As packaging industry consultants with years of experience, we’re often asked by our clients about eco-friendly alternatives to conventional packaging solutions. Environmentally friendly options are out there, but there are tradeoffs that often become the determining factors in whether a business goes forward or sticks with their old ways of doing things.
Every industry is facing pressure to do more
With recycling centers overflowing and foreign countries turning away more of our post-consumer waste, the options for dealing with the problem are dwindling. The packaging industry continues to be a focal point for the challenge. This puts us in the role of serving as change leaders as we collectively look for ways to resolve the problems of waste, environmental destruction, and more.
Obviously, the vast majority of us would prefer to leave a cleaner planet for our children and grandchildren to enjoy. But how? Well, that’s where things start to get tricky.
Eco-friendly solutions come with pros and cons
To implement significant changes, manufacturers and major retailers must be willing to accept certain compromises and the inevitable costs associated with those decisions. For example, recycled products cannot be expected to perform as efficiently as original goods. In the case of corrugated boxes, as recycled content increases, paperboard rigidity decreases. This requires more material to be used in order to achieve the same results as non-recycled boxes, thereby increasing the price per unit.
Another example can be found in efforts to replace carbon or fossil fuel-based plastics with corn-based resins. While these products do exist, they are also more expensive to produce and provide a much narrower range of utilization parameters. Once again these factors result in a higher per-unit cost, with reduced performance thrown in on top.
The solution may come from outside
So, while going green might be an important step in the right direction for the planet, it often comes with a higher price tag and diminished returns on quality of goods.
What’s the solution? Perhaps a national commitment is required to affect substantial change. In other words, without across-the-board standards applied to every manufacturer and packaging supplier, the decision to go green will always come with financial risks that competitors can simply choose to ignore in order to gain market share and increase profits.
As it stands now, every manufacturer is left to decide for themselves whether to make appropriate changes – and potentially lose out to competitors who don’t follow suit – or maintain the status quo and contribute to the growing problem of climate change.
Still, some businesses want the greener alternatives and their customers are willing to pay the higher prices that come with them. In cases where the tradeoffs of the eco-friendly solution make business sense, we have options for making it happen.
If you’d like to learn more about how your business can make smarter decisions about materials and supplies, call First Packaging Systems. We love to help our customers save money and increase profitability.