Why Circularity Is Key for Sustainability Practices
As more brands shift to e-commerce, here’s why companies must embrace circularity in the supply chain to meet consumer expectations.
According to McKinsey, the pandemic accelerated the shift to e-commerce by as much as ten years, completely altering consumer and industry trends in a matter of months. While a lot of businesses benefited from reaching new and larger audiences online, supply chains were left to figure out how to adapt based on increased consumer demand for packaging.
Meanwhile, consumers have been increasingly paying closer attention to the sustainability practices of companies and brands. More than half of U.S. consumers are highly concerned about the environmental impact of packaging. Companies, then, are challenged to find cost-effective and sustainable packaging at speed and scale. But embracing sustainability in the supply chain isn’t as simple as switching out your current packaging for a perceived “eco-friendly” alternative.
Before anything else, companies must define what sustainable means. Consider paper packaging — it’s commonly accepted as an environmentally friendlier option, but it requires access to forests. In this case, companies would be forced to weigh the benefits of paper packaging with limited supplies and the environmental costs of acquiring it.
Also consider consumer behavior — that is, how consumers actually recycle. For example, in a retail shopping center, businesses could leverage partnerships with suppliers and recyclers to establish a designated location for waste disposal. Under the e-commerce business model, most consumers opt for conveniently disposing of packaging in whatever waste bin is available.
Embracing Circularity For Sustainable Packaging Practices
The circular economy is an alternative to the linear model of make, use, and dispose. At Pregis, we believe that circularity is key to building sustainability into every part of the supply chain. This means creating the highest quality reusable and recyclable package while optimizing raw material usage with the incorporation of recycled content, and understanding collection opportunities at end of use.
Of course, building circularity into supply chains doesn’t happen overnight. We recommend that companies start by thinking about how they can accomplish the following:
Eliminate unnecessary packaging.
In a circular economy, more must be done with less. Can you use paper mailers instead of boxes? What about lightweight, high-performing plastics incorporating recycled content?
Be transparent with consumers.
Today’s shoppers scrutinize brands for sustainability — especially when their practices are murky or ill-defined. Tell your story and take control of the narrative: What kind of packaging are you using and why? Who are you partnered with in your commitment to sustainable business practices?
With every Pregis solution, we evaluate the environmental impact and recommend and design solutions to reduce your carbon footprint. Renew™, EasyPack®, and ThermaCycle™ Flex are some of our most effective solutions:
An effective option for replacing unnecessary boxes, this is the only all-paper mailer on the market that is lightweight, protective, and eligible for easy curbside recycling.
Using paper is one of the best ways to reduce your carbon footprint. Our Easypack paper is FSC-certified 100% recyclable and biodegradable, lightweight, and robust.
Created from post-consumer recycled content, Airspeed Renew bags are 100% recyclable at store drop-off locations. Materials created from post-consumer waste means the material has completed its lifecycle as a consumer item and would otherwise be disposed of.
Our advocacy and education efforts also help customers understand circularity and its components, so that they recognize packaging by Pregis as eco-friendly. In fact, it’s part of our 2K30 goals to inform and empower both brands and consumers on the collective action we can take toward sustainability.
The Future of Circularity Requires Collaboration
The future of sustainability will not be solved by one company. Embracing circularity is an opportunity to build relationships with customers, suppliers, and stakeholders toward new solutions.
Though we expect increasing alignment around sustainability standards, circularity will not look like a one-size-fits-all solution. Solving the challenges of today’s recycling system means establishing a clear end game and mapping out — together — how to reach it.
Interested in learning more about sustainable packaging?