Packaging innovations help companies cut their carbon footprint

Consumers are becoming increasingly environmentally aware and as a result, they are demanding change within the apparel industry, especially in the way items are packaged.

According to Weavabel, packaging takes up almost a third of all plastic production, but only 14% of it will be recycled. If a firm can minimise its packaging, it can achieve a lot. Currently, digitisation and better data management in the fashion industry and in the supply chain are helping.

Zero packaging would be ideal, but you can’t rely on getting a garment through the supply chain without a bag or a box. PE Polybags have been the go-to solution for shipping garments from factories through supply chains due to cost and convenience. The need for sustainable packaging is opening doors for new ideas and materials. As a result, alternative packaging innovations are beginning to filter through. These include polybags made of recycled or reused plastic, and biodegradable plastic. We are launching the paper garment bag that uses renewable resources and is kerbside recyclable. Our 2030 paper goals include a focus on deforestation, and this is considered when replacing plastic with paper with the use of FSC=certified material – the best certification currently available.

Biodegradable packaging materials may sound ideal, but for it to reduce a firm’s carbon footprint, it needs to end up in the right condition for it to be composted. It requires special collection and needs to be industrially combusted, as it may still contain microplastics that cannot end up in the food chain. Due to the lack of infrastructure and technology, most ends up in landfill and can contaminate other materials that are intended to be recycled.

Pure PE (polyethylene) has recyclable value, however new sustainable materials are constantly being pursued. The current challenge is that we need sustainable packaging that can be used globally, which we haven’t achieved yet. Cost is an issue as greener raw materials tend to be more expensive. Companies face problems of costs versus sustainability with their packaging choices, and most opt for saving money. However, circular plastic taxes are coming which will hopefully encourage more firms to choose sustainable packaging.

Avery Dennison has produced its eco-friendly Re-Think Packaging range, which includes a 100% recycled PE bag made from sustainable materials. This GRS-certified product is designed to eliminate single-use plastics, introduce reusable and recyclable materials, and limit the amount of packaging materials being used across the supply chain, therefore reducing Avery Dennison’s carbon footprint. The number of garments that are being shipped from factories in plastic polybags is growing every year, therefore Avery Dennison has created a cost-neutral solution that diverts pre-consumer plastic waste from ending up in landfills or contaminating the oceans.

The Re-Think polybags can enable brands to improve their carbon reduction and sustainability goals, and divert from single-use plastics without losing functionality. It is evident that more sustainable solutions are needed to reduce the carbon footprint of the fashion industry and its supply chains. However, thanks to innovations, we are getting closer and companies are now fully committing to carbon-cutting goals; one clear way of doing that is by reducing their packaging.

Written by Dominy Jones