recycled corrugated boxes on right with white text reading how to reduce packaging waste and blue downward arrows on left

How to Reduce Packaging Waste

Among consumers and businesses alike, it’s common knowledge that sustainability is one of the biggest concerns facing our society. From concern over how many greenhouse gases are emitted into the atmosphere each day to the prevention of litter clogging up our oceans and waterways, there are a myriad of issues surrounding sustainability that must be addressed in one way or another. One of the greatest among these is directly related to the packaging industry and those who use its services – which is just about anyone that buys physical products. The waste that comes from packaging takes up huge amounts of our landfills and many do not understand how to best recycle, reuse, or otherwise dispose of that waste. Furthermore, those working in the industry don’t always know how to best educate consumers on these same issues. To assist everyone involved in the packaging lifecycle, here are some helpful, easy ways on how to reduce packaging waste.

The Impact of Packaging Waste

Before taking a deep dive into precisely how to reduce packaging waste, it’s first necessary to understand the impact that it has on our world. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, individuals across residential, commercial, and industrial locations create as much as 75 million tons of packaging and container waste every single year. Only about half of that is ever recycled, leaving approximately 37.5 million tons of packaging waste in global landfills annually. 

large garbage patch with package waste near ocean

More than ever before, consumers care about reducing the amount of waste they throw out. In fact, 60% of all buyers say they would purchase similar products from a different brand than their usual if they perceive the new brand as more environmentally friendly. So what’s the simplest way to help our customers reduce the amount of packaging waste they produce, attract them to our products, and create a positive impact on the natural world around us? Easily enough, it’s by reducing the total amount of packaging waste that’s generated when protecting our goods.

Recyclable and Reusable Packaging Materials

Recycling is a straightforward process that the vast majority of consumers already understand. Many buyers are thrilled to receive a product that’s packaged in something they can toss into a recycling bin to be reprocessed and reused once again. Better yet, if that same shopper is able to reuse the container they receive, then the sustainability benefits increase even further. For your business, this may look like switching from non-recyclable foam packing peanuts as your void fill to an easily reprocessed kraft paper that protects your products from harm inside their box. Furthermore, consider primary packaging like glass jars that can be repurposed to store other household goods or a paper mailer that goes directly into the recycling bin. No matter what you choose, be sure to inform your buyers of how to recycle or reuse their packaging. Many consumers report not having enough info on what materials can be recycled and how to do it, which means you need to fill that role and help them out.

Minimize Your Total Packaging Materials

One of the simplest ways to reduce the total amount of packaging waste you create is by reducing the total amount of packaging materials you actually use. When was the last time you did a full audit on your packaging to determine how successful it is? Did you look into factors like how much stretch wrap you use on each pallet or how many rolls of tape your warehouse applies each day? Chances are high that you may be overdoing it on certain packaging materials like stretch film, tape, or strapping, especially if your team applies them by hand instead of with automated packaging equipment. Thoroughly examining how much material you use and how effective it is can work wonders in reducing the total amount of waste you create (and reduce your expenses at the same time!). If you need help with this, give IPS Packaging & Automation a call and we can complete a free needs assessment for you.

wooden toothbrushes packaged in small recyclable corrugated boxes

Source Responsibly

Sometimes it just isn’t possible to reduce the total amount of material you use, but that doesn’t mean you can’t reduce your packaging waste. Instead, look to packaging supplies that can be responsibly sourced and disposed of, as well as tools to help you and your customers minimize waste creation. One such example of this is stretch film. Most stretch wraps are not recyclable or reusable, and usually end up in landfills. However, with options like biodegradable Vanish or fully recyclable Endure machine-grade stretch film, your packaging supplies are put to better use. Another example to consider is the Intimus PacMaster S machine, which shreds corrugate and cardboard to be reused as a custom void fill for your products.

Create a Better Future

Learning how to reduce packaging waste is just one step toward creating a better future for generations to come. Let IPS Packaging & Automation get you started on your journey toward improved sustainability by contacting us today or calling (800) 277-7007.