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Essentials about Sustainable packaging

If you have come this far, you may have a brand or company that wants to make the leap to sustainable packaging to reduce its impact on the environment and update its brand image, from the packaging point of view.

Throughout this article we are going to tell you everything you need to know about sustainable packaging, what materials exist for this type of packaging, and we will show you examples of sustainable packaging for different companies, regardless of the sector they are.

Because, let’s be honest. The times of the linear economy that consisted of manufacturing-consuming-throwing away are over. Sustainable packaging is just the tip of the iceberg of a new economic model based on the so-called circular economy: reduce, reuse, replace, renew and recycle.

Let’s dive into the world of eco-friendly packaging, created from sustainable packaging materials, so you can see the benefits it can have for your brand and how you can apply it to your business, but … before going too deep, do you know what ‘sustainable packaging’ really means?

Pre-glued sleeve and flat sleeve blank


What is sustainable packaging?

Ecological, organic, sustainable, green… there are many concepts that can confuse you about what sustainable packaging is. Therefore, in this article we want to clarify your doubts and tell you what requirements and what materials a packaging or container must be made of, to be considered ‘sustainable’.

Sustainable packaging are those that have taken into account the principles of eco-design during their production process.

Ecodesign contemplates sustainability criteria from the conception of the product or service to its elimination, trying to reduce the environmental impact during the life cycle of the product.

Therefore, he does not worry (only) about whether ‘the box’ is going to be beautiful or the flashy bag, but also questions the impact of its production, transport and subsequent recycling process.

In summary, for packaging to be considered sustainable packaging it must have one or several of these characteristics:

  • Recyclable
  • Biodegradable
  • Made from recycled materials
  • Reusable

It is, as we said at the beginning of the article, the so-called circular economy. The Circular Economy Foundation defines it as “an economic model that prioritizes the use of resources and the reduction of raw materials and the use of renewable energies”.

In this sense, it should be noted that we are no longer talking only about packaging and types of packaging, but also about other sectors, such as construction, taking advantage of the life cycle of materials and the optimized use of built spaces, water management, with improvement and reuse processes, or mobility, analyzing the costs of a vehicle in relation to its useful life and times of use.

So… is sustainable packaging for all companies?


Is sustainable packaging for all companies?

When we talk about sustainable packaging, surely you can imagine that kraft cardboard coffee cup to take away. Or from a bamboo fork. Or the box of an Ikea light bulb that turns into a lamp. You’re not on the wrong track. These are examples of sustainable packaging. But from Liderpac we want to go a little further. Is packaging sustainable for all companies?

Beyond single-use items (the European Union has proposed to end this type of product by 2029), the trend of sustainable packaging does not only affect the final product. It also affects overpackages for logistics and transport, which do not take into account their design because they are not exposed to the consumer.

Reducing the waste of space in boxes, pallets or even in the containers of large shipments is a measure that can be adopted by all companies, regardless of the sector they are. This is the issue that concerns us and where, companies in the packaging sector, such as Liderpac, we can contribute our grain of sand.

Meal Prep with Packaging Sleeve
Source: Grocery Gems

Currently, packaging, in addition to being necessary for the transport of a product, speaks about the values of a brand, is part of the product experience, connects with a certain audience and provides data both at a legal and attitudinal level. This means that it is no longer just a matter of whether the entrepreneur wants to use sustainable packaging or not, but that the current customer demands and demands it.

If your company does not need cardboard cups, it may receive and send orders of other characteristics, use unsustainable materials or make inadequate management of its resources. This affects large and small companies. Well, somehow, we all need each other.

In general, any company that needs suppliers to carry out its activity may make the decision to stop purchasing your products because your logistics or packaging system is not sustainable.

Consumers, lobbies and regulations push companies to organic production processes, where, of course, sustainable packaging and therefore, sustainable packaging companies, play a fundamental role.

Now that you know that eco is not a fad, but a new business norm, you may be wondering what sustainable packaging materials you can use or what you should look for when purchasing products from other companies.


Sustainable materials for packaging

To talk about sustainable packaging materials is to talk about materials with efficient production models, recyclable and reusable products and, in short, to minimize the footprint that packaging can have on the environment.

Plastic Rings

In this section we are going to tell you about three sustainable materials for packaging:

  • Cardboard: Undoubtedly, one of the most sustainable and economical due to its easy reuse and low environmental impact. Although cardboard has a short life cycle, its recyclability makes it a great option. Corrugated cardboard, for example, is ideal because it can withstand a lot of weight. It is also very resistant to blunt and penetrating forces, keeping any product protected during transportation. In addition, a simple cardboard box is more than 80% biodegradable.


  • Bioplastics or vegetable plastics: they come from vegetables such as soy, corn or potato starch and their development is the product of the need to find a material with characteristics similar to plastic, that comes from renewable sources and that is less polluting. It is a resistant, 100% biodegradable and versatile material and they are already used in sectors such as agriculture, textile industry, medicine and, above all, in the packaging and packaging market…


  • Glass: more directly related to the consumer sector, as it is the best ally in terms of food and cosmetic preservation, it refers. It is considered a sustainable material because its recycling is integral, 100% of the material is used and it is converted back into another container. In this way, the life cycle is infinite. You can’t even differentiate a new glass container from another made with recycled material; its characteristics and guarantees are exactly the same.

