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Sustainable packaging

02.03.2020 | By Katherine Stolin | 4 min. read

Tips and tricks to make your freight packaging more sustainable

Ready to fight climate change from within the freight shipping industry? If you’re looking for ways to reduce the environmental impact of your supply chain, there’s no quicker or easier solution than implementing sustainable packaging into your processes. 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, 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.

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 a greener 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 sustainability advice

If this all seems overwhelming at first glance — 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 need 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 carbon neutral shipping option to get your goods from point A to point B. Flock Freight is the only logistics provider that guarantees carbon neutral shared truckload (STL) service at the time of booking, with FlockDirect™️. When you book FlockDirect, our proprietary algorithms match your freight with other shipments that are going the same direction, optimizing loads based on route and finding one truck that can haul them together, saving up to 40% on shipping emissions in the process. Then, Flock Freight purchases carbon offsets to neutralize the greenhouse gas emissions used during each shipment’s transit. The result? Each FlockDirect shipment has a net-zero environmental impact, making Flock Freight the only shipping company that guarantees carbon neutral shipping for no extra cost.

On its own, shared truckload is the most environmentally friendly shipping mode — compared to LTL, TL and partials — because it optimizes trailer space, eliminates wasted miles, and skips energy-intensive LTL facilities. Moving freight on a more direct route means slashing carbon emissions from unnecessary mileage. Plus, by skipping onloading and offloading at terminals, STL service’s lower risk of damage reduces the environmental costs of remanufacturing broken goods. It’s a win-win situation, for you and for the planet.

Whether your company is looking into emissions reduction projects, wants to go green, or is on the path to carbon neutrality, Flock Freight is here to help.


Reach out today to learn how Flock Freight can put your company in the green.