Checking your packaging materials for sustainability is a two-pronged approach. Look for both specific contents in packaging and companies’ business practices from where materials are sourced. These actions can better clarify the true sustainability of a finished product. Use this checklist to help investigate your packaging materials.
Importance Of Being Sustainable
Ensuring your packaging is sustainable isn’t just good practice; it’s good business. Creating a space for business production and profit in a kinder and more responsible future is noticeable to clients and professional connections alike. Your business can even save money by using recycled materials for production and packaging while promoting water conservation.
What To Look for in Packaging
- Recycled contents containing high levels of post-consumer recycled (PCR) contents are ideal.
Choosing recyclable packaging means that your business is participating in a larger cycle of reuse. Instead of continuing the devastating process of overfilling landfills, you are putting waste to better use. By using PCR material, if you are purposeful in your production, you can also make sure that the final product is recyclable at all centers.
- Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC) or Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) certified wood and paper products sources.
These organizations work to protect old-growth forests and endangered species of trees. They also work to restock forests after logging and audit for forest management practices of clearing, production, restocking, and resource use. The wood and paper used in packaging materials will be more sustainable than their counterparts if they have this certification.
- Do not include any oxo-biodegradable materials or petroleum-based polys, often containing enhancers for the degradation process.
When packaging materials contain these ingredients, they can be less than ideal for many reasons. Chiefly, they provide a false sense of sustainability while also leaching into food products. Often wasteful production will continue, and landfill contribution will increase under the misnomer that these materials will biodegrade. They will. But, under no certain time frame and not without imparting chemicals in their place.
For food consumption, these materials also can leach into food products before it is “time” for them to degrade, leaving the quality of the food compromised. Food packaging can be so tricky that your business may want to outsource to companies specializing in sustainable and versatile packaging like custom stand up pouches. Avoiding potentially hazardous materials and additives in production promotes sustainability.
What To Look for in Practices
- Check for business practices on transparency.
Often, if the businesses you are sourcing packaging materials from are serious about their sustainability, you can find them on certified lists such as B Corps. The B Corps works to bring together businesses in a global economy to make commerce practices more sustainable. They provide an online directory to search for businesses and assess their social and environmental impact.
- If the materials or production methods still seem unclear, there are assessment tools to help.
Using tools like GreenScreen or Plan A Carbon Manager Software to check practices and materials against sustainability features are available for businesses to access. These tools are readily available online.
Ensuring your packaging materials are more sustainable is easier when you know what to look for and what to avoid. Choosing sustainability is a smart business choice for a better future.