Written by: RSE Staff on August 21, 2014

As the realities of climate change sink in and natural resources diminish, it is clear that businesses in North America are embracing a culture that believes consuming smarter will lead to a sustainable and prosperous future. These shifts in consumer behaviour have provoked companies to shift their traditional business practices to a more sustainable model, one which embraces a “less is more” approach (See:  Walmart, Coca Cola, Tetra Pak, Loblaw).  There has been a visible rise in companies who are greening their supply chain, and eco-friendly packaging is playing an integral role in supporting these initiatives. Product design experts are vigorously searching for innovative ways to maximize product life-cycles while minimizing their environmental footprint.

The Sustainable Packaging Coalition prepared design guidelines for sustainable packaging and defines sustainable packaging as follows:

  • Beneficial, safe and healthy for individuals and communities throughout its lifecycle;
  • Able to meet market criteria for performance and cost;
  • Sourced, manufactured, transported and recycled using  renewable energy;
  • Able to maximize the use of renewable or recycled sourced materials;
  • Manufactured using clean production technologies and best practices;
  • Made from materials healthy in all probable end-of-life scenarios;
  • Physically designed to optimize materials and energy;
  • Effectively recovered and utilized in biological and/or industrial cradle-to-cradle cycles.

Greening your packaging design is not only important to achieving an eco-friendly product, but important to the growth and sustainability of your business. By continuously reusing or upcycling post-consumer packaging materials, it is diverted from the waste stream and is cycled back into the value chain. All though the adaptation of these guidelines may be a slow progression to change, it is an excellent way to begin.