Zero Waste Packaging Is on the Rise
Given the entire purpose of packaging, the idea of “zero waste” may seem counter-intuitive. How can you package anything without inevitably causing some leftover waste?
Zero waste packaging essentially refers to a system of packaging where all materials are utilized, reused, or recycled, so there’s no waste product.
While any type of packaging is going to involve some kind of leftover component, there are innovative ways to make the process of packaging into a zero waste endeavour.
In this post we’ll explore some of the details of zero waste packaging and how it’s significant for the manufacturing space.
Innovators are trying different things to achieve zero waste, from creating packaging that serves its own separate purpose, to designing edible containers or nontoxic “films” that can protect items without any excess material.
Aiming for zero waste packaging — or packaging that’s as minimal, efficient, and sustainable as possible, is good for the people, the planet, and can benefit your company’s bottom line.
Why Is Zero Waste Packaging on the Horizon?
As the global population grows, so does the waste we all contribute to producing.
While it’s great to use recycled products (and recyclable materials) — it isn’t a foolproof solution, and it can’t address all of the waste that’s created.
Zero waste packaging can be a challenge. Not only does it require re-thinking what materials are used, but it often involves a full-circle process, where your materials come back to you for reuse or repurposing.
While zero waste differs from industry to industry, the overall goal is the same — eliminate waste and transform or reuse all materials.
When done properly, zero waste can lead to cost savings. If your company creates a closed loop where packaging materials are being reused — or transformed into another revenue source — it saves on the initial cost of creating an endless amount of single-use containers.
Consider this example: your product is packaged in a sturdy, reusable container. When a consumer is finished with the product, they return the package via a local drop-off point or through a shipping service. Then, your company cleans and prepares the container to be refilled.
That’s the idea behind Loop, a zero waste packaging network created by a group of large consumer brands that’s slated to launch later this year.
Here’s how it will work:
Initially, products will be available through Loop’s e-commerce site, and consumers will pay a deposit for the bottle that their product contains. Products could be as diverse as ice cream, deodorant, toothpaste, etc.
The products will be delivered in a reusable tote. As the items are used up, the consumer will put the containers back into the tote and set it aside.
When the tote is full, they can request that a driver pick it up or drop it off at the UPS store. The used packaging will then be cleaned, sterilized, and refilled. Each container is designed for 100 or more uses.
This is a large-scale example of brands working together, but it explains how zero waste can be made possible.
Here are a few ways your organization could start to move towards zero waste packaging:
- Opt for reusable pallets/pallet containment
- Consider using compostable materials.
- Offer consumers incentives for returning or reusing their packaging materials.
- Think of ways your packaging could be upcycled or turned into another revenue stream.
- Minimize the amount of packaging you utilize per package by reducing film widths, thus reducing film waste.
- Invest in packaging machinery that is geared towards zero waste, like the zero-edge sealer from our one of our partners, Extreme packaging.