How to switch to sustainable packaging

How to switch to sustainable packaging

Sustainable packaging is no longer a nice extra. As consumers across the world grow increasingly aware of the impact of single-use plastics and other non-recyclable materials, companies are taking steps to make their packaging and processes more eco-friendly, both pre- and post-sale.

The good news is that switching to sustainable packaging is easier than it may sound. Here’s what you need to know to make the right choice for your company.


What are the different kinds of eco-friendly packaging? 


Unlike non-recyclable (or hard-to-recycle) packaging such as plastic bags, polystyrene clamshells and composite chip bags or candy wrappers, sustainable packaging produces little or no waste. Rather than ending up in a landfill or the ocean, eco-friendly materials either decompose back into the earth or can be recycled. Here are the most widespread types of sustainable packaging:

Compostable packaging

Compostable packaging is made of materials that are able to disintegrate back into the environment without releasing harmful chemicals. These products are usually made by substituting polymers with naturally-produced waste products such as cellulose or wood pulp. 

Biodegradable packaging

Biodegradable packaging materials also break down into the environment. However, unlike compostable materials which require a specific setting (either at home or in an industrial composting plant), biodegradable materials break down naturally. 

Recyclable packaging

Recyclable materials can be collected and remanufactured to make new products. Many commonly-used packaging materials are theoretically recyclable, but in reality end up in landfill because they are complex and energy-intensive for conventional recycling streams to handle. Monomaterials such as metallized paper and board are 100% recyclable and energy-efficient to produce.

How can you find the right packaging partner?



1. Do your research

Unfortunately, some packaging materials are marketed as more sustainable than they really are, in a process known as “greenwashing”. To ensure you’re getting the real thing, take a look at potential products’ life cycle analysis (LCA) and certifications such as that of the Forest Stewardship Council, which guarantees materials come from “responsibly managed forests that provide environmental, social and economic benefits." 

2. Keep your design and product requirements in mind

Different products have different requirements in terms of performance, durability and design. Food contact materials have to meet safety standards, while e-commerce brands are increasingly opting for “experience packaging”. The good news is eco-friendly materials have come a long way, and sustainable packaging options now offer comparable performance and design potential to those containing plastics and non-recyclable materials. 

3. Ensure compatibility with your processes

Making the move to sustainability doesn’t have to mean disruption to your existing processes. Metallized paper is a FSC-certified, recyclable monomaterial that can be printed and converted using conventional machinery. Get in touch with the AR Metallizing team to find out how we can work together to help you switch to sustainability.