Tackling Recycling Challenges with Sustainable Packaging Solutions

While consumers are eager to reduce their waste and recycle, recycling can be confusing. Information about exactly what can and cannot be recycled is often conflicting or unclear. As an industry, we need to be making it easy for consumers to reduce waste to landfill, not more challenging. One straightforward way to do this is by making packaging recyclable, especially curbside-recyclable, as this will help consumers make recycling part of their everyday lives.

There’s no question that consumer recycling can improve. Currently, only about 32 percent of waste in the United States gets recycled. With the imminent effects of climate change on everyone’s minds, corporations and consumers alike need to take bold, sustainable action.

However, the role consumers play in the bigger picture is not always easy to understand. That’s why when companies make their products simply and definitively recyclable, consumers can more easily and more confidently take action.

Presented here are some of the challenges associated with recycling and how sustainable products, like Pregis’ sustainable mailers, can help.

The First Hurdle

Recycling standards vary greatly, so consumers have to grapple with different state, city, and community regulations to properly recycle their waste. There is a strong need for common definitions and recycling practices. Increasing the recycling rate can be as easy as supporting consumers with information that will ultimately encourage them to recycle instead of dissuade them with a myriad of rules that change from one location to another and are difficult to understand. Ambiguity is confusing for consumers and will, more times than not, result in materials not getting recycled and heading to landfill. That’s because the everyday consumer is likely unsure of what to do with items that are not clearly labeled as recyclable.

Sustainability experts have found consumers need a little nudge from brands to turn their recycling intentions into action. If a brand or business directly assists the customer with their recycling ambitions, they then take ownership of the task and define what it means to be a sustainable operation while growing a relationship between themselves and the consumer. 

Creating an Everlasting Solution, Not Everlasting Waste

Pregis is tackling this hurdle by taking initiative in the recycling space and putting priority on developing sustainable products, like its EverTec™ mailer. Made primarily from renewable paper material, this mailer is curbside recyclable and the sustainability message behind it is clear: All consumers need to do is place the packaging in their nearest recycling bin — that’s it, it’s that easy.

Making it this easy starts with design. A sustainable packaging product needs to be designed to not only be recyclable, but to protect the goods it carries before needing to be disposed of. In this example of Pregis’ EverTec mailer, it was designed with properties like durability, high-impact resistance, cushioning, puncture resistance and flexibility in mind, all requirements to be truly protective AND sustainable. Sustainable packaging can become a lasting solution that not only protects merchandise but also helps reduce waste with the right design.

Another important design aspect is that the mailers are lightweight and can be shipped flat, creating space for more shipments during transportation and increasing overall delivery efficiency, which means fewer carbon emissions.

How Sustainable Protective Packaging Can Drive Consumer Recycling

Shipping a product without the protection it requires can lead to damages and reshipments, which has environmental consequences by increasing unnecessary waste due to disposing of damaged products and providing replacements, not to mention the increased carbon footprint created when taking into account the emissions from transporting the replacement goods.

Products like the EverTec mailer can replace unnecessary boxes for products that are in need of a more efficient protective packaging solution. Doing so is more than just sustainable — mailers require half of the cost and effort normally needed for manual box applications including freight, which is obviously valuable for business seeking efficiency. EverTec mailers can also be packed four times faster than traditional boxes. It is no surprise that sustainable solutions are often the more economical solutions.

Sustainable Materials Development

This post has been modified from an original post published on the Pregis Knowledge Hub and is printed here with permission.

About the Author: 

Pregis LLC is a global solutions provider of innovative packaging materials, packaging systems, high-performance flexible films and surface protection. We work with customers to find the right packaging solution to solve their toughest business challenges. You can find our products in a wide variety of consumer and industrial market segments, including food, pharmaceuticals, healthcare, agriculture, e-commerce, retail, automotive, transportation, appliances, building, construction, and military/aerospace. For more information: www.pregis.com.

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