Sustainable packaging: what alternatives are transforming the market?

If packaging initially had the primary function of protecting products, and to facilitate the measurement process and transportation, today they are one of the most important interfaces for brands to communicate their values and get closer to the universe of the consumers. But, every year, landfills and oceans receive tons of packaging discarded incorrectly, generating

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If packaging initially had the primary function of protecting products, and to facilitate the measurement process and transportation, today they are one of the most important interfaces for brands to communicate their values and get closer to the universe of the consumers. But, every year, landfills and oceans receive tons of packaging discarded incorrectly, generating a huge environmental impact – and, for this reason, it has been driving the creation of sustainable packaging.

In order to reverse this scenario for good and continue to provide good experiences for consumers, several brands are rethinking their processes. On the one hand, companies have adopted the practice of reverse logistics, which gives a more correct destination to waste; on the other hand, they are applying even more sustainable materials to their packaging. To find out what’s new in the market and realign your brand strategy, check out some insights gathered in this article!

What to consider when implementing sustainable packaging?

The incorrect disposal of packaging causes contamination of soils, rivers and oceans, affecting ecosystems and even our health. Its production processes also have a major impact, such as CO2 emissions. Aware of this, more and more people are looking for alternatives which helps them to take care of the planet.

A study by the predictive analytics firm First Insight, with consumers up to 22 years old, found that 73% of them would pay more for eco-friendly products. A 2019 Nielsen survey showed that 42% of Brazilians are rethinking their consumption habits to reduce their impact on the environment.

But to help these consumers to do their part, brands need to be aware of some criteria when they offer sustainable packaging. One of them is the level of security provided by alternative materials. This factor is especially important in the food sector and, in Brazil, it is up to ANVISA regulations.

Another important criterion is the disposal process. After all, a good part of consumers do not have access to selective collect, which plays an important role in the correct disposal of waste – in Brazil, only 17% of the population is served by this service according to a study released by the Business Commitment to Recycling (CEMPRE) in 2018. In this case, making people aware to make smarter choices is also a point of attention for brands.

Finally, companies need to reflect on the authenticity of their speeches. This is because practices such as greenwashing – a strategy used by brands that claim to be sustainable, but  do not take tangible measures to reduce their environmental impacts – are on the radar of more and more consumers. It is no use just using a green seal and continuing with attitudes that cause damage to the planet, right?

What alternatives are making packaging more sustainable?

Rethinking materials and processes, several brands are renewing the sustainable packaging market with solutions to help care for our planet!

1. Cassava starch biopackages

In nature, we find great examples of packaging that protect food and when discarded, generate nutrients for the soil: the husks. Inspired by this concept, several brands have used natural raw materials to develop efficient biopackages that decompose quickly without producing toxic waste – and some are even edible!

An example is Oka Biotecnologia, a biotechnology research and development company that, since 1999, has been producing biocompostable packaging, that is, a packing that generates nutrients in the decomposition process. Made from cassava starch, with or without the addition of natural fibers, the packaging now serves the food, cosmetics, gardening, electronics, gifts and instant consumption markets.

Another company that also uses cassava starch to produce biocompostable packaging is the technology startup Já Fui Mandioca. But the brand is not content to reduce its impacts; it also aims to leave a positive legacy for the planet. For this reason, in addition to creating sustainable packaging and offering the reverse logistics service, the startup produces glasses with negative carbon emissions.

2. Green plastic

Following the brands that are exploring the potential of renewable sources, Braskem – a Brazilian company that produces plastic resins – launched, in 2007, green polyethylene, also known as green plastic. The biopolymer is obtained through sugarcane ethanol, seeking to take advantage of the potential that Brazil already has for the production of this material. According to Braskem, each ton of green polyethylene produced, captures and fixes up to 2.5 tons of CO2 that were in the atmosphere.

The packaging produced with green plastic can be identified with the “I’m green™” seal, it has the same properties and achieves a level of performance similar to the resin produced with non-renewable materials.

3. Reverse logistics programs

In addition to proposing new materials, some brands apply the technology to encourage circular economy through reverse logistics programs. In 2019, Nissim Foods from Brazil distributed collection points in São Paulo for people to discard cups of Cup Noodles instant noodles. Then, the packaging goes through a sorting process in cooperatives and is sent to a cardboard industry in Paraná, which separates plastic from cellulose and reuses it in its production process.

The scientific community’s warning is clear: there is no planet B. Therefore, it is necessary to take care of the environment, preserving ecosystems and curbing climate change. For this, brands need to go beyond the discourse and put sustainability into practice. From the creation of sustainable packaging to disposal processes, companies need to “think outside the box” to generate creative, efficient and safe solutions, conquering an increasing space in the market and building a better future for the next generations.

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