Staying in-synch with commercial cycles requires adaptability, so successful modern packaging companies are highly responsive to industry shifts and consumer preferences. In order to stay a step ahead of competitors, it is increasingly important for today’s producers and their packaging partners to employ balanced practices that account for the public interest, convenience, health and safety, as well as ecological responsibility and commitments to sustainability.
It is a tall order, even for seasoned providers, but innovative packagers are finding ways to streamline, economize, and embrace eco-friendly standards.
As packaging evolves, lighter, yet durable versions are needed, containing everything from beverages and other liquids to gels, lotions, pastes, and rigid goods, bound for the freezer, fridge, and family pantry. Lightweight packaging carries several advantages for those who use it, including ecological benefits, when modern technology and materials are used to reduce the overall impact of various forms of consumer packaging. Reducing package mass by lightweighting, for example, remains a trend to watch, especially within consumer-driven food packaging markets.
Reducing Weight and Conserving Materials
Creating lightweight packaging is one way producers and co-packers are adapting to ecological demands. It’s a distinct strategy, which should not be lumped-in with other environmental campaigns. Though it shares a common goal with practices like source reduction and waste consciousness, lightweighting specifically refers to the ability to create lighter, more efficient versions of a particular package, whereby the end result is a lighter version of the original – rather than an entirely new form of packaging.
In practice, packaging selections are closely tied to the bottom line – for producers, as well as wholesalers and merchants responsible for marketing and selling goods. In competitive, cost-conscious markets, economical packaging alternatives, and containers capable of trimming costs throughout the supply chain are in-demand, challenging industry innovators to step-up with effective low-cost solutions. Lightweighting has gained favor for economic reasons, in addition to the ecological values the responsible packaging practice promotes. Reduced costs are made possible by lower material consumption and greater shipping efficiency, which both benefit the environment and increase profitability.
As a cost reduction strategy, lightweighting is not a revolutionary concept. After all, packaging solutions have traditionally been based on bringing the most cost-effective options to the marketplace, without compromising quality and effectiveness. However, modern consumers’ concern for the environment and commitment to sustainability give packagers additional reasons to embrace efficiently produced, lightweight packaging alternatives, which ultimately leads to lower costs. The most effective packaging campaigns find the proper balance between packaging effectiveness, efficiency, and the overall consumer experience – which remains the central concern for most stakeholders. Partnering with an experienced contract packager ensures stability and continuity within the supply chain, but it also yields gains for companies seeking cost-effective, lightweighting innovation.
Using fewer raw materials is a legitimate nod to environmental concerns, but eco-friendly packaging must not come at the expense of durability, ease of use, and product protection.
Each package should serve its primary function, before lightweighting and source reduction measures are applied.
Flimsy pouches and PET bottles do not furnish workable cost-savings when consumer confidence suffers. In fact, the heightened demand for portable containers and the convenience they provide, themselves warrants durable, highly functional packaging, especially for food products. Fortunately, better barriers and films are now available, including agricultural resins that further contribute to packaging sustainability. Using these bio-based materials can result in as much as a 70% reduction in fuel consumption when compared to other production methods.
Spouted pouches, gusseted stand-up sacks, and other flexible packaging alternatives are increasingly replacing hard-sided bottles and rigid containers, responding to users’ needs and changing the packaging landscape. The durable options are less expensive to transport than heavier counterparts, and breakage during shipment can also be reduced, by incorporating the right barriers into each pouch.
Reducing package weight and using eco-friendly materials represent sustainable strategies capable of reducing costs for producers and progressive packagers.
Packaging Life Cycle
Before reducing their carbon footprint, consumer companies must first understand the impact and progression of packages and materials through the cycles of production, consumption and disposal. Lightweighting is a single aspect of the packaging industry’s commitment to greater environmental responsibility. In addition to reducing overall package mass, big-picture analysts endorse a holistic approach, measuring packaging’s impact throughout its life cycle.
One packaging efficiency model looks at five specific concerns, assessing particular packaging features to measure overall efficacy. The following metrics enable analysts to compare and contrast various packaging approaches:
- Resources used to create the package
- Level of product protection provides
- Display and transport efficiency
- Contributes to a positive customer experience
- End of life impact
Ideal packaging solutions represent the correct balance between features. Successful lightweight packages cover fundamentals like product protection and merchandising requirements, while simultaneously elevating the consumer experience, with convenient, affordable, flexible, and portable packaging alternatives.
Prevailing values drive industry trends, so today’s successful contract packaging companies are aligned with modern shoppers’ values, including emerging ecological concerns. Lightweighting is one reasonable approach used by packagers to reduce the environmental impact of consumer packaging, but it is only one aspect of a larger campaign toward sustainability. Applied correctly, the practice effectively reduces the mass of packages, while trimming costs for producers.
Successful lightweight packaging calls-upon new, improved designs to outperform their predecessors, using less material to get the job done. As the packaging industry innovators continue to push the envelope, technological advances, improved production practices, and ongoing research ensure ongoing lightweighting gains.