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Unveiling the Reality of Sustainable Packaging: Beyond a Fairy Tale?

April 22, 2024

In the realm of packaging, the conversation inevitably gravitates toward sustainability. These discussions are commonplace: clients request packaging like waterproof labels with metallic or holographic effects, yet insist these be 100% recyclable—all on a tight budget. 

Although the idea of full sustainability is commendable, the packaging industry currently struggles to meet such ambitious criteria fully.

There’s More to the Story: Diving Deeper into Sustainable Packaging

For over a decade, the focus on sustainable packaging has intensified, highlighting the importance of educating stakeholders about the attainable levels of sustainability. 

Is it possible to obtain a waterproof label with metallic finishes that is also 100% recyclable? Potentially, but likely not within a constrained budget. 

Even with unlimited financial resources, achieving complete sustainability remains a challenge. To assess your packaging's sustainability, consider these critical questions:

  1. Optimization: Is your packaging designed to be as light and compact as possible?
  2. Eco-friendly Materials: Are the inks used low in volatile organic compounds (VOCs)?
  3. Recycling Compatibility: Does the adhesive used allow for easy separation during recycling?

Making Sustainable Packaging Choices Like Goldilocks

While the perfect solution may be elusive, there are numerous sustainable options available today that align with your packaging vision. It’s more about choosing what works best for your brand. 

Many have gone the recycled paper stock route, though it presents limitations related to design aesthetics, and shelf life.  We are probably a few years away from packaging that offers the right combination of being fully sustainable, affordable, protective, and can showcase high-end finishes but we are closer than ever.

Consider these steps to enhance your packaging’s environmental profile:

  • Reduce CO2 Emissions: Minimize your packaging size.
  • Limit Harmful Chemicals: Opt for water-based inks to reduce VOC emissions.
  • Innovative Materials: Engage with printers who are leaders in utilizing advanced materials, such as:
    • Recyclable Shrink Sleeve Film: Made from recycled PET bottles.
    • Tree-Free Stock: Options include hemp and Kona paper.
    • Compostable and Recyclable Flexible Packaging.
    • CleanFlake™ Adhesive: Ensures that labels detach cleanly during recycling, producing pure PET flakes and reducing landfill waste.

The Evolving Landscape of Sustainable Packaging

Although the packaging industry is only beginning to explore the depths of sustainability, significant progress has been made. The gap between what brands desire and what is achievable is narrowing. 

Recent advancements suggest that sustainable packaging isn't merely a fanciful notion but a practical reality that is here to stay. As we continue to innovate and test new materials, the dream of fully sustainable packaging becomes increasingly attainable.

Ready To Upgrade Your Packaging?

If you're currently exploring the path to more sustainable packaging, contact Premium Label & Packaging Solutions today. We have deep domain expertise in the world of sustainable packaging.

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