As they look to save on their business electricity bills and boost their green credentials, more and more companies are turning to their packaging for ways to save energy and build a “greener” image. Are there lessons you and your business could learn from the example of others?

Small, lightweight and durable

When it comes to packaging; many firms are changing their designs to use less material and energy to produce it. This is making it cheaper and greener to create and transport.

According to the British Plastics Federation (BPF) between 1991 and 2000 the average weight of plastic film wrap decreased by 36% and the average weight or bottles and containers decreased by 21%. The Coca-Cola Company said it saved an estimated $180 million in two years by cutting the weight of their plastic bottles by more than a quarter, taking 30% off the weight of aluminium can and lightening their glass bottles by over 50%.

As well as using less, more businesses are turning to using recycled glass and aluminium in bottles and cans to save business energy and money as turning recycled aluminium into cans needs 95% less energy compared to new aluminium, while the energy needed to melt glass is reduced by 3% for every 10% of recycled glass used.

Bottles made from plants

Innovations in bio-plastics are changing packaging. Traditionally plastic is made from petroleum, with its associated problems of volatile oil prices and carbon emissions, bio-plastic is made from plant-sourced materials which are cheaper, sustainable and contribute to reductions in CO2 emissions. As it is made from bio-products it is 100% recyclable. One breakthrough in this area has been PepsiCo’s recent creation of the world’s first plastic bottle made entirely from renewable and plant-sourced material like corn husks, switch grass and pine-barks.

From chocolate to compost

Another advance in packaging is the increasing use of biodegradable bio-plastics which can be composted. While normal plastic can take 400 years to break down some biodegradable packaging, which in Europe is marked with a seedling logo, can become compost in less than 12 weeks.

It’s being used in various ways in the food and catering industries. For example, Innovia Films’ NatureFlex, a plastic film wrap made from wood pulp which is compostable, is used all over the world most notably Nestlé’s Quality Street chocolate wrappers. While firms like Biopac UK are providing biodegradable items to caterers which can be composted alongside leftover food, including compostable hot cups and cutlery made from renewable cornstarch.

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