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Greenwashed, Sustainable Packaging OR a marketing gimmick

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Green Packaging can just be a shallow term for some companies to jump on the green bandwagon and try to make some extra cash using eco-slogans. Green marketing and advertising are ever popular strategies to further business interests by showing increased concerns for sustainability issues. Call me a cynic or a greenie, but one must understand that sustainability is a serious challenge and we have the power to influence the situation.

For ethical and responsible companies, Green packaging aim is not just to reduce the amount of packaging, but it also involves taking the package design, processing, disposal conditions and the entire product lifecycle into consideration. Businesses invest in green packaging, because consumer research has shown that consumers value sustainable packaging, provided that the other aspects of packaging and functionality are met.

Some of characteristics of the sustainable packaging are…

• Minimizing the amount of packaging used (weight and volume).

• Minimizing the energy used for production and transportation of goods.

• Using packaging that can be reused again, such as bottles and refillable ink cartridges.

• Green packaging is the use of manufacturing methods and materials for packaging of goods that has low impact on the environment and energy consumption. In other words, sustainable packaging uses environmentally-sensitive methods, including energy efficiency, recyclable and biodegradable materials, down-gauging, reusability and much more.

• The importance of green packaging to humans and our environment is immense. A great deal of energy is used in the production of traditional packaging such as plastics, corrugated boxes, plastic bags, and other packaging. Most often, the source of that energy is fossil fuels that add millions of metric tons of carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere per year while discarded conventional packaging ends up in landfills or oceans causing soil, water, and plant contamination.

• By using sustainable packaging, manufacturers and consumers can eliminate these contaminants that destroy the atmosphere, soil and water of our planet. This can be done by lowering the packaging content, creation of recyclable or biodegradable packaging, and use of alternative energy means such as wind, solar and biofuels in the production and transport of the packaging. Plastics made from polyethylene are among the most widely used packaging today and among the greatest threat to our environment. Increasingly, manufacturers are utilizing recycled, recyclable and minimalist packaging wherever appropriate. Biodegradable plastics are also in use with mixes of plant-based plastics that replace some or most of the non-renewable petroleum or fossil-based resources used in conventional PET plastic (A type of plastic resin widely used in plastic bottles).

• Packaging materials should not contain toxic substances or toxic substances content should be controlled.

• The packaging of products throughout their life cycle, should not be polluting the environment or cause pollution

From a technical perspective, green packaging refers to the natural plants and minerals as raw materials.
As far as green marketers are concerned, many times, Green Packaging and Environmental friendly and sustainable packaging, terms are less about sustainability and the environment, and more about evoking an aspirational lifestyle. There is no doubt that marketing aims to sell the product, or even the brand – by selling the desirable ideas, emotions and experiences behind it. Green marketing goes further in the sense that it pitches an ethos, the belief that consumers are improving the world, and themselves, via their purchasing decisions.

It will be extremely good if there is marked element of truth behind most of these green marketing campaigns.

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