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Creating a Sustainable Package

Consumers are increasingly showing a preference for products that communicate a sustainable message. Two-thirds of consumers say they will pay more for them.[1] Let's look at some of the top ways you can be sustainable and communicate that message effectively on your packaging.


1. Support recyclability. There are multiple elements even to a "simple" paperboard box. There is the box itself, the inks and coatings, and any adhesives or closures. For every aspect of the packaging, there is a sustainable option. Even many plastic films are recyclable these days.


2. Make the recycling logo visible. Your packaging might be recyclable, but do your customers know? If you've gone to the effort to design in recyclability, make sure the recycling logo is visible on the outside. Don't make your customers go looking for it.


3. Consider compostability. Compostable packaging is growing in popularity. Consumers know that not every box, bottle, or can that gets put into the recycling bin is recycled. But when a package is compostable, they can guarantee that it won't go into a landfill by burying it in their garden or putting it into their composter. That feels pretty good!


4. Choose a paper with an environmental certification such as Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI), Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), or Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC). Each of these organizations ensures that every step, from harvesting to manufacturing, is done ethically and to rigorous environmental standards. When you choose environmentally certified paperboard, you can add this logo to your packaging and let your customers know that you've gone a step above and beyond.


5. Support a cause. Shoppers love to feel that they are doing more than just buying a product. They are doing something good for the world. Pick an environmental or related cause that ties in with your product or brand and promote your support on the package. For example, "For every box of our premium coffees, we will donate $1 to support homeless pets." If consumers choose between two products that are otherwise equivalent, they will often choose the cause-oriented one.


These are proven strategies to build trust and goodwill with your customers. Plus, when a brand supports an environmental cause, it also increases customer loyalty. So, with sustainable packaging, you get two for the price of one: you do good for the earth and earn customer loyalty simultaneously.


[1] “The Sustainability Disconnect Between Consumers & Retail Executives,” First Insight/ Baker Retailing Center at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania (2022)

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