A Guide to Sustainable Packaging for Small Businesses 

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Sustainable packaging is something that is becoming increasingly relevant every day. Of course, the ultimate beneficiary of a move to sustainable packaging is the planet’s health. However, the shift in consumer preferences also pushes businesses to adapt to more sustainable practices. Opting for sustainable small business packaging can help your growing brand contribute to a cleaner Earth. Ignoring this shift risks alienating customers who are increasingly concerned about environmental impact.

This guide covers everything you need to know about sustainable packaging for small businesses. 

The Need for Sustainable Packaging

It is easy to overlook the importance of sustainable packaging. for small businesses. Making the switch might seem like a drop in the ocean and can be easily dismissed as being irrelevant to the bigger picture. In reality, that’s not the case.

As a society, we need to take action at every level, and small business packaging can help.

brown glass packaging containers with wood and greenery

To see just how relevant this is, let’s have a look at this packaging statistic:

Plastic packaging: 40% of plastic waste is from packaging and plastic waste generation more than doubled from 2000 to 2019 to 353 million tonnes.

Recycling: Some packaging and thinner plastics are difficult or impossible to recycle and can take anywhere from 20 to 500 years to decompose.

Consumer awareness: The increasing awareness of consumers and their understanding of the environmental issues surrounding packaging simply can’t be ignored.

Regulatory compliance: New, stricter packaging sustainability regulations are being implemented across the globe.

While changing packaging may not single-handedly save the world, it’s a crucial step in the collective effort toward a more sustainable future. Of course, for small business owners, it can also be considered an opportunity to position themselves as a responsible brand that cares for the environment.

Sustainability in Packaging: It’s About More Than Mere Materials

When we think about sustainability in packaging, it’s easy to think about it purely in terms of the materials we use. These are important, but there’s more to the story. Sustainability is also achieved through a holistic approach to packaging that minimizes the environmental impact at every stage of the process.

Among the steps that can help achieve more sustainability in packaging are:

Efficient Packaging Design

Designing packaging that maximizes product protection while minimizing material usage is key to sustainable small business packaging. This is especially important when it comes to selling food. Optimal design reduces waste and transportation emissions, essential factors in environmental conservation.

Packaging Lifecycle Assesment

Conducting thorough lifecycle assessments helps small businesses identify areas for improvement and optimize their packaging choices. Understanding the environmental impacts of each stage, from eco-friendly labels to sourcing and disposal, allows for informed decision-making. When deciding on your packaging, think about whether your customers can extend the lifecycle of the packaging by reusing it in a unique way.

Supply Chain Optimization

Collaborating with suppliers committed to sustainable practices ensures the integrity of your packaging materials. From responsibly sourced paper to biodegradable alternatives, selecting eco-friendly suppliers is integral to a sustainable supply chain.

From systems that provide equipment downtime analysis to the suppliers you choose, sustainable packaging is about more than replacing plastic with paper.

small business packaging on display on store shelves

Implementing Sustainable Packaging Practices for Your Small Business

For businesses looking to make the transition to more sustainable packaging, there are challenges to address. However, given the condition of the planet, the changes in consumer behavior, and the ongoing encroachment of ever-tightening legislation, these are challenges that must be addressed as a matter of priority.

Here are some of the ways that small businesses can quickly implement eco-friendly packaging practices:

Select the right material.

Choose packaging materials with minimal environmental impact, such as recycled paper or biodegradable plastics. Do your research to find suppliers offering sustainable alternatives. It is also important to request sample packaging from your printer. This way you can hold the packaging and test it on your products.

Think about how your packaging is designed.

Optimize packaging design to minimize material usage and maximize space efficiency during transportation and storage. Streamlining packaging dimensions and shapes can reduce waste and environmental impact.

Find waste reduction strategies.

Put strategies in place to reduce packaging waste throughout the supply chain, such as using minimalistic packaging, offering refillable or reusable options, and optimizing packaging sizes to reduce excess material.

At the end of the day, it is easy to dismiss the actions of a single small business as irrelevant when looking at the bigger picture. But with consumer behavior changing and legislation tightening, ignoring sustainable small business packaging options isn’t can have commercial consequences for businesses.

It’s a Wrap: The Importance of Sustainable Packaging

With more and more businesses looking for ways to be more sustainable, the days of single-use plastics are drawing to a close. Switching to sustainable packaging is not just something that small businesses should consider as optional. It is imperative, not just for the sake of the planet, but for the ongoing success of the business.

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