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August 21, 2023

A look inside reusable packaging across the globe--the good, the bad, the ugly

Packaging has become an integral part of our daily lives. However, this convenience comes at a staggering cost

Right at this exact moment, how many packages do you have on your doorstep? Almost all of us will say at least one–or they had been one earlier today and/or are coming later this evening. From the products we purchase online to the goods we find on supermarket shelves, packaging serves as a bridge between manufacturers and consumers, including the packaging needed to transport goods from manufacturing to being sold.

Plastic and cardboard packaging have led to a global waste crisis, prompting a dire need for change. And what’s worse is that most consumers now think that because it is deemed “recyclable” and has a little recycle triangle somewhere on the bottom, we are doing no harm to the environment. That’s just not the case…

The packaging problem at hand

It's no secret that plastic and cardboard packaging have wreaked havoc on the environment. These materials' production, transportation, and disposal contribute significantly to pollution, deforestation, and climate change.

The numbers speak for themselves…

  • According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), over 35.4 million tons of plastic waste were generated in the United States in 2018 alone, with only a meager 8.5% recycled. And global plastic waste is set to almost triple by 2060 if we don’t do anything about it!
  • The Ellen MacArthur Foundation predicts that if our current consumption patterns persist, by 2050, there could be more plastic than fish in the oceans by weight.
  • Deforestation, often driven by the demand for cardboard packaging, results in the loss of crucial habitats and biodiversity. Rainforest Foundation Norway states that the cardboard industry is among the top drivers of tropical deforestation.

Most packaging materials are made from plastic or cardboard–whether recycled or not, it still requires virgin materials to get the packaging in the first place. With the numbers above, it’s clear we have a packaging problem…

The rise of reusable packaging

Amidst this environmental crisis, reusable packaging has emerged as a solution or a beacon of hope for the future. Reusable packaging may sound obvious, but it’s innovative and seeks to drastically reduce the waste generated by single-use packaging materials. With its roots firmly grounded in the principles of the circular economy, reusable packaging focuses on minimizing waste through design, durability, and long-term usability.

Reusable packaging offers a multitude of benefits:

  • Cost Efficiency: While the initial investment in reusable packaging might be higher, its durability and reusability lead to long-term cost savings. LimeLoop’s research and programs show that businesses could save 35% or more on supply chain costs, including packaging and inventory loss or damage.
  • Reduced Environmental Footprint: Reusable packaging significantly decreases the demand for raw materials, energy, and water, thus lowering the carbon footprint of the supply chain. A study by McKinsey & Company revealed that the carbon emissions associated with reusable packaging can be up to 95% lower than single-use alternatives.
  • Enhanced Brand Image: Companies that prioritize sustainable practices stand out in the eyes of environmentally-conscious consumers. A survey by Nielsen found that 73% of global consumers would change their consumption habits to reduce their environmental impact.

The need for sustainable packaging is more pressing than ever.

The road ahead

Our planet is at a crucial crossroads, and our choices today will determine the world we leave for future generations.

Reusable packaging represents a tangible and impactful step towards reversing the detrimental effects of plastic and cardboard waste. By embracing this solution, both e-commerce and B2B supply chains can contribute to a more sustainable and resilient future.

The time to act is now; let's choose reusable packaging and pave the way for a cleaner, greener world.

To learn more about LimeLoop’s smart, reusable packaging and/or to figure out what your cost savings could be by switching to reusable packaging, click here.

Rebecca Smith
Rebecca Smith
Director of Growth Marketing
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