The Importance of Sustainable Packaging Solutions

The Importance of Sustainable Packaging Solutions

Would the packaging you receive for your next online order influence whether you make another purchase from that business? For some concerned consumers, the answer to this question is a resounding “Yes!”

According to a McKinsey survey, 66% of all respondents and 75% of the millennial respondents who currently hold generational buying power said they consider sustainability when exercising purchasing power. As climate change and resource depletion concerns continue, many seek new opportunities to support more sustainable business practices.

In 2022, the United States produced 268 million tons of waste — with 140 million tons going directly into landfills. The average U.S. citizen generates about 4.5 pounds of trash daily, much of which includes recyclable content!

Today, more industries than ever are shifting towards packaging solutions that cause less environmental harm.

As consumers continue to become increasingly invested in eco-conscious purchases, there is mounting pressure within the packaging industry to offer as many environmentally friendly solutions as possible.

Growing Consumer Concerns About Plastic Waste

Did you know that approximately 36% of all plastic produced is used to create packaging materials? Unfortunately, 85% of that plastic will end up buried in a landfill once it’s fulfilled its role.

As if this wasn’t already a concerning statistic, there has also been a sharp decrease in plastic recycling efforts. Unfortunately, 98% of single-use plastic products are made from fossil fuels, further complicating matters.

In the US, several states and localities have banned certain single-use plastic products, such as shopping bags, cups, and food containers. In response, the federal government has planned to phase out single-use plastics in all national parks by 2032.

A recent Future Market Insights (FMI) study uncovered that many global organizations are shifting their focus towards biodegradable and recyclable packaging materials to combat plastic waste.

Alternative Materials for Sustainable Packaging

Fortunately, there are a variety of alternative materials that organizations across the globe are adopting to replace plastic packaging, including:

  • Plant-based polystyrene replacements like Green Cell Foam and Cruz Foam
  • Biodegradable or compostable solutions
  • Cornstarch or mushroom packaging
  • Glassine, Kraft, or cellulose paper
  • Corrugated containers
  • Recycled materials
  • Reusable options

Surprisingly, consumers are willing to pay a premium for these alternative solutions. For example, a survey recently uncovered that 86% of consumers 45 years or younger are willing to pay more for sustainable packaging.

But how are packaging industry regulations shifting and adapting to these market demands?

Developing Industry Protocols and Global Regulations

The American Society for Testing & Materials (ASTM) has developed testing for sustainable, alternative materials. They continue to update test protocols as the market changes. For example, three standards are widely used for industrial composting: D6400, D5338, and D6691. Due to the increase in demand for compostable products, the ASTM’s subcommittee is actively working on updating biodegradability test methods and findings.

Similarly, sustainable packaging regulations are still in various stages of development worldwide which is why it’s crucial to stay abreast of these updates and changes that could impact your business.

WESTPAK’s Testing Supports Sustainability Efforts

WESTPAK’s test capability and expertise can be a valuable partner and contributor to your sustainability projects.

Contact us to get started with ensuring your product or packaging is actively moving towards an environmentally friendly future while staying competitive in the market as more and more organizations take a closer look at incorporating sustainable practices into their business.