The movement toward eco-friendly packaging that began among progressive consumer packaged goods brands a few years back is now reaching further into the mainstream CPG world. Today, an increasing number of marketers from a wide array of consumer brands have not only embraced sustainable packaging, but are pushing innovation in exciting new directions.
Let’s be clear: the move is not simply an altruistic one, but driven by consumer demand. According to a recent global survey by Accenture, 83% of people believe it’s important or extremely important for companies to design products that are meant to be reused or recycled, and 72% of said they’re currently buying more environmentally friendly products than they were five years ago; another 81% said they expect to buy more eco-friendly products over the next five years.
In 2020, it’s not enough to simply slap a label indicating the use of recycled materials to stand out in an increasingly crowded field, especially among particularly skeptical millennial and Gen Z consumers. The bar is getting higher by the day, and these are just three emerging trends to watch when it comes to eco-friendly packaging:
Plant-based packaging. We’re all eating more plant-based food, but products are increasingly coming to us wrapped in materials such as banana skins, cornstarch or bamboo as well. Pizza Round is a packaging product for takeout/delivery restaurants made of sugarcane and bamboo, both renewable raw materials. Also, because of its shape, Pizza Round doesn’t need to be folded, reducing waste, space and labor.
Similarly, furniture retailer Ikea announced this year it will be replacing its styrofoam packaging with a compostable mushroom-based packaging material called MycoComposite for all its products.
Edible packaging. This trend is absolutely leading the way when it comes to waste reduction. Ooho, for example, is an edible drink capsule made from Notpla, a material created from seaweed. The capsules can contain any type of drink, eliminates the need for plastic bottles, and doesn't require farmland to grow, which reduces hazards to the environment caused by irrigation and fertilizing.
While this isn’t a mainstream packaging solution quite yet, there is significant innovation happening in this space that promises some exciting future benefits.
Reusable packaging. Reducing the volume of plastic in the world’s oceans is a key goal for many sustainability-driven brands. A growing number of companies have found a solution by offering bath and body products in aluminum bottles that can be sent back to be refilled with products again and again, allowing consumers to save money and cut down on waste. You can also choose whether or not you'd like to add a plastic pump, which helps cut down ongoing consumption.
Another startup called Loop has been lauded for effectively “bringing back the old milkman model,” where products are delivered to customers at the same time empties are picked up.
With climate change a growing global crisis, recycling, upcycling, and waste management are all issues that brands need to be thinking about when it comes to packaging, and we’re excited to see how the sector continues to evolve.