Packaging Resolutions for 2021

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The new year always brings with it new goals and the popular “R” word – resolutions. Both great ways for us to make things better all around.  Perhaps 2021 is the year that you make some resolutions about your retail and brand packaging.

The Shopping Bag

When retail packaging is mentioned, the most common type that comes to mind is the shopping bag. This item has seen many versions of itself. Made out all different types of materials, trends that come and go quickly, and trying to stay up to date with new laws or regulations from city to city can make anyone anxious. With plastic, paper and reusable bags always being a hot topic, it’s important to see how you can make a change to your branded retail bags for the better in 2021.

Being in the business of packaging and materials, we wanted to list a few ways for anyone to follow and make their paper bags greener.

Remove laminations; The glossy, metallic and even matte finishes over a paper bag are all laminates and may never decompose when they are thrown away. Next time skip the finishes and ask about other ways to make your brand stand out and still be eco-friendly.

Use FSC Certified paper; Ever see this logo on the bottom of a brown bag that you’ve recently used? Well, here’s what that means. FSC Certified paper is paper that has harvested responsibly and is helping promote safe management of the world’s forests. In turn, it lets you place the certified logo on your item and since so many are trying to be more earth conscience, this is something that could help make the decision between your brand, or the other that doesn’t practice this same green effort.

Use soy-based ink; Traditional inks are petroleum-based which are, as one would suspect, very harmful for the environment. Petroleum is not only high in price, but these inks are high in toxic metals and many other harsh substances. There is a whole fascinating history behind plant-based inks and how they came to be, but one that comes up often is soy-based. And it’s just what you think it is – ink made from soybeans. And its ink that provides accurate color matches and make it possible to recycle the bag that is using this type of ink, much easier.

Use paper with post-consumer content; Creating your bags with 40% and higher post-consumer waste is already taking a step towards a greener practice. This lets you reuse waste that would normally just end up in our landfills. It may seem like a small step, but it does help decrease your carbon footprint in big ways.

Consider your handles more; One way to consider your handles in a green initiative for your brand would be using a paper-based handle. We’ve all seen different types of handles out there, made from ribbon and woven materials. But, did you know there is more than just the common paper twist handles? There are woven paper handles that elevate an eco-friendly brand packaging even higher. They can come in all different colors and sizes, from round to even flat. If you really are opposed to the paper-based handles and prefer a ribbon, you can also use the bottom of your bag to post a message that helps advise your customers to remove the handles from the bag before recycling. This will bring us to our next and final way to make your shopping bag greener for 2021.

Add bottom markings to your bag; We’ve already discussed the FSC Certificate logo on the bottom of the bags earlier but, did you know you can also have a custom message placed there, as well? You can help encourage your customers to reuse and recycle their bag, or how to properly dispose of their bag. You can let them know you created this bag using 40% or more post-consumer waste. The possibilities are truly endless.

Any of these points of advice listed are things that should protect you against most bag bans, and that’s just an added bonus! But, most importantly, it also helps you get a step closer to a greener branded shopping bag and identity.

The Reusable Bag

It may seem all of those ideas pointed more towards a paper bag, but most of them can also cross-over to when you prefer a reusable bag for your brand. Here are some more ways you can make your reusable bags even greener.

Design the bag with reuse in mind; Creating a bag of reusable material is just the first step. When you design your bag, the structure and artwork can also call out why you chose to go in this direction. Something that can stand out to your customers when they are shopping your brand.

Avoid using zippers or other hardware so they can be recycled; Much like considering different handles on paper bags, the same can be said for reusable bags. Zippers, grommets, any type of hardware can make it harder to recycle the bag after it’s been used to its full potential.

Consider using rPET; Finding solutions to different types of materials that are even greener than the next is always happening. One that has been steadily on the rise is one called rPET – material made from recycled plastic bottles from around the world. A quick version of how this happens is, plastic bottles are taken to a factory where they are broken down and made into a fiber that then can be spun into clothes, shoes and your shopping bags. It’s giving those pesky plastic bottles a second life, instead of having them end up in our oceans and landfills.

Consider using a natural highly renewable source; Cotton. You can never go wrong with the use of a classic, and cotton is just that – classic and always reliable. Not to mention, you can earn extra bonus points for certified cottons. Most natural fabrics and materials are easy to reuse over and over, being able to keep them clean and their durability.

All of the above pointers and tips about shopping bags can be applied to any type of retail packaging. Boxes, gift card holders, pouches, garment bags, and so on. There are so many ways to bring your brand to a greener state-of-mind, these days. And we have plenty of ideas on how to help. So, if you are looking to improve your carbon footprint in 2021, while staying on point with all the latest packaging trends, just reach out and let us know how we can help.

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