There’s a big push lately to make things more eco-friendly. From how we generate power to how we make consumer goods, finding ways to cause less harm to our planet is always a good thing. So, it makes sense that this push would reach the packaging world, too.
After all, packaging is a necessity for pretty much anything that needs to be shipped—which means that it consumes significant resources of all types. If we can find ways to reduce harmful practices and wasteful choices, while still maintaining the strength and protection that packaging provides, it’s something worth pursuing.
If you’re looking to use more eco-friendly packaging in your customer orders and product shipments, here’s five great options to get you started.
Poly mailers—in both their bubble-lined and unlined options—are used by plenty of businesses. They’re strong, resilient and proven to protect items during shipping. But they’re also made of polyethylene (a form of plastic), which makes them something plenty of other businesses want to stay away from.
Going down a more eco-conscious route, eco-friendly mailers are a great paper-based alternative. Using material that’s either recycled or sourced from responsibly managed forests, they’re growing quickly in popularity with socially conscious and earth-friendly businesses.
They’re also among the most accommodating of mailer styles, offering several options for easier packing and shipping. Reinforced versions are lined with fiberglass for extra strength, gusseted versions open wider to handle larger products, and some versions offer both features together. What’s more, they have convenient peel and seal closures, and can be recycled once no longer needed.
And as if eco-friendly mailers didn’t already have enough going for them—they can also be printed on. If you’re interested, be sure to get in touch with us for more details on your branding options.
Bubble mailers are certainly a great way to ship smaller items. Their lower height and inside bubble lining make them cheaper to pack and ship than corrugated boxes. But while that bubble lining is generally recyclable, it may not be ideal for brands that are trying to use as little plastic as possible.
That’s what makes padded mailers such a great eco-friendly packaging alternative. Instead of a bubble lining, they use fiber padding inside their walls. As the mailer is handled, the fiber expands and absorbs damage during shipping. They also feature a convenient peel and seal closure for you (no tape needed!), and an easy tear strip for your customers. And they can go right into the recycling bin after use.
As great as earth-friendly mailers are, they can’t be used to ship everything. Luckily, there’s another eco-conscious alternative for larger products, and it just happens to be the biggest packaging mainstay of them all: corrugated boxes.
Shipping boxes are made from corrugated board, which is simply fluted paper sandwiched between two layers of flat paper. This design gives boxes their structure and strength and is why they’re so widely used. The fact that they’re just a mix of paper and glue is what automatically makes them eco-friendly and recyclable. Simply remove any tape that’s not paper-based, flatten the box, and it can go right into the recycling bin.
There are a few times where a box can’t be recycled—but thankfully they’re few. While printed boxes are generally recyclable, any varnish or lamination on top must be removed first. And if a box has soaked up oil and grease from cars or machinery, it’s not salvageable (though there are companies in the middle of developing processes to rescue any contaminated box).
On the other hand, if that oil and grease is from pizza, the corrugated board can be torn up and thrown into your compost bin (seriously!). That’s a nice, unexpected alternative for dealing with soiled corrugate, isn’t it?
You’ll find the full assortment of corrugated box styles in the Boxes category.
Custom Packing Tape
There’s a seemingly endless amount of tape styles out there, and plenty of them aren’t made from paper. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, of course, as they all serve different purposes. Cold temperature tape (which uses an acrylic-based liner) is a necessity for shipping things in very cold climates, and duct tape (which uses fabric and polyethylene for its liner) seems to have a million different uses.
But when it comes to eco-friendly packaging options, the custom printed water activated tape in our Custom Shop is a powerful three punch combo.
First, it’s paper-based, using two layers with fiberglass reinforcement between them. It’s also coated on one side with a water-based adhesive that doesn’t use harsh, earth-harming chemicals. It’s completely recyclable, right from the start.
Second, its fiberglass reinforcement provides it with incredible strength for shipping heavier products. And its water-activated adhesive bonds the tape to a box once it dries—meaning it’s a tamper-evident packaging material that’ll show if someone else tries to open the box.
And third, it’s the perfect canvas for having a little fun and showing off your brand. Whether you simply tile your logo across it, flood it with color, or add clever messaging, custom tape makes it clear a shipment comes from you and no one else. And that’s a huge boon to your business and its reputation.
Custom water activated tape is both recyclable and biodegradable. And it requires no special handling once you’re done with it, either—simply leave it on the box when you toss it into your recycling bin.
Custom Tissue Paper
Eco-friendly packaging is all about caring for the planet by making more informed decisions. But using it doesn’t mean you’re forced to abandon interesting decisions like custom branded packaging. One of the most effective options out there is custom tissue paper.
Picture the unboxing experience you want your customers to have. They open their shipment with glee, simply expecting to see their chosen items waiting for them. Instead, they’re greeted by sheets of soft paper—patterned with your logo—cradling their purchases. It surprises them, slows them down, and makes them feel like it’s Christmas morning. They have presents to unwrap.
All it takes is your logo and the online custom tissue paper maker to create eco-friendly packaging that’s hard to forget. Click upload, choose a pattern, add a color (or two), and you’re ready to order a stack of gorgeously branded tissue sheets. Your customers will love it.
Printed with soy-based inks on acid-free paper (that’s sourced from responsibly managed forests), your custom tissue paper is all at once sustainable, recyclable and biodegradable. It’s not only a great choice for branded packaging, it’s a stellar choice for eco-friendly packaging.
One of the great things about packaging is that you have choices. You’re never limited to one style of corrugated boxes or forced to use plastic in your shipping mailers. And thanks to the commitments and innovations of packaging designers and manufacturers around the world, eco-friendly packaging is more accessible than ever. If you’re looking to try it out, we think this list is a great place to start.