Businesses are all about reduced wastage and savings where possible, but what about when the product is sold and is no longer your concern?
Recyclable and reusable packaging is the easiest way to reduce wastage in the long term for both you and your customers. And it can minimise your carbon footprint too. So, why not make it easier for your customers to be eco-friendly by being that way yourself?
With the hottest summers on record and ice caps melting, it’s clear that the way we live and work is having an effect on the world around us. Many companies are adopting environmental and zero waste policies, but can we do more to increase the recyclability and longevity of our products for the consumer?
5 ways we can recycle our products easily
1. Use recycled materials
There are plenty of alternative materials you can bring into your production line, from recycled plastics to glass, aggregate, paper and more. The key is to choose those that can be recycled again and are of good quality. Here are a few options:
Using recycled plastics: this reduces the level of waste going into landfills and can be more cost-effective than fresh new materials. The main issue here is that plastic can only really be recycled once or twice, and there are restrictions on what industries can use recycled plastic.
Using recycled glass: Glass is a material that can be reused repeatedly and has wide-ranging uses. There are certain standards to look for with recycled glass, so make sure you check before you buy and use it.
Using recycled paper: The print industry may be in decline, and we may often be asked to go paper-free to help the environment, but paper still has a place in business. Recycled paper is much better quality than it used to be, and it’s been suggested that it can be recycled up to seven times. So, it’s a no brainer to make the switch to reduce landfills and save our forests.
2. Go renewable
If you are choosing to go with fresh materials, choose those produced using sustainable and renewable practices. For example, in paper and wood, there is the FSC certification you should be looking for. The Forest Stewardship Council are an organisation committed to promoting ‘…environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial, and economically viable management of the world’s forests.’ They offer certification to any product derived from sustainable forestry and provide logos and information for companies to share with their customers.
Renewables can be anything from the electricity you use to your product materials, so do your homework to see if you can be even greener.
3. Design to be eco-friendly
There are several ways you can design to be eco:
- Design using recycled materials
- Design using eco packaging
- Design for reuse
- Design to be energy efficient
If you approach your product and packaging design with these four methods in mind, you’ll end up with a ‘green’ product with a smaller impact on the environment and a larger lifespan beyond your company.
4. Choose the right packaging
This might be the easiest step in your recycling journey – choosing packaging that can be recycled. FSC-certified cardboard and paper are readily available for both one-man-bands and large corporations, so here’s a quick checklist when choosing yours:
- Is your packaging provider certified by the FSC?
- Do any of your chosen finishes reduce the recyclability?
- Are you using biodegradable packaging peanuts or paper?
- Do all your providers have an easy-to-find and transparent environmental policy?
These questions aim to get you thinking about your packaging and your collaborators and help you start considering what is necessary to be more environmentally friendly.
5. Consider the product life cycle
Think about how your product will be used from start to finish. Are the materials recycled or from sustainable sources? Can the packaging be recycled or reused? How long will the product be viable? Once the product has been used by the buyer, what happens to the container or components?
Instead of thinking only about the creating and selling side of your products, think about the longer-term use and impact on the environment too – it may influence the materials and design of the whole thing.
Why make changes?
More than ever, customers are choosing to purchase from companies that have more sustainable and eco-friendly practices. Recent research suggests that “…around 70% (of consumers) said that reducing their own impact on the environment was more important because of the (COVID-19) outbreak”, and they also indicated that they were looking to reduce the amount of single-use packaging they use too.
Consumers are concerned about the environment, and that concern has only increased throughout the pandemic, so now is the time to make your and your company’s position clear.
Your business is focused on reduced wastage and cost-effective practices every day, but so are your consumers. Making steps to increase or improve your environmental practices and the recyclability of your products and packaging is a great way to help everyone involved.
So, check out recycled materials, think about your product lifespan and explore more sustainable packaging. Doing so will help to reduce your and your customer’s impact on the environment and help boost your brand appeal too.
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