Like everything, it can be nuanced. For a material to be recyclable, it does not have to be sustainable. If half a forest has to be cut down to make a recyclable product, it is not sustainable. Plastic, in fact, was invented in 1965 to prevent the massive felling of trees due to the excessive use of paper at that time, because it was a reusable material and was seen as the panacea for sustainability. Later, tetrapack arrived, which appeared as a less polluting solution to plastics. And so on, until we achieve the most sustainable packaging of all: the one that doesn’t exist.

After so much theory, the practical moment of this article comes. Here are some examples of sustainable packaging for different sectors.


Sustainable packaging: Examples

It is not the same to produce a packaging material for wrapping an electrical appliance, a textile garment, as another for direct contact with food. That’s why we’re going to show you different examples of sustainable packaging.


Sustainable packaging in food

The food sector is subject to specific regulatory and regulatory requirements, much stricter than in any other branch of activity, due to the requirement to guarantee consumer safety and health.

Precisely because of this requirement on the sector, the food industry has already taken measures to reduce its environmental impact without compromising its product. If we talk about data, McDonald’s, for example, announced that its packaging will be 100% recyclable by 2025.

non-reusable Shrink Wrap Packaging

Here are some examples of sustainable packaging in food:

  • Beer grommets: The brewing industry mainly uses glass and aluminum in its containers, but with the aim of reducing plastics in its outer packaging, companies such as: Damm, Carlsberg, Corona, Guinness, Heineken and Mahou San Miguel, among others, are already working to replace the plastic rings they use in their packs. We can already see cans joined by cardboard rings from sustainable forests on the market. In this sense, the industry is also working for the pioneering technology of recyclable adhesives for the labeling of its bottles.


  • Biodegradable packaging for catering and single-use: cutlery made of wood from sustainable sources, single-use tuppers that imitate plastic, but are biodegradable and are made with the polymer of cornstarch, PLA, aluminum cans, take-away food in cardboard containers, reusable bottles … The food industry is leading the way in the transition to ecological packaging. Probably, because it is one of the industries that pollutes the most and to which it is demanded the most.
    Another sector that has been researching for years how to make its products more sustainable is beauty and personal care; in the following section, we give you an example of sustainable packaging in cosmetics.

Another sector that has been researching for years how to make its products more sustainable is beauty and personal care; in the following section, we give you an example of sustainable packaging in cosmetics.


Sustainable packaging in cosmetics

Let’s face it. Cosmetics and the environment have not always been friendly words. From the manufacture of beauty products to testing (finally banned) on animals, the cosmetic sector has taken an important turn in its business model.

If natural cosmetics has become an unstoppable source of income, the packaging containing it is not far behind:

Examples of sustainable packaging in cosmetics would be:

The aluminum roll-up tubes for creams and toothpastes, cosmetics packaged in recycled PET plastics or even refillable cosmetic containers.

Brands such as Olay or L’Oreal have already presented refillable packaging pilot projects in the United States and the United Kingdom to reduce the use of plastic in their products. Even Lancôme, the luxury cosmetics brand par excellence, allows you to refill the bottle of one of its perfumes.

Another noteworthy sector in terms of sustainable packaging is the textile and fashion industry.


Sustainable packaging in the textile and fashion industry

Sustainable packaging in the textile industry crosses the border to stop using plastic packaging (which also) when you make a purchase in store. Other elements take part here, such as its packaging machinery, the logistics and transport system of those products.

It is not the same to pack compressed garments and textile products in a box and taking advantage of all the space of their outer packaging, than to pack it in a box without more and send it, wasting space and increasing shipping costs and environmental footprint.

In this specific case, the packaging sector offers solutions, such as product packaging, which reduces the use of plastics and other polluting packaging to optimize space.

Ecodesign principles are also taken into account in the labeling of garments to make them less harmful and packaging for shipments from online purchases in e-commerce stores is taken into account, which could even be considered a sector in itself.

Among ingenious examples of sustainable packaging in the textile industry, we review that of the Swedish giant, HM, which presented a prototype of a cardboard bag that turned into a hanger, giving an example of reusable packaging.


ELITER Packaging Machinery contributes sustainable packaging

And in all this… how can we help your company? At ELITER Packaging Machinery we contribute packaging automation processes of all kinds, packaging auxiliary machinery and including, of course, sustainable packaging.

Single Serve Entrees and Cardboard Sleeve Packaging

The packaging industry is one of the pioneers in automation, and, although we still have challenges and challenges in terms of sustainability, automated packaging machinery can help you in the ecological transition of your business towards a more environmentally friendly sustainable packaging.

As we have seen in this article, no matter what sector your company is dedicated to, as long as it includes packaging processes in its business.

Contact Us

Zixin Yuan
Digital Marketing Coordinator

Zhiwei Bao
General Manager

ÉLITER Packaging Machinery Co., Ltd
No.1088, Jing Ye Rd, Economic Development Zone, Dong Shan District, Ruian Wenzhou Zhejiang, China 325200
+86 (0577) 6668 2128