What do we mean by "Sustainable Packaging"?
We try not to take ourselves too seriously all of the time but when it comes to this topic we like to be serious. We are not going to tell you that we have the perfect sustainable packaging model because in our opinion nobody does. This is because sustainability is difficult to measure and always evolving.
Sustainable packaging is not just about using packaging that can be recycled. It also means looking at how the packaging is sourced and manufactured and how we actually use the packaging at different stages (for example, are we using too much packaging at our end and are you recycling the packaging at your end). At its core, sustainable packaging solutions are those that have minimal environmental impact and footprint.
Why does sustainable packaging need continual review?
We recognise that it is important to continually reassess our approach to sustainable packaging. To give a simple explanation of why, we can point to examples of internal factors and external factors that illustrate how a sustainable packaging approach today might not equal a sustainable packaging approach tomorrow.
When we say internal factors, we mean things that we can control. For example, a more sustainable packaging material might become available that we can switch to. Or, as another example, we might be able to source our packaging materials elsewhere to try and reduce our carbon footprint.
When we say external factors, we mean things out of our control. For example as technology develops and better methods for recycling are created, packaging materials that are not sustainable today might end up being sustainable in the future. Or, as another example, as new studies are brought to light it might become apparent that a material considered sustainable today is not actually as sustainable as we think.
The key takeaway here is that sustainable packaging is not a destination or an end goal; it is a journey or something to aim for. As strange as it sounds, sustainable packaging can always be more sustainable and what seems sustainable today might not be sustainable tomorrow (and vice versa). Because of this, we try our best to be transparent with our own approach and we are always looking at ways to better ourselves.
About Our Ethical Tagging System
We created an ethical tagging system to help you understand the impact our products have on the world. On each product’s page on our website, we highlight the ethical tags that apply to that product so you can better understand how that exact product is ethically sourced.
One aspect of this is the sustainability of our packaging. As part of our sustainable packaging initiative we are always looking for ways to improve. We have our own system to help us with this and part of that involves ranking how sustainably packaged we consider each product we send out. This ranking is based on various factors such as packaging materials, amount of packaging used, and the source of packaging. For transparency, we decided to let you see how we rank packaging sustainability for each of our products using a tiered tagging system and you can find the appropriate tag on each individual product page on our website.
Sustainable Packaging – Platinum Tier: Learn More
This is our highest tier and you won’t ever find a product with this tag. So why do we have it? Well, we think it is important to keep it around to remind us that there is always room for improvement, especially as advances in sustainability come around, and it gives us a good nudge to make sure we are even asking ourselves how we can improve the packaging sustainability of our gold tier tagged products.
Sustainable Packaging – Gold Tier: Learn More
If a product has a gold tier tag then it means that we are giving ourselves a pat on the back because we have taken big steps to make sure this product is sustainability packaged. Usually this will mean the product is packaged with 90-100% recyclable materials.
Sustainable Packaging – Silver Tier: Learn More
This is obviously a step down from the gold tier but we still consider the product to be sustainably packaged. This tier means we are using recyclable packaging materials where we can but we are also using some non-recyclable packaging materials for justifiable reasons. For example, we might be having to use some non-sustainable packaging such as polystyrene because it is the best way for us to ensure our product arrives without damage.
Sustainable Packaging – Bronze Tier: Learn More
This is our lowest tier and it means we don’t consider a product to be sustainably packaged. If a product is marked down to a bronze tier then we make it a priority to actively look at ways to improve the packaging sustainability for the product. Since we do our job well, it is not often that you will find a product in this tier.
What packaging materials do we use and are they sustainable?
We won’t go into too much detail about how sustainable our different packaging materials are because there are always new studies being done and new manufacturing techniques being introduced and, to be frank, we don’t want to put you off reading by presenting you with a wall of text. Instead we will give you an overview of the key packaging materials we use and an outline of how sustainable we consider each one.
Cardboard is our main packaging material. Every product we send out is in a cardboard box or a paper envelope. It is a great sustainable packaging material because it is 100% recyclable and biodegradable.
Although bubble wrap is recyclable we also try to use packing paper and shredded cardboard as a packaging material when we are confident that it is going to do the job just as well. This is because it is more easily recyclable at this point in time and it is still better as a material because it is also 100% biodegradable.
Not everyone realises that bubble wrap is a recyclable material because in the past it has been difficult to find recycle points due to the lack of a suitable recycling infrastructure. However, as recycling technologies and initiatives have improved some councils now offer a household collection for the recycling of bubble wrap alongside plastic film and carrier bags. Alternatively, bubble wrap can be recycled along with plastic film and carrier bags at collection points such as supermarkets.
Polystyrene is not a very sustainable packaging material because current technology makes it difficult to recycle (albeit this is hopefully going to change one day). This means that typically the material ends up in general waste bins, which then enters land fill. Although there are some alternatives to polystyrene they are not always as suitable and we need to be mindful of balancing our sustainable packaging goals with delivering products that are not damaged. For this reason, we still use polystyrene in some of our packaging albeit we try to keep it to a minimum.
How else do we target sustainable packaging?
As well as trying to use sustainable packaging materials, we are also actively taking other actions to target our sustainable packaging goals.
We try to raise awareness with regards to sustainable packaging. Admittedly, the power lies with us more than you because we are in the position to choose the packaging we use and how we source it. However, that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t give you a nudge on your end to recycle the packaging too. If you are reading this now then we hope this might stick in your mind. We also try to be transparent with our approach to sustainable packaging because we want you to understand the level of our sustainability (since we don’t believe anyone has a 100% sustainable packaging model) and we want you to understand what we plan on doing to continually improve our own approach.
Using Less Packaging
There is a fine balance to be found in using less packaging and making sure products arrive undamaged. Even though the majority of our packaging materials are recyclable, this doesn’t mean we shouldn’t still try to use less of them. This isn’t just about using less packaging materials though. By using smaller packaging we are helping to reduce our carbon footprint because more product can be sent out at once and this can reduce the number of journeys needed by our couriers.
How do we plan on improving our packaging sustainability?
The obvious way to improving our packaging sustainability is to use more sustainable materials. We continually look at the way we package our products and we test out new packaging materials that we think might be more sustainable.
Raise More Awareness
We try to present the right level of information on our website so that it is concise enough to keep your attention and detailed enough to raise your awareness. We are currently looking into other ways to encourage our customer’s to recycle our packaging materials and we are looking at other ways to raise awareness through our online platforms too.
We are always looking into ways we can improve the sustainability of our packaging. If you have any feedback, ideas, or suggestions yourself then we would love to hear from you – please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.