Where are we with eco-responsible packaging alternatives?
Whatever the sector of industry, the environmental context is pushing consumers to make responsible and neutral purchases for the environment, by turning to brands with eco-design products.
There is therefore an urgent need for brands to reduce their carbon impact and their pollution levels by innovating in order to offer new, alternative materials when producing both the product and the packaging.
So, what are these new materials? Are they miracle solutions? Parcome explains everything.
Eco-responsibility in packaging, what are we talking about?
Recyclability, sustainability, bio-based origin and biodegradability... so many criteria now form part of the latest eco-friendly and responsible packaging strategies, pushed by brands.
“Three years ago, around one customer in four started to take an interest in this issue, but progress quickly stopped because budgets didn’t follow. Today, 75% of customers want us to work on more eco-friendly and recyclable packaging to respond to the demands of their own customers. It’s up to us to work on our eco-design by developing more responsible materials with less of an impact on the environment,” explains Matthieu Pierret, Purchasing Manager at Parcome Paris.
Because even if luxury packaging is traditionally made from neutral and more easily recycled mono-materials like paper and cardboard, the sustainable development strategy is pushing this industry to question additional parts: inserts, lamination, thermoformed moulds etc.
The supplier’s mission is to be proactive and come up with creative ideas by strengthening research and development in new materials and new eco-friendly practices. Their role is to offer real expertise and market analysis, as well as to adapt new materials to match existing production.
What new materials are being researched?
With the bandwagon effect taking root, numerous new materials are appearing on the market. Trendy and fun fads are in high demand by customers: here’s a quick review...
- Papers made from minerals, orange peel, cocoa husks etc.
- Paper foam made from potato starch and natural fibres,
- Seed paper, made of recycled natural fibres and seeds from flowers or herbs,
- Cornstarch or potato starch-based bioplastic,
- Sugarcane pulp and reed fibres, used to create new materials.
At first sight, these exotic materials are highly attractive! But do they really fulfil the primary functions of packaging: to protect the product and glorify it? Do they stand up to the rigours of the drop test? Can you print on them and fold them?
Another essential question: Are existing recycling facilities suited to these new materials?
It is clear that these great promises do not all stand up to reality.
Getting back to basics: recycled paper, an effective basic
Often abandoned for more surprising innovations, let’s not forget the environmental power of traditional mono-materials like paper and cardboard. Easily recognisable and recyclable by the end consumer, they too are benefiting from constant changes. Let’s look at the case of paper, which has become a real asset for eco-design packaging, thanks to several criteria:
- The rate of recycled fibres used to make paper
- The treatments undergone by paper throughout the recycling process (deinked paper, bleached or not etc.)
- The content of recycled paper in terms of post-industrial waste (PCW: Post Consumer Waste)*
- The FSC label© (Forest Stewardship Council), a tool aiming to promote responsible and sustainable management of forests across the world.
- Its use as a mono-material guaranteeing better integration in final recycling facilities. An argument not to be disregarded!
- A positive image associated with sustainable development easily identifiable in the eyes of the consumer.
- There are so many paper-based solutions, tested and approved, which will provide the sustainable touch needed for eco-friendly packaging, without too much expense!
*It is called “recycled” paper if it contains at least 50% fibres coming from printed-paper waste (post-consumption).
The good news is that with this complete overview, luxury brands have a vast range to choose from in order to make their packaging more environmentally friendly and responsible. The challenge is therefore in making the choice! To do this, don’t hesitate to get advice from your packaging supplier, a real expert in this matter. They’ll know how to direct you toward the most suitable, environmentally-friendly material in terms of design and functionality!