As a result of the Covid19 pandemic, the rise in e-commerce activities have increased the need for sustainable packaging solutions in Germany. This trend is not only visible in Germany. In the U.S., the online market has reached its projected 10-year growth in just 3 months (McKinsey, n.d.) The demand for sustainable packaging among consumers and manufacturers is greater than ever!
In this post, we provide a simple guide across industries (food, cosmetics, supplements, CBD, etc.) to help you make the entrance to sustainable and eco-friendly packaging and provide an overview of the relevant steps.
Getting started on sustainable packaging is not easy. The deeper you dive into the topic, the more complex it becomes. However, to leverage the positive effects for your brand, your marketing and your carbon footprint, it's worth the insight. Companies like Zalando, Nu Cacao, mybacs, Naturally Pam are leading the way. These are our top 6 tips:
(1) set the right goals,
(2) make your goals a company effort,
(3) find the right packaging partners,
(4) communicate your goals publicly,
(5) keep track of costs, and
(6) share your sustainability story.
Every project starts with a clear objective. Especially as an entrepreneur, brand manager, procurement manager or similar, you are familiar with setting short- and long-term goals. Switching to environmentally friendly packaging solutions also starts with setting goals. What do you want to achieve with your sustainable packaging? A smaller carbon footprint? Higher sales through product marketing? What exactly does "sustainable" mean to you? Or when do you want to be completely sustainable? Finding answers to these questions is the first step. Here are some best practice examples of sustainability goals with a focus on packaging:
By EOY 2023, move to carbon-neutral product packaging.
By August 2022, 50% of product packaging is made of recyclable materials to support the circular economy.
By December 2022, 50% of my product packaging should be made of sustainable materials (see possible definition in our 3 sustainability pillars, e.g. on our shipping boxes product page).
By EOY 2025 to become a carbon-neutral supply chain (for more information on fulfillment, see our blog post "5 questions startups should ask themselves about their e-commerce fulfillment").
Of course, the specifics of your business, e.g. the product range or size, play an important role here. Find goals that fit your business and business model. For inspiration, take a look at the UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which address sustainable consumption and production in their 12th goal and present new food for thought (UN, 2022).
It is important that you define and communicate your sustainability goals. This communication works best via internal communication channels, such as Slack, or even at an official kick-off meeting with colleagues, where the goal and next steps for sustainable packaging are presented.
You now have a good overview of your objectives and internal communication channels. Now it's a matter of finding the right network and the right partners with whom you can bring your vision to life and achieve your goals. In the first step, it is important to clarify whether and how you can achieve your goals together with the current supplier network. This is not only about the material, but also about the production, the transport and the production location.
Packaging products, such as stand-up pouches, are suitable for direct packaging of dry foodstuffs and save on material usage and transport costs, which has a positive impact on your carbon footprint.
Another example are shipping boxes, which are very suitable for larger products or even fashion items. In combination with sustainable and high-quality filling material, such as silk paper, they contribute to a beautiful, environmentally friendly unboxing experience.
Of course, you can't jump completely into eco-friendly packaging from one day to the next - getting started requires trust in your partners and a certain amount of planning and material knowledge. Therefore, we recommend that you first request samples of various materials and products to test your way through the different offerings.
If your current suppliers cannot support you in your transition to eco-friendly packaging, it makes sense to look for new partners.
Need sustainable packaging and not sure where to start? Contact our packaging experts for a free initial consultation.
Not only your team, but also your customers and other stakeholders are interested in your sustainability goals. Therefore, communicate your goals and measures on your website and in social media, such as LinkedIn or Instagram. This builds trust with your (potential) customers and lets them share in your journey. An example of good communication of sustainability goals is Daluma (Daluma, 2022) - a juice cure company that has clearly anchored its goals in its corporate philosophy (unpaid advertising due to brand recognition).
Are you worried about the high cost of buying sustainable packaging and the high price sensitivity of your customers? We can alleviate this fear, because with the trend towards more sustainability, consumer attitudes towards sustainable packaging are changing: 74% of consumers surveyed are willing to pay more for sustainable packaging and 25% would even spend a premium of 10% or more (Trivium Packaging, 2020). In addition, moving to environmentally friendly packaging can further strengthen the bond with your customers and lead to a higher Average Order Value (AOV) in the future.
The topic of sustainability and recyclability of packaging can be confusing for consumers. That's why it's important to communicate not only your goals, but also the story of your packaging: Why is your packaging sustainable? How will it be recycled? In what garbage can will it be disposed of? At this stage, education is key. Show your (potential) customers what is important to you when it comes to sustainability, what the challenges are and how you deal with them. Of course, there is always room for improvement and the journey has only just begun. You are doing pioneering work here. Share with your customers. Social media in particular, such as Instagram or LinkedIn, can be a good medium for this. A best-practice example are the posts from Doglyness. Doglyness stands for sustainable dog care products, communicates sustainability of their products and packaging on their social media channels and thus creates a clear added value for their community (Doglyness, 2022) (unpaid advertising due to brand naming/recognition).
You want to switch to sustainable packaging, but have had trouble finding a suitable solution until now? We hope this blog post gives you a good starting point for the first steps. At Palamo, we also value sustainability, in addition to customizability, and would like to make it easier for all interested parties to find their way through the packaging jungle. You can always ask us for advice and talk to our packaging experts. Feel free to send us an email via [email protected] or book a non-binding appointment with our packaging experts for sustainable packaging.
Your Palamo Team <3