Biodegradable and Sustainable Packaging for a Better World

Around 80% of what we throw away can be recycled, yet only 28% of it actually is. The discrepancy between these numbers is vast, but environmentally conscious brands can help close the gap. How? By committing to eco-friendly packaging options that encourage customers to recycle, and eco-friendly packaging that uses biodegradable or recyclable materials.

Research shows that almost 80% of consumers and more than 70% of brand owners prefer products with sustainable & biodegradable packaging. That’s why many well-known and emerging brands have launched eco-friendly initiatives to eliminate waste and reduce the use of single-use plastics and other nonrecyclable materials used for product packaging. 

Eco-packaging aims to save the environment with recyclable and biodegradable options. For example, brands that use eco-friendly paper packaging can reduce greenhouse gas emissions, extend the supply of wood fiber, and save landfill space. In this article, you can read about biodegradable packaging options and the rise of biodegradable packaging across industries.

Types of biodegradable packaging materials

  • Paper & Cardboard

If you’re trying to save money while saving the environment, paperboard and cardboard are the way to go. They’re classic packaging materials that are lightweight, versatile, and inexpensive. They can be recycled as long as they haven’t been contaminated with food, water, or oil, but they’re also naturally biodegradable and will break down over time. With paperboard and cardboard packaging, there are endless design options for any brand aesthetic, and food-grade paper-based packaging is a great solution for CPG brands looking to reduce plastic waste. 

  • Cornstarch

Cornstarch packaging is made from natural plant materials by mixing cornstarch base and modified biopolymers. It is biodegradable with a minimized negative environmental impact, and a good option for packaging items with limited use, like takeout food. Cornstarch can also be used to protect products during shipping.

  • Bioplastics

Biodegradable plastics are made from natural, plant-based byproducts (like bamboo or hemp) rather than fossil fuels. While bioplastics are generally more eco-friendly than traditional plastics and produce significantly less greenhouse gas emissions, they can cause more harm than good if not recycled properly. They are also a more expensive option opposed to paper-based packaging options.

The Rise of Biodegradable Packaging

Today, many industries are embracing the advantages of biodegradable packaging, from bio cosmetics, to eco-friendly food packaging. Although many industries still depend on unsustainable packaging materials, standout brands are making an effort to enhance their image by choosing eco-friendly packaging, sending an instant message to the customer regarding the brand’s values and ideals. Customers are becoming more concerned about the state of the environment and are making more purchases based on the product’s packaging. There are plenty of sustainable alternatives to plastic packaging, like glass jars, wooden containers, paper wrappings and bags, cardboard boxes, and eco-friendly paper for packaging.

Two-thirds of consumers are willing to pay more for brands promoting sustainability. Therefore, the benefits of biodegradable packaging are many—brands can protect the environment, attract a loyal customer base, and sell more product. That’s why it’s important to partner with a packaging supplier that is aware of environmentally friendly practices. Check with potential partners to determine if they have eco-certifications such as SFI, FSC, and PEFC certificates.

For tips on designing innovative packaging that is sustainable and eco-friendly, be sure to check out this Ultimate Guide to Creative Packaging by the laminates and coatings company, Case Makes. It shares examples of brands from various industries that are creating some pretty amazing, eco-conscious packaging.

Infographic created by
Chicago Tag & Label, a custom label printing company