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The lifespan of packaging stretches from the extraction of raw materials across several processing stages and all the way to disposal.
Each of these stages requires an input of material and energy, and causes an output of waste and emissions.
This selection of tips will help you to recognise and minimise the direct and indirect environmental effects of your packaging, and improve both ecological and economical aspects simultaneously.
When selecting your packaging supplier, pay attention to the ecological aspects of their production processes. Eco-balances can provide precise information on the environmental effects of packaging. Analysing the CO2 footprint can highlight areas where emissions can be reduced.
Pay attention to transport routes when selecting your packaging supplier. The greater the distance to your supplier, the more traffic and therefore CO2 they will create on the road.
Look for alternatives to packaging made from fossil resources. Choose packaging with a high proportion of recycled material. Look for paper that has been produced from wood from sustainable forestry (FSC® recycling label, eco label of the German Corrugated Cardboard Association (VDW)).
Check whether it is possible to reduce the size and weight of the packaging. Low weight does not necessarily mean maximum protection however. For this reason, make sure that a reduced packaging design does not jeopardise the protective function.
Be sensible when grouping different packaging sizes. Ensure that the size can still meet requirements. Reducing the complexity of packaging can also help save costs. Filling materials like Styropor or film can often be reduced or replaced by more environmentally friendly solutions.
Smart packaging formats and standardised basic designs (FEFCO) create efficient logistical processes (e.g. through low material consumption in production). This also helps simplify the manufacturing process and keeps costs down (see the FEFCO catalogue for more information).
Packaging that effectively advertises the product increases sales and should therefore be designed accordingly. Check however whether it is possible to reduce the number of colours in the design. Make sure that your packaging supplier uses inks that do not contain harmful solvents.
Logistics can often be made more efficient by modularising the basic dimensions (length and width). Being able to fit more products on each pallet makes it possible to transport a greater load in each truck, therefore reducing the damage to the environment.
Modern packaging machines and palletising systems are more efficient, enable greater flexibility and reduce the reject rate. The processability and machine suitability of the packaging is important, in order to keep the reject rate low and utilise the packaging machines as efficiently as possible.
Select order quantities in a way that reduces or eliminates residual stock due to packaging changes and reissues.
Configure your packaging in such a way that makes it easy to recycle. Avoid packaging made from multiple materials so that the components and materials can be separated again.