How to Calculate the Carbon Footprint of Packaging

One of the biggest headlines of the past few years is climate change. Countries like the United States and many of their European allies have taken steps to work toward a future that promotes recycling, solar and wind power, and implementing whatever small wins possible – this includes doing the part to lessen packaging’s carbon footprint. 

Wait, packaging has a carbon footprint? 

We can calculate environmental impact by measuring the pollution caused by the manufacturing process, transport, and residual life of product packaging. This is a crucial metric to follow because while it’s the right thing to do, there will be more and more laws passed to ensure companies comply with the newest environmental regulations, no matter where you live. 

We all know that both the United States and Europe are passing laws to tamper with the effects of humans on the natural ecosystem. There are a few gasses associated with the overall carbon footprint that isn’t just carbon dioxide, which include: 

  • Methane (CH₄)
  • Nitrous oxide (N2O)
  • Hydrofluorocarbons (HFC)
  • Perfluorocarbons (PFC)
  • Sulfur hexafluoride (SF6)

All these specific greenhouse gasses can have a massive effect on our world, and fighting them from the ground floor can make all of the difference, even if the contribution is small. 

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How does the carbon footprint get calculated? 

A few criteria judge greenhouse gasses and how they’re impactful:

  • Transporting raw materials is typically factored by calculating things like: factory > storage > shop > the end consumer.
  • Production – raw materials used in the design, creation, and transformation.

And then, the fundamental question is asked: what’s the product’s recyclability? Can it be reused? Was it made from recycled materials? 

So, how does the packaging carbon footprint calculator work? Businesses can estimate carbon footprints with the help of international calculators like the GHG Protocol (Greenhouse Gas Protocol). The U.K. provides conversion factors for companies to report greenhouse gas emissions accurately to comply with strict reporting regulations.

How do we reduce the packaging industry’s carbon footprint? 

It’s not as hard as you think. Impact means everything, even if it’s a small one. Like we said, every step matters. If you’re a young company and want to go green, that’s awesome, and we’re here for it. If you’re a monolithic enterprise who’s been making things for years, we’re here to educate you, too. 

There are plenty of ways to reduce your packaging footprint, but these are three great places to start: 

Check out your dimensions 

Are you sure your packaging fits your product? Have you checked the cardboard you’re using for your package design to ensure it’s too big? Analyse everything because if you’re not, material weight, labels and leaflets can contribute to cost with raw materials, shipping, transportation, and in many cases, the effectiveness of product protection. 

Be picky about materials

If most packages are plastic, paper, and cardboard, are there ways to check what else is out there? Look at what your packaging is made from. Is there a recycled or biodegradable option?

Plastic is the most egregious of the bunch because a kilogram of plastic equals 3.5kg of CO2 emitted into the atmosphere. That’s crazy. Instead, can you look into options like roll stock packaging or resealable packaging, so products keep longer? 

Work with a partner as passionate about the environment as you

It seems simple enough, but working to create a brand that’s committed to sustainability matters. At ePac, we’re proudly digital. Starting there is an excellent way to lessen impact because we don’t need plates and can make changes on the fly – without wasting raw materials if something doesn’t look correct. 

We’re also dedicated to following the U.K.’s lead on waste and resource initiatives regarding recycling and biodegradable materials, and we’ve got options that serve both. 

We source raw materials to produce roll stock and plastic pouches that can be recycled or composted, including plastic films, inks, and adhesives. We also use sustainable inks that don’t harm the environment, either.

Flexible packaging is incredible for the environment because it promotes lesser food waste. After all, the packages are resealable, requiring less to create the packaging. 

We’re here to talk if you’re looking for a partner who cares about the environment and is not just a tagline or slogan. Sustainability has been a part of our ethos since day one. If you’re curious about how ePac can help your company stand out on shelves with killer graphics and a tactile feel, we can help. But, more importantly, we’ve got you covered if you want to lessen your impact as we fight climate change daily. 

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