Meeting Consumer Demand: How Brands Can Lead the Shift to Sustainable Packaging

Consumer demand for brands to switch to sustainable packaging continues to increase. Even with the steady squeeze of inflation in the US, shoppers say they are willing to pay more for goods produced and packaged sustainably. Just last year, 66 percent of US consumers and 80 percent of young US adults (ages 18-34) surveyed for the second annual Business of Sustainability Index said they would pay more for sustainable products versus less sustainable competitors.

The 2023 Two Sides North America Trends Tracker survey found that consumers adapt their purchasing behaviors to reflect shifting environmental preferences. 53% of consumers are actively taking steps to increase their use of paper packaging. 41% of consumers would avoid retailers not actively trying to reduce their use of non-recyclable packaging.

In another recent study, 61% of European consumers say the environmental impact of a product’s packaging affects their decision-making process.

However, most consumers also say they don’t know how to identify sustainable packaging, relying heavily on labels, clear and explicit language, and reputable third-party certifications.

Help your customers spot your eco-friendly choices

Labels and certifications do increase trust, but you can also educate your customers about how to spot and support sustainable packaging choices. B&B’s paper-based packaging, thoughtful engineering, and innovative designs can help you make these sustainable choices for your brand.

  1. Downsized Packaging: Use smaller boxes and right-sized containers to minimize material usage, reducing environmental impact and shipping costs. This strategy aligns with sustainability goals while offering practical benefits.
  2. Eco-Friendly Materials: Brands are shifting towards packaging made from biodegradable or recycled materials such as paper and cardboard. Choosing paper–both recycled and virgin fiber–reduces reliance on non-renewable resources and minimizes waste.
  3. Offsetting Carbon Footprint: Some brands are implementing eco-friendly shipping practices and offsetting their carbon footprint. This involves adopting green shipping methods and supporting initiatives that mitigate environmental impact, further enhancing sustainability efforts.
  4. Sustainable Display Materials: Use eco-friendly materials for in-store displays, such as recycled cardboard.
  5. Creative Eco-Friendly Packaging Designs: Brands are exploring creative eco-friendly packaging designs that benefit the environment and enhance brand image. These designs prioritize sustainability without compromising on aesthetics or functionality.
  6. Educational Packaging: Brands are incorporating information on the packaging about recycling methods and statistics around a package’s environmental impact to raise consumer awareness and encourage responsible disposal.
  7. Reusable Packaging: Implementing reusable packaging options not only adds circularity but also creates a branded memento for your customer to keep. 
  8. Collaborations with Environmental Organizations: Partnering with environmental organizations to ensure sustainable packaging practices and raise awareness can give your brand the credibility it deserves.

Paper packaging offers a circular solution for consumers

Paper packaging is preferred by consumers for many environmental and practical attributes, including that they are:

  • Home compostable, 76%
  • Better for the environment, 55%
  • Lighter weight, 53%
  • More straightforward to recycle, 49%
  • More accessible to open, 41%
  • Easier to store, 36%

And while virgin fiber is an essential and sustainable piece of the paper puzzle, brands are using more recycled paper and fiber in their packaging materials when possible.

Primary Packaging

Brands are incorporating recycled paper and fiber into the primary packaging of their products. This includes using recycled cardboard boxes, paper bags, and fiber-based containers. By utilizing recycled materials for primary packaging, brands reduce the demand for virgin materials and contribute to waste reduction.

Secondary Packaging

Brands are also utilizing recycled paper and fiber for secondary packaging, such as labels, inserts, and wraps. These components add to the overall sustainability of the packaging by reducing the reliance on new paper products and diverting waste from landfills.

Product Inserts and Fillers

Brands are replacing traditional plastic-based inserts and fillers with recycled paper-based alternatives. Material options include shredded recycled paper or fiber-based packing to cushion products during shipping and display. By doing so, brands minimize the environmental impact of their packaging materials while maintaining product protection.

Marketing Materials

Some brands print marketing materials, such as pamphlets, brochures, and product catalogs, on paper that is 100% recycled or contains a mix of virgin and recycled content. This demonstrates a commitment to sustainability throughout the entire packaging and marketing process. By choosing recycled paper for marketing materials, brands promote eco-friendly practices and reduce their ecological footprint.

Collaboration with Suppliers

Brands collaborate with suppliers and vendors (including printers like us!) to source recycled paper and fiber materials for their packaging needs. These partnerships ensure a consistent supply of sustainable materials and are mutually supportive. By working closely with suppliers and vendors, brands can innovate and optimize the use of recycled paper and fiber in their packaging materials.

Consumer demand for sustainable packaging is at an all-time high, and brands can step up to educate consumers and make sustainable choices easier. Paper packaging has emerged as a circular solution, and companies incorporating recycled paper and fiber into primary and secondary packaging, product inserts, and marketing materials demonstrate a commitment to sustainability. By working closely with suppliers and embracing innovative designs, companies can lead the charge toward a more sustainable future while meeting consumer expectations.