Challenges to Sustainable Packaging
There are several challenges that companies may face when transitioning to sustainable packaging:
- Increased costs: Some sustainable packaging materials, such as bioplastics and recycled materials, can be more expensive than traditional materials.
- Limited availability of sustainable materials: There may be limited availability of sustainable packaging materials, particularly for certain types of products.
- Technical barriers: Companies may encounter technical barriers when using new sustainable packaging materials, such as lack of equipment and/or expertise to process these materials.
- Supply Chain management: It may be difficult to find suppliers that can provide sustainable packaging materials at a competitive price, or to manage the logistics of transporting and storing these materials.
- Consumer perception: Some consumers may be skeptical of sustainable packaging materials or may not understand the benefits of these materials.
- Legal compliance: This includes compliance with various regulations for example for biodegradable and compostable packaging, which can be complex and costly.
- Lack of standardization: There is currently a lack of standardization in the sustainable packaging industry, which can make it difficult for companies to know which materials are truly sustainable.
Yet there are substantial benefits to going to sustainable packaging, as well.
Going into sustainable packaging can have several benefits, including:
- Environmental benefits: Sustainable packaging materials such as bioplastics and recycled materials can reduce the environmental footprint of packaging by reducing waste and pollution.
- Cost savings: Using sustainable packaging materials can help companies reduce costs by reducing the amount of materials used and by reducing waste disposal costs.
- Brand reputation: Companies that use sustainable packaging can improve their brand reputation by demonstrating a commitment to environmental sustainability.
- Increased consumer demand: There is growing consumer demand for sustainable products, including packaging, which can provide a competitive advantage for companies that meet this demand.
- Legal compliance: Increasingly, governments are implementing regulations that require companies to use sustainable packaging material
So which direction should companies pursue? Before providing the obvious answer let’s observe two things in history.
What do leaded petrol and asbestos have in common?
- Both were once widely used products that have been found to have negative health and environmental impacts: Unleaded petrol releases harmful pollutants into the air, and asbestos is a known carcinogen that can cause lung cancer and other respiratory diseases.
- Both have been phased out or heavily regulated in many countries: Unleaded petrol has largely replaced leaded petrol in most countries due to concerns about air pollution, and asbestos use has been banned or heavily restricted in many countries due to health concerns.
- Both have been the subject of legal action: Many companies have been sued over their use and sale of asbestos, and there have been lawsuits related to the environmental impacts of leaded petrol.
- Both have long-term effects: asbestos fibers can remain in the lungs for decades, and the toxic effects of leaded petrol can also have long-term impacts on human health and the environment.
- Both were known to have negative effects long before they were phased out: Scientists and health experts have known about the dangers of leaded petrol and asbestos for many years before they were phased out or regulated.
The second thing is to learn from the failed, but crucial innovation of sustainable engineering by a famous founder of our time Mr. Henry Ford. Henry Ford, the founder of the Ford Motor Company, was an advocate for the use of hemp as a raw material for cars. He believed that hemp could be used to make a strong, lightweight, and sustainable material for car bodies.
In the 1930s, Ford built a prototype car that was made mostly of hemp-based materials. The car's body was made of a plastic composite material that was created from a mixture of hemp, sisal, and other plant fibers. The car also featured other hemp-based components, such as seats made of hemp fabric and a hemp-based insulation material. Ford claimed that the car was not only strong and lightweight, but also biodegradable and renewable.
However, Ford's hemp car never went into mass production, due to the fact that the technology for mass producing the car was not yet available at that time. Additionally, Hemp cultivation was banned in the United States in 1937 with the passage of the Marijuana Tax Act. This made it difficult to acquire the large amounts of hemp needed to build cars on a mass scale.
Ford's experiment with hemp-based car materials did not move forward, but it did demonstrate the potential of hemp as a raw material for sustainable and environmentally friendly products. Today, hemp is being used in a variety of industrial and consumer products such as clothing, construction materials, biofuel and more.
At EcoPackables, we firmly believe that plastic packaging is no different from asbestos and leaded petrol. It is only a matter of time until we are forced to look for alternatives. We’re happy to assist any interested customer to make the transition into sustainable packaging, smoother.
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