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How brands and businesses can lower emissions through packaging

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The UN report on the science of climate change emphasises the need of lowering carbon emissions. And if you’re a responsible business, this should be on your agenda too – but where can you start? Strategic packaging can help by drastically cutting CO2 consumption.

Tackling carbon emissions

Reducing carbon emissions requires cooperation between citizens, businesses, and governments. In Europe, this effort has been taken seriously. For example, Finland became the first country in the world to implement a carbon tax in 1990, with many nations following suit.

Since then, greenhouse gas emissions dropped by 24 percent throughout Europe, which exceeded the 20 percent goal that was initially set. Continuing this trend, leaders, and policymakers plan to hit a 55 percent reduction by the year 2030, with full climate neutrality by 2050. In the UK, there are multiple government initiatives to kick start a greener economy, including the incoming UK Plastic Packaging Tax and significant investment in renewable energy sources like low-carbon hydrogen.

However, the recent IPCC report – a UN report on the science of climate change  – emphasises that climate change is widespread, rapid, and intensifying. With additional measures expected in the next decade, businesses should be taking steps now reduce emissions – and that starts with packaging.

How packaging can reduce emissions

Small changes to packaging and fulfilment strategies can create major reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, equating to lower carbon taxes for companies and less impact on the environment.

Protecting your products protects the environment

Consider damages. Replacing and reshipping packages broken in transit results in a huge impact on a company’s carbon footprint. In fact, each damaged product adds an average 18.3 kg of carbon dioxide gas emissions into the atmosphere. Optimised packaging can mean the difference between products arriving safely or needing to be returned. The right protective packaging solution can reduce damages, lower emissions, protect your product and your reputation, all whilst minimising waste and helping control costs.

High-performing in-box protection like paper, air and foam solutions that cushion impact and minimise product movement are critical. Using automated solutions, like on-demand inflatable air systems, such as the Pregis Mini PAK’R  Industrial, allow packers to use just the right amount of material for every pack, resulting in less environmental waste once an item is unboxed.

Choosing environmentally sensitive materials will reduce emissions

The appropriate disposal of packaging waste also plays a part in reducing emissions. So, using materials that are recyclable and made from recycled content are all crucial to reducing land and air pollution. All paper packaging products are recyclable and will be available with recycled content.

If air cushions are your in-box-packaging of choice, solutions like AirSpeed® Renew air cushions (that work with the above-mentioned Pregis Mini PAK’R system) are created using 50% post-consumer recycled content. This requires less petroleum to be used in manufacturing and the bags are still recyclable.

Air cushions made with renewable biomass (like leaves or husks) are another option that can help reduce emissions. AirSpeed® Renew S is an example of this and is one of the first CO2 neutral air packaging solutions available.

Strategic packing has a positive knock-on effect on transport

The right packaging materials teamed with strategic packing can also significantly reduce the overall pack size and weight. This has a positive knock-on effect! When parcels are shipped in fewer trips, the amount of carbon generated by vehicles used for  transport is reduced too. So, using wieght-reducing in-box protection like AirSpeed®, which is 99% air, is a smart choice.  If appropriate for your product,  boxes and void-fill can be eschewed entirely for bagging solutions, like Sharp Polybags, to reduce the dimensional pack weight even more.

Support reducing your emissions through packaging

Network Packaging and Macfarlane Group can help you make informed choices about your packaging that can reduce your emissions. Email for more information about products mentioned in this article or sustainable packaging advice.