New technologies and packaging innovations have revolutionized the potential shipping of consumer goods with minimum carbon impact, and recyclable packaging materials are at the forefront of this movement.
From compostable packaging to bioplastics, finding sustainable packaging solutions is a lot easier than you think, and many of these items offer even more benefits up the value chain than you’d initially realize.
Here are some quick and easy ways you can introduce sustainable packaging products and methods into your shipping process.
Use Corrugated Pallets
Standard wood pallets are often difficult and expensive to dispose of; many landfills now reject their acceptance entirely.
Switching to industrial corrugated pallets is a fast and easy step toward a more sustainable packaging process.
They’re 100% recyclable, and reputable manufacturers will source their paper from responsibly managed forestry sources and use recycled material themselves - so you’re not only reducing your own carbon footprint but also supporting a handful of other businesses down the supply chain who are doing their part to conserve resources.
Plus, you get the built-in benefit of added cost savings. Corrugated pallets weigh far less than wood, so your shipping fees plummet. Since they’re smaller and easier to handle, you also conserve warehouse space and handling costs. And best of all, they’re less expensive to manufacture, so your outright purchase cost goes down, too.
Change Up Your Fillers
Toss out those harmful styrofoam packing peanuts: There’s a better way to insulate and protect your goods during transit. Styrofoam is not only unable to be recycled, but it’s also a petroleum-based material - which means it generates an even more extreme carbon output during its manufacturing process.
Instead, opt for materials made from renewable sources, and preferably ones that can be recycled… or even composted! Like the pallets mentioned above, there are corrugated inserts for just about any size, shape, and weight of goods you can imagine. You could also opt for a foam-based alternative like Mushroom packaging, made from hemp and mycelium (a mushroom-like fungus) and entirely compostable - so you’re not only taking less from the earth, you’re also giving back in the process.
Find SPC-Certified Materials
The Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC) is an organization of experts and business partners committed to using eco-friendly shipping materials and processes throughout their supply chain. Part of the nonprofit GreenBlue, the SPC looks for ways to increase society’s use of sustainable materials while simultaneously reducing the consumption of ecologically harmful goods and services. As stated in their overall mission, materials must be responsibly sourced, efficiently reused or recycled, free of toxic chemicals, and of low impact on the planet.
Download the Paper: Definition of Sustainable Packaging
In addition to public events and educational collateral to help guide partners on techniques for reducing their environmental footprint through packaging choices, the SPC also provides forums where companies can talk to one another and find sources for more sustainable packaging options. Companies that are SPC-certified can display the coalition’s logo on their materials, helping you make informed decisions on choosing like-minded partners for your packaging needs.
Trade Plastic for Plants
Cardboard can go a long way, but some shipped goods need a stronger moisture barrier that many renewable packaging sources find tough to accommodate. Plastic packaging has been the tried-and-true solution, but it poses ecological problems in both its manufacturing process as well as its ability to be recycled, depending on the materials used. So what’s a shipper to do?
The answer: Plants! Microfibrillated Cellulose (or MFC) is a material derived entirely from plant byproducts. It’s proven to be more damage-resistant than both carbon fiber and glass, but more lightweight (reducing your shipping costs!) and breathable while still providing a strong moisture barrier. It’s, therefore, an excellent alternative for shipping food, refrigerated items, and other perishable CPGs.
Turn to the Kitchen
Mushrooms aren’t the only culinary ingredient ripe for repurposing in your sustainable packaging plan. Cornstarch has emerged as an alternative for plastic-like materials due to its similar properties and can be found in products ranging from eco-friendly bottles to packing peanuts.
For your labels and printed materials, soy-based inks provide the same quality and sharpness as their petroleum-based counterparts but with an infinitely more renewable source coupled with the ability to be recycled.
Get Expert Advice
If at first blush this all of seems overwhelming - figuring out which elements to implement into your supply chain, how to do it, how much it’ll cost, etc. - we get it. With everything you already have to consider when it comes to shipping your freight, it’s completely understandable if you simply don’t know where to start.
That’s where the experts at Flock Freight come in. Our team of logistics professionals can partner with you to advise on the right shipping and packaging solutions for your freight, as well as offer a more sustainable way to get your goods from Point A to Point B.
With our FlockDirect service, your shipment travels straight to its destination via hubless pooling on full truckload service. A more efficient route means less carbon output, and a lower risk of damage reduces the harmful costs of remanufacturing broken goods. It’s a win-win situation, for you and for Mother Earth.
Note: This article was originally published on the Flock Freight Blog