Sustainable Food Packaging Trends in 2022

One of the most significant initiatives for businesses of all sizes is creating sustainable packaging. Thanks to supply chain issues in dealing with the fallout from COVID, more states are passing laws that invest into a long-broken recycling system. But those laws are one piece of the puzzle. 

There need to be better solutions. Both sustainable food packaging and sustainable packaging for everyday goods have become hot topics in many industries, for both investors and consumers alike, thanks to rising concerns about carbon footprint and plastic usage. 

Some people think sustainable packaging can be recycled once used, but there’s more to it than that. From design to end-of-life, from material sourcing to what happens after sustainable packaging does its job, packaging should be considered carefully.

2022 will be a watershed year for many businesses. And for packaging, we’ll see thoughtful changes that ask ethical questions about how our goods are packaged and sold to consumers. 

After looking through data and talking with our thought leaders, we came up with a list of some of the things to keep an eye out moving into 2022: 

1. Accountability Will be the Norm 

Investors and consumers alike care about accountability. With multiple laws on the books inching toward 2025, and specific goal posts set by the US government and global leaders, some of the world’s largest brands, like Anheuser-Busch, are making commitments toward more ethical business practices. 

Plastic can take up to 1,000 years to decompose, depending on the material. Poland started using pressed hay for egg cartons, and IKEA has committed to packaging made from mushrooms

There’s even a tool called Ubuntoo that rates environmental impact. Many companies base their metrics on the tool, which facilitates informed action. Corporate leaders must acknowledge their positions and bottom lines, and invest in different forms of packaging if they’re going to meet the new standards and government requirements by 2025. 

2. Brands Will Get Serious About Sustainable Packaging

Eco-friendly packaging isn’t new, but advancements make it a much more affordable solution, thanks to sustainable packaging design. Biodegradable and compostable packaging options are becoming more popular thanks to their reduced impact on the environment. 

Thinking strategically about how your packaging impacts the environment is bedrock to progress moving forward – there’s even an understanding packaging scorecard dedicated to sustainable packaging. 

Some of the world’s top brands like Gucci have experimented with using bamboo paper, biodegradable seals, and stone paper. Minimalist packaging is also making an impact thanks to its adherence to using less of everything, including ink, cardboard for packaging, and less internal materials.

3. Producer Responsibility Will Matter 

Extended producer responsibility (EPR), which already existed in Europe and Canada, finally reached America last year. Many states passed laws demanding manufacturers help pay for packaging collection and processing. In 2022, we’ll see more brands adopt transparency in their product messaging, stating just how recyclable and biodegradable they are. 

The Understanding Packaging Scorecard Tool

Consumers have had no way to verify which products are recyclable or biodegradable. This is partly due to lack of federal standards, no enforcement, and the lack of clarity as to what’s considered “green.” With EPR, brands now have two years to define what’s recyclable clearly, and states like California will audit what’s entering processing facilities and what’s shipped out.

Oregon and Maine required companies selling packaged goods to join a producer responsibility organization (PRO) and pay their membership fees while reporting the quantity and types of packaged products sold. Oregon requires the 25 largest producers to disclose environmental impacts on their portfolios. 

Both state laws demand that brands state if the material is recyclable, which clears up some of the challenges for the recycling system. Oregon’s law will infuse $82 million a year into the state’s recycling system.

4. Companies Will Celebrate Recycling 

For packaging to be recyclable, it needs to meet three criteria: 

  • Be separable
  • Labeled correctly
  • Clean of any fluids or debris

Something as seemingly minor as using different inks can be impactful. Petroleum-based inks contain volatile organic compounds dangerous to humans and animals. Vegetable and soy-based inks are biodegradable, easier to de-ink when recycled, and are much less likely to release toxic chemicals. Using inks that aren’t toxic makes for easier recycling. 

Additionally, exterior elements like flame retardants, fragrances, and biocides hurt flora and fauna. Washington, California, and Maine joined states passing legislation to ban poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in packaging. Nationally, a bipartisan bill was introduced banning PFAS from food containers.

Brands should educate their customers on recycling, or about sustainable packaging, as some consumers may not be aware of what to do. Even simple labeling can go far if there are clear directions. 

5. Brands are Getting Serious About Rethinking E-commerce Packaging

When the pandemic took over our lives, it affected shopping in a big way. Ordering with a click on our phones has now become routine. Businesses are seeing significant upticks through their online stores, which means they’re sending out products non-stop through the mail. Because of so many packages going out, this is a prime market opportunity for sustainable packaging design.

