How Flexible Packaging Saves the Environment

14 May 2020

The popularity of flexible packaging is continuing to grow in the US packaging industry as more manufacturers are realizing the variety of benefits transitioning to this design provides for both companies and consumers. Increased awareness is occurring regarding the sustainability of flexible packaging and its ability to reduce carbon footprints. Along with benefitting manufacturers and consumers, the environment is also positively affected in numerous ways from fewer natural resources going into production and less energy consumption to longer shelf life and more room in our landfills. The following points help manufacturers and consumers explore the environmental benefits of flexible packaging.

Less Energy and Fewer Natural Resources

The total life cycle of flexible packaging is quite impressive as its production requires less energy and the use of fewer natural resources when compared to other packaging materials. Because of the lightweight consistency of flexible packaging, less material is needed to package products overall, which has many benefits in itself, such as increased strength and durability due to the type of barrier film(s) incorporated. During the production process, flexible packaging uses fewer resources, including water and fossil fuel, which significantly benefits the environment. Fewer trucks and pallets are required to transport and store flexible packaging materials as well as products that are packaged heading to vendors.

Due to the materials utilized in flexible packaging, products are easily stackable and compact, which allows for easy transportation meaning energy consumption is reduced as well as the use of other valuable natural resources. Manufacturers can choose between a stand-up pouch or a lay-flat pouch depending on what’s best for their product and how they would like it advertised on shelves. When designing your flexible packaging with The Packaging Lab, you will have multiple types of barrier films to choose from to ensure your product is protected and conserved in the most practical way.

  • Thick Gauge Clear
  • Thick Gauge White
  • Medium Gauge Clear
  • Medium Gauge White
  • Medium Gauge Metalized
  • Thin Gauge Clear

Lower CO₂ Emissions

Analyzing the carbon footprint of your packaging system is incredibly important as it allows you to account for the amount of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that are emitted throughout the lifespan of the production. Many don’t realize how much your carbon footprint is affected with simple tasks such as shorting the number of products delivered to a vendor and having to send a second truck. Some greenhouse gases to be aware of when reviewing your packaging system are:

  • Manufacturing
  • Transportation
  • Storage
  • Use and Reuse Phases
  • End-of-Life Disposal

Since flexible packaging requires less transportation and is easily compacted, it will need fewer storage capabilities, and fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions are drastically reduced. Flexible packaging provides manufacturers with space-saving advantages that affect much more than one may think. Fewer transportation needs mean not as many truck drivers are required, in turn, reducing vehicle maintenance and one of the costliest aspects of product manufacturing – shipping and receiving costs.

Higher Product-to-Package Ratio

We know transportation space and shipping costs are costly, but transitioning your products to flexible packaging will result in a higher product-to-package ratio. This is beneficial for manufacturers as they have the opportunity to get more products to consumers using fewer materials. Most of the flexible packaging designs include labeling and incorporate resealable designs meaning the cost of labeling or capping will be nonexistent. Resealable functions and added layers to any flexible packaging design encourage reusability and produce a more reliable material which decreases losses in damage or tampering. Additionally, due to the lightweight consistency of flexible packaging, the cost of shipping both domestically and internationally will become more affordable.

Longer Shelf Life

The shelf life of food products is very important to both consumers and manufacturers. Consumers look for specific features on their products that allow the product to keep its quality both on the shelf and once it reaches households. By implementing flexible packaging into your product sales, consumers are more likely to purchase your product as an extended shelf life means cost-savings for them. A longer shelf life also decreases waste by lessening the number of food products ending up in landfills and reduces the amount of global greenhouse gases emitted. Most flexible packaging products are designed with an extra layer on the inside of the packaging that protects your product from unwanted moisture, vapors, and dust. This feature allows for a quality product to reach consumers every time and can be recognized on many products in the consumer market today, from pet food to health and beauty supplies.

Less Landfill Space

Flexible packaging helps decrease the number of materials going to landfills in two ways, less food waste, and less packaging materials. The materials used in flexible packaging help extend the shelf life of many perishable food products and other items, meaning consumers are more likely able to eat or use the product until it’s gone rather than disposing of outdated or spoiled items. Since many flexible packaging designs incorporate resealable features such as press-to-seal and zippers, many consumers are more likely to keep the packaging to reuse with other products or household items. With consumers being encouraged to reuse flexible packaging, fewer packaging materials are ending up in the landfill, meaning there’s more room for other items.

Create Your Flexible Packaging Design

With sustainability and zero waste lifestyles on the rise, many consumers are translating those interests into the products they purchase. Consumers are more likely to buy your product if your packaging is environmentally friendly and has sustainable features. Flexible packaging helps save the environment and reduce carbon footprints of both manufacturers and consumers by utilizing fewer natural resources in production and lowering energy consumption to opening space in our landfills and providing consumers with products that will last. If you’re thinking about making the transition to flexible packaging, it’s encouraged to explore all the benefits it offers as the environment is just a start.