5 Tips to Create Eco-Friendly Packaging


Customers expect a lot from their brands and as environmental issues become more and more pressing, they want to work with companies that do their part. 

Simple changes to your packaging can go a long way. From using biodegradable materials to encouraging reuse, you can make adjustments that will be good for both the planet and your bottom line. We’ve put together a list of ways to make product packaging eco-friendly to help you get there, so you can appeal to more customers and make a valuable impact.

Why Use Eco-Friendly Packaging?

Before we get into how you can be more sustainable with your packaging, let’s take a look at why you should. 

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), packaging made up over 28% of total municipal solid waste in 2018. Product manufacturers have a significant role to play in conserving resources and reducing the amount of waste in landfills.

Consumers may not have weighed in on packaging for their goods in the past. However, today they’re putting their money where it counts. Most consumers are willing to spend more money on environmentally friendly products, and 40% would boycott a company that wasn’t eco-conscious. 

Sustainable product packaging isn’t just good for the planet — it’s also necessary for your brand’s image. Today’s customers want to align themselves with companies that share their values. Eco-friendly packaging is just one way to show them that you take your commitment to the planet seriously.

How to Create Eco-Friendly Packaging

Sustainable packaging comes in many different forms, with modern technologies that suit a wide range of product types. From food and drink to electronics and housewares, environmentally friendly product packaging is available for virtually every kind of product. 

Whatever you sell, here are a few sustainable packaging ideas you can use to reduce the environmental impact of your business.

1. Implement Returnable or Reusable Packaging

One of the tenants of sustainability is finding a way to reuse materials. Try packaging your products in more durable or attractive containers that customers could use in new ways. Instead of sending your product’s packaging to a recycling facility or landfill, customers can repurpose it for other uses first. For example, flimsy plastic packaging doesn’t have much opportunity for reuse. Changing your packaging to a glass jar lets the customer reuse it to store food, organize miscellaneous items or decorate their home. 

Other novel solutions include:

  • Using shipping boxes as storage containers.
  • Sending products like cleaners and beauty products in a concentrated form, so the customer just has to add water.
  • Packaging products in reusable totes

Another option is to create a return program where customers send in their used packaging for a discount code or rewards points. Offering an incentive helps ensure that the packaging gets back to you so you can responsibly recycle or reuse it.

2. Minimize Packaging

Many companies overdo their packaging, choosing to include unnecessary, unsustainable components. Instead, try a minimalistic approach to your packaging. Consider what packaging elements your product really needs to arrive in good condition and meet your business goals. Many customers appreciate the simplicity of minimalistic packaging and its eco-friendly impact.

Another thing to watch for is extra space in your packaging that calls for void-fillers like packing peanuts or plastics. Custom packaging can help you avoid these spaces and the need for additional materials — plus, it’s a great branding opportunity.

3. Eliminate Unnecessary Extras

In line with the minimalist approach above, it’s helpful to evaluate your packaging and remove any unnecessary components. For example, you can limit paper inserts by printing instructions on the box or including a QR code on your packaging, directing customers to more information. 

Consider your product’s components as well to determine whether customers are actually using everything you include. There may be additional parts that only some of your customers will need. If so, you can consider having them “opt-in” to certain accessories when they buy.

4. Make Your Packaging Solutions Biodegradable or Compostable

Biodegradable and compostable packaging are great ways to help meet your environmental goals without compromising. These materials break down in the right conditions, letting customers take an active role in their sustainable efforts beyond a trip to the recycling plant. While recycling is great, biodegradable and compostable are better.

  • Compostable: All compostable products are also biodegradable. A compostable product is made of organic elements that can degrade in a composting environment. They produce rich soil, ideal for plant life. 
  • Biodegradable: Only some biodegradable products are compostable. Biodegradable products often refer to plastics. Although biodegradable plastics still break down, they can leave waste in the form of microplastics.

Biodegradable and compostable materials are now available as strong competitors to traditional packaging materials. You can get eco-friendly packaging that still offers vibrant designs and protective features to keep your product protected all the way to the customer.

5. Help Your Customers Reduce, Reuse and Recycle

Once you’ve decided to pursue eco-friendly packaging, your customers may still need a little guidance. Try giving them ideas for how they can reuse your packaging or ways for them to handle it responsibly. 

You might give instructions on how to compost it or send it back to you for responsible recycling. If you go for eco-friendly packaging with cardboard, this could be as simple as telling customers to include it in their local recycling. Make these instructions very clear and easy to find. You can even use a blog or email blast to share ideas on cleverly DIYing their old packaging.

You can also try to get customers to buy more products at a time to help reduce the necessary shipping materials and help you minimize the carbon footprint associated with transit.

Go Eco-Friendly With Innovative Packaging Co.

If you’re looking to use more eco-friendly packaging solutions, IPC can help. With our range of sustainable material options and custom packaging, we can help you limit your carbon footprint, appeal to more customers and do your part for the planet. Our dedicated team will work with you every step of the way to produce creative, effective packaging solutions that meet the needs of your product and help you reach your business goals.

Reach out to us today to learn more about custom sustainable packaging solutions or request a quote for custom packaging from IPC.