Tackling sustainable packaging is undoubtedly a complex process, with several hurdles that make the journey both difficult and hard to execute.

In this blog we share five factors stopping the shift to sustainable packaging.

One – Supply chains are complex

Packaging materials are often a combination of other materials, often known as “raw materials” or ingredients. Whilst the finished product often reflects a brand, the creation of that product is a collaboration of many stakeholders and supply chains. Coordinating these supply chains to ensure sustainable sourcing, production, and distribution of packaging materials can be a daunting task.

Simply changing from one product to another seems simple, but often requires a lot of “behind the scenes to coordinate”. The time, effort and costs to make some of these changes often lead many brands and organizations to stop their journey to sustainable packaging.

We often refer to sustainable packaging as having a “tip of the ice-berg” effect as per below.

Iceberg Analogy

Two – Consumer’s walking the walk

Changing consumer behaviour is critical for the success of sustainable packaging initiatives. However, there are many challenges involved. Some are convincing consumers to adopt new habits, choosing reusable alternatives, or not purchasing at all.

Many consumer’s intentions are for brands to become more sustainable. They expect their products to be packaged in more sustainable materials. The question is, how many of us choose brands that have made that change?

RPET group

Three – Costs are typically higher for sustainable packaging

This is probably one of the more obvious barriers when it comes to sustainable packaging. Many businesses operate on tight profit margins. This means investing in sustainable packaging materials and redesigning packaging formats can be financially daunting. Balancing environmental considerations with cost-effective sustainable solutions requires innovative approaches and long-term thinking.

Unfortunately, strategies are typically bound in short-term thinking such as quarterly or yearly. Often the investment and cost to change require a long term view.

Want to start your sustainable packaging journey?

At Hi-Tech Packaging, we can help guide you on your sustainable journey. Not sure what material to use? We can help. Unsure on costs? We can help with that too. Get in touch with us today!

Four – The systems may not be ready for change

While advancements in technology have enabled the development of more sustainable packaging materials and recycling processes, there are still limitations to overcome. These limitations come in the form of the “waste systems”.

For example, not all types of packaging materials are easily recyclable or compostable, and existing recycling infrastructure may not be equipped to handle certain materials effectively.

This hurdle can often distract brands from making the start to sustainable packaging and have a “what’s the point” approach if it can’t be disposed of properly or have the right waste system to go through.

Waste Hierarchy for Sustainable Packaging

Five– The fear of getting it wrong

This point seems a bit of a “wishy-washy” excuse, but the reality is many brands have this challenge.

Saying the wrong thing and producing the wrong thing can absolutely derail a brand’s reputation, and whilst this is more than valid, it shouldn’t be the excuse to not start.

Everyone makes mistakes, its how you right them that makes the difference.

Mars and Snickers Bar stickers added

To conclude…

Despite highlighting these challenges above, good progress continues to be made in the world of sustainable packaging.

And whilst these challenges are all real (and we see them regularly) the solution to them is to acknowledge they exist in the first place.

How we overcome them requires a bit more work, but typically the best approach is often through collaboration, rethinking, and design efforts that come from being “purpose-driven” by the change you want to see or make.

Shifting the needle requires everyone to do their part; brand owners, suppliers, distributors, consumers, marketers, government, waste infrastructure, and educators.

Sustainable packaging has many challenges (ones we see first-hand everyday!) but it also has many opportunities and that is what continues to excite us in this area and something we’ll continue to be part of!

Till next time,

Team Hi-Tech Packaging