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As we approach Earth Day 2021, the world is ready to repackage the way it handles packaging. Consumers are hungry for packaging that doesn’t cause their purchasing decisions to harm the planet. Brands are hungry for sustainable options that represent their values. In the end, eco-friendly packaging is the future because it’s what people, brands and the planet need! The eco-friendly movement in packaging is something that’s taking shape from multiple angles. To create a sustainable plan for moving toward sustainable packaging, brands must understand what’s driving demand. Take a look at seven reasons why demand for eco-friendly packaging is rising as you consider your industry’s role in preserving the planet this Earth Day.

1. Eco-Friendly Packaging Is Very Disposable

Yes, there are definitely some self-serving reasons for choosing eco-friendly packaging. One of the big ones is that it’s very easy to dispose of sustainable packaging due to the fact that it’s lightweight and easy to break down. What’s more, eco-friendly packaging is often capable of being reused. That adds up to both convenience and cost savings. The reason eco-friendly boxes are so easy to dispose of when compared to traditional options is that these boxes use fewer materials. As a result, they are often biodegradable. This relieves handlers of many of the burdens associated with proper storage and disposal.

2. Eco-Friendly Packaging Is Often Cheaper to Ship

The benefits that go along with using packaging materials that are lighter are wide enough to cover everything from the supplier end to the consumer end. If you’re a seller, you’re able to make your items more competitive by offering cheaper shipping options due to the fact that your cost to ship is lower simply because your packaging is lighter. From the environmental angle, that also translates to saving fuel during the journey simply because less fuel is required when items are lighter. While it may not seem like one package could make a difference, millions of brands using lighter packaging adds up to a massive positive impact for the environment. For the consumer, there is the benefit of not wasting money on shipping.

3. Eco-Friendly Packaging Is Great for Brand Identity

Eco-friendly packaging is a great way to establish a brand story by demonstrating that a brand is focused on sustainable, environmentally conscious packaging. Everyone just feels better when they know that resources haven’t been wasted just to add some excess stuffing to a box. Here are some ways that brands can integrate a commitment to eco-friendly packaging into a brand story:

  • 1. Use stark packaging that really gets the message across that you’re focusing on the quality of your product instead of the superfluous “flair” of your packaging.
  • 2. Explain the purpose behind your packaging design. If your brand’s packaging is clearly minimal, be sure to include a short explainer regarding why it looks that way. Let customers know that the brand has made a choice to go intentionally simple for the sake of the environment.
  • 3. Provide instructions for recycling. If you’re providing recyclable packaging, it’s important to make sure that consumers understand the process for properly disposing of the materials used.

Research shows that customers view brands that make sustainable choices favorably. It turns out that today’s consumers are actually savvy enough regarding what is or isn’t sustainable to make judgments based on the materials used for packaging. Here’s a look at the findings of a survey on attitudes regarding eco-friendly packaging among consumers located in North America, Asia and Europe:

  • More than 80 percent of participants surveyed said that they felt it was important to extremely important for brands to design eco-conscious products.
  • 77 percent said that plastic was the least environmentally responsible form of product packaging.
  • Among those polled, most felt that paper was the best packaging material from the environmental standpoint.
  • 72 percent said that they were actively buying more eco-friendly products than they were five years ago.
  • 81 percent claimed that they anticipated buying even more eco-friendly products over the next five years.

While these findings are important, brands should also be aware that attitudes toward eco-friendly products among customers are also swayed by affordability. While it’s true that customers are paying attention like never before when it comes to the environmental impacts of products, there is also the reality that affordability continues to be a driving factor behind most purchases. Quality is another driving factor. While customers are happy to see eco-friendly packaging being used, there is still a subconscious reaction to packaging that appears “shoddy” or rushed. Among the customers polled regarding attitudes toward eco-friendly packaging, 89 percent shared that quality was the factor they cared about the most. When it came to price, 84 percent said that the cost of a product was the top consideration.

4. Eco-Friendly Packaging Can Be Purchased in Bulk Very Inexpensively

The mainstream growth of eco-friendly packaging means that it’s never been easier to purchase eco-friendly boxes and packaging materials in bulk. This allows brands to buy premium eco-friendly items with a relatively low cost per unit. The fact that these items are so lightweight when compared to conventional packaging products means that purchasers stand to save a lot per unit simply due to cheaper shipping costs.

5. Eco-Friendly Products Are Healthier for Employees and Consumers

Eco-friendly packaging materials are typically comprised of natural, nontoxic components that don’t harm the planet. However, one of the most important details to remember is that materials that are safer for the planet are also safer for humans. Using eco-friendly packaging simply makes a company’s manufacturing and shipping floors much healthier places to be. Many inferior packaging options are filled with chemicals and byproducts that can cause health issues, respiratory problems or skin irritation when there is long-term exposure in enclosed areas. For employers, this is a really important ethical consideration to keep in mind. The fact that a company is creating an environment where employees are forced to make contact with or breathe in particles from synthetic, potentially harmful packaging materials must be addressed. This is also true when it comes to customers. In fact, there is evidence that toxic chemicals can enter food through packaging. There is integrity in providing customers with packaging that is free of materials that can cause irritation or health hazards. What’s more, brands are ultimately minimizing risk when they make the switch to eco-friendly packaging materials.

6. Eco-Friendly Packaging Comes With Incentives

Concerned about the environmental impact of unsafe packaging materials, many governments and private entities are actually offering financial incentives to brands that switch to eco-friendly packaging. Brands that use eco-friendly packaging and production practices are eligible for a variety of incentives both at the federal and state levels. In addition to tax breaks and incentives, there are also grants, subsidies and financial programs available for brands and entrepreneurs seeking ways to become eco-friendly. Many of these incentives are actually designed to help companies make the transition to eco-friendly practices. The Small Business Administration (SBA) currently offers special financing solutions to enterprises moving toward green technologies. In addition, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) offers a robust grant program for brands and businesses that employ environmentally responsible approaches and practices for business operations.

7. Eco-Friendly Packaging Is Necessary

At the end of the day, there is a shared truth that both businesses and customers know. There can be no business if there is no planet. The switch to eco-friendly packaging is simply necessary for the survival of both the planet and the economy. There’s never a downside to acting early. For brands, eco-friendly packaging offers an opportunity to join the wave of responsible, resourceful brands that are reshaping the relationship between brands and consumers by creating a way to unite under the same shared goal of creating sustainable economic choices.

Make a Plan for Earth-Friendly Packaging This Earth Day

For brands steeped in eco-friendly values, Earth Day is more than just a symbolic date on the calendar. Earth Day is really an opportunity for reflection on the ways that your business practices are impacting the planet. For many brands, the most surprising discovery of all is the way that switching to packaging practices that benefit the environment also benefits their bottom lines, brand perceptions and customer relationships!