Sustainable and functional packaging is used to define a package design that has low environmental impact but has enough functionality to deliver, present and protect the products inside it. A functional package is supposed to increase value by protecting the packaged products throughout the supply chain so that the customer can receive high quality goods. They are supposed to also be convenient for the consumer to open and use. However, in this era of increased energy cost and heightened environmental consciousness, packaging should not only seek to add value to the product but also to reduce the company’s environmental footprint.
There are quite a number of factors that must be considered when manufacturing packages that will be functional and sustainable.
- Recyclability — It is important for manufacturers to use materials that have a high recovery value and that can be easily recycled.
- It is important for manufacturers to consider whether the packaging can be reused for the same purpose or for any other purpose.
- Manufacturers are using renewable resources and renewable energy during the manufacturing process. For some products, manufacturers can use compostable and bio-degradable materials.
- When creating sustainable and functional packages, it is important to avoid the use of any toxic materials that would be harmful to the environment.
- It is important for manufacturers to consider the impact of the manufacturing process on the climate and the atmosphere. The materials should not contain any volatile organic compounds, and the manufacturing process should not release any greenhouse gases.
- Impact of the manufacturing process on the workers and the employees should also be considered. It is important that the manufacturing process remains safe and clean, and that it does not increase the risk of occupational hazards for employees.
- The energy efficiency must also be considered. Manufacturers should use renewable energy whenever possible.
- The packaging should be as minimal as possible. The manufacturers should use minimal materials, reduce the size of the packaging as well as the volume and the layers of packaging.
Benefits of functional and sustainable packaging have made it possible for manufacturers to reach the sweet spot in which the needs of the consumer, the environmental impact, the economic impact and the business needs converge. It is therefore a win-win solution for the environment, the manufacturer and the consumer. The major benefits of using functional and sustainable packaging include:
- Technological advancements have made it possible for manufactures to produce packages that are very sustainable without compromising on functionality. For example, manufacturers can now produce flexible packages that imitate the shape of jars and cans. These packages are made from recyclable material, and they can hold a variety of products include foods and beverages. Furthermore, they have laminated structures that minimize the transfer of oxygen while maximizing the product’s shelf life and freshness.
- Reduces food waste by promoting the shelf life of food products and reducing microbial interaction. In a world where food scarcity is a problem, reducing food wastage is good for the environment and for humans as a whole.
- Packages that are made from chemicals may sometimes interact with the packaged product and alter its quality. This is especially the case with food. Some plastics may have chemicals that interact with the food after a while. This increases the risk of contamination and certain food-borne illnesses.
- A positive environmental policy for any company attracts more shareholders and more customers. This is because people have realized the impact that their actions have on the environment. They are more willing to support and work with companies that have made an effort to reduce their environmental footprint. Therefore, sustainable and functional packaging is very advantageous for companies and manufacturers because it can increase their customer base.
- Functional and sustainable packaging is very convenient for consumers. Companies that use the frustration-free packages do not use air-bubble wraps or plastic cases. The consumer will be happy because it will be easier for them to unpack their products. They do not need to use knives or scissors in order to access the products that they have purchased. A happy consumer will pay off for the company, as they will be more willing to purchase products from them in the future.
- Functional and sustainable packaging costs less to produce and purchase. This is because it used reusable and recycled carton instead of plastics and wire ties. The entire production process is quicker and less expensive. Companies that choose to package their products using this type of packaging will benefit a lot from the reduced packaging costs.
Companies that have adapted functional and sustainable packaging are reaping the benefits. Most of them have reported that the production process is very efficient and inexpensive, and the quality of the packaging is still very high. Furthermore, all of them have received positive feedback from consumers who are pleased with the frustration-free packaging.