Sustainable Packaging (Part Two)

July 29, 2019 3 minutes
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When talking about sustainability and packaging the immediate association is with corrugated board.

In our previous blog I spoke about the need for packaging to protect the contents, promote the brand and at the same time provide a positive unboxing experience. Corrugated packaging not only ticks all these boxes (pun intended!) but is also a key component in sustainability, reducing carbon footprint and supporting the circular economy.

PROTECTION
For protection, nothing beats corrugated cardboard.

According to a white paper produced by WestRock, Packaging is key to building trust in a product. Consumers value packaging as a driver in building trust…79% see “Protects from tampering or contamination” as a key element in this.

There are many types of corrugated available, each with different flute sizes and thicknesses. Corrugated is durable, versatile, innovative and lightweight and can be used for custom-manufactured shipping containers, packaging and point-of-purchase displays, in addition to numerous non-traditional applications ranging from pallets to children’s toys to furniture.

But back to basics. For packaging, cardboard is strong and resists punctures, and yet, at the same time it is also easy to cut with a knife when it comes to opening. Also, when a box gets crushed it tends to stay together rather than shattering like wood would.

PROMOTING THE BRAND

According to FEFCO – the European Federation of Corrugated Board Manufacturers, corrugated packaging meets the key attributes defined by the entire supply chain – retailers, manufacturers and packaging suppliers – the “five easies

  • easy to identify in the back of the store
  • easy to open
  • be easy to get on shelf: replenishment
  • easily accessed by the shoppers
  • easy to flatten and recycle
 

You can read more about how SRP Shelf-Ready Packaging impacts not only shelf visibility but also increases efficiency in both the supply chain and in-store.

UNBOXING EXPERIENCE

A quick Google search for unboxing experience produces 55,600,000 results! And the top 10 r 20 YouTube videos about bad unboxing experiences run to the tens of millions! In recent years, unboxing has gone from being a seasonal pleasure, to an online fad, to a powerful ecommerce marketing tool. It helps brands tell their story, drives loyalty, provokes social media discussion, and excites influencers – ultimately affecting sales. And what is the first requirement for a positive unboxing experience? A branded box. Read more here.

The entrance of digital printing into the corrugated segment combined with the meteoric rise of e-commerce, has opened up a world of opportunities for branded, corrugated packaging.
At the shelf level, the ability to integrate the design of Shelf Retail Packaging (SRP) and Retail Ready Packaging (RRP) into the promotional mix, to generate sales, in store, at the point of purchase is another key element of brand positioning.

SUSTAINABILITY

Sustainability can be interpreted in several ways:

  • Collection, reuse and recycle
  • Reducing carbon footprint – transportation for example
  • Simplifying supply chain

Corrugated and sustainability go hand in hand; it is completely recyclable and biodegradable, it is about half air, making it very light for its size and yet, compared to a sheet of paper, cardboard is incredibly rigid. Corrugated boxes fold flat for shipping without losing strength, making transportation much easier and less expensive. It is also very easy to put the boxes together when they are needed.

In short, corrugated boxes work!

The Amazon Frustration Free Packaging and Ships-in-Own-Container initiatives show their clear commitment to overcoming the public shaming they have received for shipping air, small products in huge boxes and double packing items.

Large brands – like Nestlé, Mondelēz, Apple, to name just a few, and retailers are spearheading the sustainability initiative to help their public image and many, if not most, have set 2025 as the deadline for strict implementation. Smaller and medium brands will be forced to implement sustainability in their packaging too in order to keep up.

Highcon has been offering digital solutions to the corrugated market since the introduction in February 2018 of the Highcon Euclid IIIC digital cutting and creasing machine. Digital finishing for corrugated enables rapid time to market, efficient short runs that allow Just In Time Production rather than Just in Time Delivery, reduced shipping costs and waste. Like digital printing, digital finishing is a contactless process that retains the integrity of the corrugated board and makes available performance enhancements like easy to open zipper tears or perforations. Customization of the structure also means less shipping of air or fillers and reduced carbon footprint.

More about customization in a future blog post.

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