Pulse October 2018 - Page 49

“By eliminating entire layers of unnecessary plastic, paper and boxes, you’ll often save money. Take note, though, that taking away too much can affect the safety of the product during shipping.” tricky terminology Another way to increase the sustain- ability of your product packaging is by switching to new, more environmentally friendly materials. This can be confusing and overwhelming, however—terms like biodegradable, compostable, bio-based, recyclable, and recycled content are often used interchangeably. As defined by the Sustainable Packaging Coalition, “biobased” simply indicates whether a material is made of renewable natural materials like trees, wheat or corn. “Biodegradable” indicates that a material that will naturally decompose over long period of time; compostable materials will decompose in in a shorter amount of time, often in a matter of a few months when placed into a compost pile, says the University of Illinois. Post-consumer recycled (PCR) materials are becoming increasingly common in everyday consumer materials. However, not all PCR materials are themselves recyclable, nor are all of them net positives on the environment. According to the Sustainable Packaging Coalition, “There are trade-offs with every decision. For example, recycled plastics tend to result in more water consumption and recycled fiber often results in greater greenhouse gas emissions.” Yet, the upside of using PCR materials to package your products can be numerous: reduced material waste, lower costs and beneficial PR exposure, to name a few. When it comes to increasing the sustainability of your products’ packaging, be sure to talk to your packaging partner about what they have to offer; availability and costs of particular bioplastics and PCR materials can vary widely. And when you have made a switch that results in a more environmentally friendly product, be sure to market it to your customers—the more they know about your behind-the- scenes efforts to go green, the better your brand’s image will become. n as defined by the sustainable Packaging coalition, “biobased” simply indicates whether a material is made of renewable natural materials like trees, wheat or corn. October 2018 ■ PULSE 47