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Unlock an eco-friendly workflow with sustainability tips inspired by industry trailblazers
In today’s consumer-driven world, purchases are a daily occurrence for most shoppers, taking place both on and off the internet. The goods we buy are virtually always sold in some sort of protective packaging. Unfortunately, modern packaging options eat into a significant amount of the earth’s natural resources. To make matters worse, the process to manufacture packaging materials often generates greenhouse gases, heavy metals, wastewater, and toxic landfill.
The thought of reversing such a far-reaching problem can be overwhelming. However, it’s important to understand that even minor changes to reduce your environmental footprint can make an immense difference. This is especially true for businesses, whose energy use accounts for nearly 30% of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.
Switching to sustainable packaging and distribution processes is a great place to start. In doing so, you’ll decrease your use of raw materials, mitigate harmful environmental effects, increase worker safety and comfort, and help your company gain the respect of your customers and community.
Starting can be as simple as ditching stickers and styrofoam for more eco-friendly alternatives. Take a look at how five forward-thinking companies have implemented eco-friendly packaging alternatives to benefit both customers and the environment.
International fashion and lifestyle brand, Calvin Klein, has an attitude of gratitude toward the environment. PVH, the global apparel business that owns Calvin Klein, expects the company to use 100% sustainable and ethically sourced packaging materials by 2025, and to reach zero waste by 2030.
PVH was the first apparel company to join the How2Recycle initiative, a labeling system that considers the entire lifecycle of a product and empowers consumers to recycle. By becoming a partner, Calvin Klein provides customers with easy-to-use recycling instructions.
Green tip: When it comes to your warehouse, opt for compostable, reusable, or recyclable material in place of single-use plastic packaging. For an even greater effect, create transparent instructions that encourage consumers to recycle once they receive your green packaging and product.
Patagonia, an outdoor clothing brand, understands that all packaging products they generate affect the environment.
The nature-minded brand has several environmental responsibility programs, each laying the groundwork for how they make recyclable packaging and merchandise.
The Supply Chain Environmental Responsibility Program aims to measure, reduce, and eliminate the environmental impact of Patagonia’s manufacturing. This program prioritizes energy efficiency and renewable electricity by using suppliers that go above and beyond traditional packaging standards and the company’s sustainability requirements. This includes suppliers that offer wastewater and air-emission treatment systems, eliminate hazardous chemicals, and implement safe chemical management procedures.
Green tip: Like Patagonia, be discerning when it comes to choosing your supplier. Work with companies that have similar green goals and will further the sustainability of your supply chain.
Coca-Cola, a multinational beverage company, prides itself on working toward a better future through several sustainable initiatives. In 2018, the company launched World Without Waste, with an objective to:
- Make 100% recyclable packaging by 2025.
- Use at least 50% recycled material in packaging by 2030.
- Recycle or collect a bottle or can for each one sold by 2030.
- Support a healthy, debris-free environment.
Coca-Cola also uses a sustainable lighting strategy called “daylighting” to reduce its facilities’ carbon footprint. This approach uses daylight tubes and clearstory glass to channel light into distribution centers, enabling buildings to operate with zero artificial lighting.
Green tip: Lighting is one of the largest energy consumers in a warehouse. Not only will using natural light reduce your energy use, but it will also increase the attendance, productivity, and satisfaction of your employees. If changing your lighting strategy isn’t in the cards, start with smaller steps like turning off lights when they’re not in use, installing motion-sensing systems, and removing fixtures in areas that already have sufficient lighting.
ASOS is an e-commerce fashion and cosmetics giant. This company strives to ship sustainably by cutting back on packaging waste. By using a variety of different-sized bags and boxes, and always switching to the next-smallest packaging option, ASOS has cut the average carbon footprint of their mailing bags by 27% and mailing boxes by 33%. — proof that even the smallest changes in packaging can make a huge difference.
Green tip: Invest in packaging designs that use minimal material. Using less material for plastic bags or shipping boxes will reduce the product cost and require less energy for the manufacturing and packaging processes.
JuneShine is a hard kombucha company determined to lessen its environmental impact. From treating their wastewater to utilizing eco-friendly packaging options, the company is working toward becoming a leader in sustainable brewing.
Merging innovation with sustainability, JuneShine replaced the plastic wrap used to secure its keg pallets with large rubber bands. By reusing the bands for new kegs, the company has successfully reduced the amount of plastic in its supply chain.
Green tip: Be creative when it comes to sustainable warehousing. Like JuneShine, examine the areas in your warehouse that require excessive plastic or use significant energy, and brainstorm ideas for green substitutes.
Going green: the win-win solution
Whether your company is a small startup or a booming enterprise, there’s no doubt that building a green warehouse and employing sustainable packaging solutions is a worthwhile investment. From lower production costs to happy customers and employees, eco-friendly products are a win-win for all parties involved. Companies that value sustainability report enhanced employee satisfaction, motivation, productivity, and a sense of belonging.
With the future of our planet in mind, educate your staff on the packaging industry and how your company can incorporate efforts to use recycled plastic and reusable packaging. Then, create your own custom packaging and warehouse strategies to take your sustainability status to the next level.