There are two parts to this article, the 1st part talks about how minimal and effective packaging should be the norm and the 2nd part talks about the challenges faced by brands in shipping these packages.
Most of us have heard of eco packaging, sustainable packaging, and plastic free packaging and so on.
Why are all brands rushing towards being plastic free? How much packaging is actually enough?
Mind you, nowadays even the plastic courier bags are marked recyclable and reusable.
There are many brands that have adopted eco packaging, but the reality is that huge quantities of Kraft paper or other eco-friendly materials are used. Now there can be a number of reasons why brands are doing this.
- The product needs to be well wrapped with two or three layers of material to prevent it from damage or to substitute the waterproof plastic packaging
- To enhance the experience of unboxing the product for the customer
- To make sure there is no damage during shipping and the package reaches the customer in the same condition it was packed.
Now the million dollar question is, how much packaging is too much packaging.
Even though eco-friendly material are used to package the product, using the material in abundance defeats the whole purpose of being a sustainable product. Brands should find that little sweet spot in packaging where minimal material are used, packaging is effective and tamper proof and at the same time, the customer has a good unboxing experience.
There is an increased use of cotton tote bags. Every brand, retailer, restaurant package their products and give it away in tote bags. We can safely say that plastic bags have left the households but tote bags fill one big shelf in everyone's home. These tote bags are now becoming a problem.
How are these bags going to be disposed? Tote bags with prints and colors are tough to recycle. Considering this, how is this any different from using plastic?
In a couple of years time disposing tote bags is going to become the new challenge for sustainability.
This process will make sure we are using the right amount of packaging required for our product.
To make the unboxing experience better, brands add tags, customized letters, instructions, brochures and so on. Though this is a very integral part of the brand building process, brands should slowly start to refrain from adding unnecessary items in packaging.
For a moment let’s say you received a package with all the above mentioned items, though the look and feel is great your immediate thought is “What a waste of paper”. This practice might help brands reduce returns in a way but if the brand is claiming to be sustainable, being minimal is part of being sustainable.
Now, let’s talk about the challenges faced by brands while shipping their products.
Cuttlefish sells organic athleisure bottom wear and has a very minimal packaging design. One of the biggest challenges faced by us during our initial stages was that our packaging material though eco-friendly were not built for the rough handling the package goes through before reaching the customer. Sometimes even though the product was intact, the package looked like it had been through a storm before reaching the customer. This led to our quest in finding more durable, efficient eco-friendly material for packaging.
Now we use a simple 3 layer packaging with all biodegradable materials.
Layer 1 - Corn starch bag to cover the garment.
Layer 2 - 3 Ply bio degradable box
Layer 3 - Wrapped with Kraft paper made of recycled paper
We do not add any other unnecessary layer or cushioning for our packaging. The tapes we use are also water based paper tapes. This type of packing helps our boxes any sort of handling during shipping at the same time remains eco friendly.
Just imagine the number of hands that handle the package before it reaches the customer. The current supply chain has so many touch points that our packages spend 50% of their shipping time in being handled by a person or a machine.
The organic, sustainable and eco-friendly packaging market is still in its nascent stages and is slowly growing with better options towards minimalistic and efficient packaging. It is just a matter of time where customers will slowly start to understand the reason behind minimalistic packaging and will not judge a brand or a product on the way they have been packaged.
Being minimal is a very important part in being sustainable!!