little money.

Also, don’t forget to use secondhand packaging materials from home that you want to get rid of. They can come in very handy.

4. Get creative

When you send out your products, there is a high chance you’ll never get the packaging returned to you for reuse. To encourage customers to not throw the packaging away, you can create a sustainable packaging design they can get creative with. 

For example, you can create a colouring book based on the designs on your boxes or encouraging customers to use their recyclable packaging’s blank canvas and turn it into something new. Depending on the shape of your packaging, you may be able to encourage your customers to reuse the packaging by turning it into a pot plant or storage box.

Make sure to have clear messaging and imagery on your packaging to show your customers these sustainable options for how to reuse packaging, and who knows? your customers may post about your brand on their social channels.

5. Make planters

Sometimes as a business, you have no choice but to send an item wrapped in seemingly ‘non-recylcible packaging’. When this happens, it may appear that your customers have no choice but to discard it, but this is not the case.

Some packaging, such as cardboard egg cartons, can be turned into planters. Encourage your customers to take advantage of the perfectly sized indentions in the carton and plant some seeds in them. The same can be done with cups, boxes, bottles, and any other containers your product came in. 

Ship your products sustainably

Every business is on a different sustainability journey. Becoming an environmentally sustainable business has different paths and timelines, but it’s more important than ever for all businesses to start now. It’s clear climate change is a huge challenge globally. And every business has its part to play, no matter what size it is.

As environmental awareness grows in importance, especially in younger generations, it’s important you take your sustainability practices one step further. One way is by sustainably packaging and shipping your products.

What initiatives are New Zealand Couriers taking?

New Zealand Couriers are Toitū – Carbon Reduce Certified. Dedicated to reducing our carbon footprint with every delivery we make. Our carbon footprint calculations found that our emissions by revenue have dropped on average 7.77% per annum. Learn more about our environmental initiatives on our website.

There are several ways we have reduced our impact on the planet in recent years – and there are more being currently developed.

Some of our key approaches include:

  • Measuring up. On an ongoing basis, we measure and track our carbon emissions, allowing us to monitor our progress, assess key areas requiring action and plan and act accordingly.
  • Modern and well maintained. Using modern equipment. Our current aim for the company vehicle fleet to be no older than 4 years, taking advantage of the lower emissions technology in recent vehicles. Regular maintenance and servicing of all company vehicles help ensure the ongoing safety and low emissions, and we require all independent contractors to have late-model vehicles.
  • Future forward. We are currently trialling hybrid vehicles in our fleet. We will always look to make the most of new technology as it enters the market, and keeping an ear to the ground for innovation is a crucial part of our business strategy.
  • Efficiency in action. Every little gain makes a difference. Our delivery network minimises the kilometres driven and flown between A and B. We are also currently developing electronic invoicing and several other small everyday changes that make a difference.
  • The rewards from recycling. All of our plastic and paper e-packs are fully recyclable. Additionally, we actively participate in workplace recycling and waste management, and all document destruction is securely recycled.
  • Education and association. We make certain all staff and contractors are aware of our environmental objectives. We also align our business with suppliers who can ably demonstrate their environmental practices, and we make our partners aware of our policies and goals. That’s how we use our networking capability to affect change beyond our immediate business.