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Smurfit Kappa: Sustainable packaging alternatives

With environmental sustainability climbing higher up consumers' priority lists, what more can brands do to package their products in a sustainable way?

Suzy Harrold Smurfit Kappa/Saxon Packaging

Sustainability: avoidance of the depletion of natural resources in order to maintain an ecological balance; "the pursuit of global environmental sustainability" (Google)

The topic of sustainability is arguably now more of a necessity for companies than just a trend. Many companies are thinking about how they can be more environmentally friendly - not just to make a "better world", but also to maintain and increase their customer levels and continue to make profit (both obviously key to long-term success).

Mintel states that 65 per cent of consumers in the UK have a preference for products that are environmentally friendly, and globalwebindex claims that 61 per cent of consumers say they are more likely to switch to a brand that is more environmentally friendly than their current brand.

So how can companies make adjustments to become more sustainable and be perceived to be making a contribution to the pursuit of 'environmental sustainability'? One obvious answer is through packaging.

Many packaging manufacturers are now equipped with a wealth of plastic replacement knowledge, skill and sustainable solutions. Let's take a look at an example of a plastic replacement project conducted by Saxon Packaging.

Two very standard Christmas gift packs were purchased from a local store and presented to Saxon's in-house design team to create a completely plastic-free alternative, with the main focus being on the internal fitment. The end result was a fully recyclable internal fitting and outer casing that presented the products in an appealing and secure way. 

These packs are just an example of what can be done. Of course, the packaging can be made more attractive and a protective film would be required across the front, but it clearly shows how easy it is to eliminate the need for a plastic fitting from packaging.

Another example of a 'quick win' when it comes to packaging is the use of shredded cardboard to protect products in transit and to fill boxes in place of bubble wrap, polystyrene and inflated plastic bottle sleeves.

There are many cardboard shredders on the market and also companies offering this service. It is a great way for a company to reuse old packaging and extend the carboard box life cycle.

There has also been an increase in interest for replacing plastic packaging with paper-based tubes. The paper-based tube alternatives are 100 per cent recyclable and, as explained by Peter Thorpe, sales manager for Smurfitt Kappa Composites, "offer brands that wish to appeal to the ever-increasing number of eco-conscious consumers a competitive alternative to plastics. This could be premium gift packaging for the drinks industry, limited-edition cosmetics packaging or innovative plastic replacement."

With so many options available, what is stopping companies from seeking plastic alternatives and helping to improve the global environmental issues we currently face? The first thing to do is contact someone who can help; contact a packaging manufacturer and let them devise a solution that works for you.

16 October 2020