Not only can brands personalize their packages with names or designs specific to the company identity, but it’s an opportunity to make packaging sustainable. There are things to consider like: can we make this packaging with different, more sustainable materials? Can it be recycled? Or can we add something like simple instructions or a QR code to inform customers on what to do with the package once it’s opened in terms of correct disposal, upcycling, or reuse? 

There will be a big changes in 2022 across the board and throughout many industries. Sustainable food packaging and sustainable packaging, in general, will be hot topics explored as markets and consumer demands are constantly changing. 

If you’re interested in how you can change your food packaging sustainability, we’d love to help. 


Eco-Friendly vs Sustainable Packaging: What Are the Differences?

As a CPG firm, small or large, the pressure is on for you to increase your brand’s sustainability. From choosing recycled materials, reducing your carbon footprint, and lightweighting your packaging, there are many ways to adopt sustainable practices to create a more environmentally conscious brand. 

But have you considered the difference between eco-friendly packaging and being a sustainable company? In this post we will explore what it means to be sustainable, what kinds of packaging are considered eco-friendly, and the best practices that will help you boost your overall sustainability.

An Emphasis on Eco-Friendly Materials

As you explore creating your next package, it’s important to consider that materials matter. 

Are you packaging your product in a rigid plastic container or a flexible pouch? Which one is more eco-friendly, and why?

You may already know this, but flexible packaging is highly regarded for its many consumer benefits, from its ease of use, light weight and shatterproof properties, as well as numerous sustainable benefits. 

According to the Flexible Packaging Association (FPA), flexible packaging uses less resources to create than other package formats. 

Image Source: Flexible Packaging Association (FPA)

“For example, to create packaging for 60 pounds of beverage, you would need 50 pounds of glass, six pounds of rigid PET (polyethylene terephthalate), three pounds of aluminum and a mere one and a half pounds of flexible plastic.”

The lightweight nature of flexible packaging results in the optimal amount of packaging being used, with the least amount of resources necessary to protect the product. 

This lighter weight also means that flexible packaging costs far less to transport as more packages can fit on each truckload. According to the FPA, to transport packaging for equal amounts of product, you would need 26 truckloads of unfilled glass jars, compared to only one truckload of unfilled flexible pouches.

With flexible packaging, you can also choose specific eco-friendly materials like PCR (post-consumer recycled), fully recyclable films, and even biodegradable or compostable options. 

At ePac, we offer recyclable PE-PE films, which are suitable for store drop-off recycling programs, as well as films made from PCR resin content that are FDA-compliant for direct food contact and can accommodate high-impact, photo-quality graphics. 

We also offer compostable options for stand-up pouches, lay flat pouches, and rollstock made from certified compostable materials. These pouches are composed of compostable certified films, inks, lamination, adhesive, and zippers, and are free of fossil and petroleum plastics. These material options are considered eco-friendly and will go a long way in reducing your company’s carbon footprint, as well as get you noticed by eco-conscious shoppers.*

A Sustainable Approach 

Aside from the materials involved in package development, it’s important to consider the sustainable practices that make a company or brand “green.” It really comes down to the packaging or printing process. 

Did you know that compared to analogue, or conventional printing, digital printing is a far more sustainable option since it uses less energy, produces less waste, and has a smaller carbon footprint overall? When compared to traditional (or analogue) printing, digital printing:

  • Reduces the impact on the environment
  • Saves time at set up
  • Saves on materials and transport with short runs
  • Affords you the ability to print on demand
  • Saves on the waste of unsold inventory  
  • Offers a streamlined ordering process, taking the confusion (and time) out of ordering and customizing your perfect package

At ePac we use only carbon-neutral HP printers that ensure that the process of digitally printing our quality pouches and rollstock has a lower environmental impact than conventional printing. 

The HP digital printers at ePac use polymer-based inks, which do not contain any hazardous air pollutants (HAPs). These sustainable inks consume less energy and emit fewer greenhouse gases than solvent-based or UV-curable inks typically used in traditional packaging manufacturing. 

Plus, digital printing helps to reduce waste. Because there are no plates to set up at the start of each project, less materials are required. No plates mean less materials to create initially and then replace over the years, as well as for the setup of each individual SKU. 

Also, with this technology, you can order what you need when you need it. This allows you to avoid wasting unused or obsolete packaging from a changed recipe, branding or design changes, regulation changes, or even unused product from a decrease in sales.

Ordering on demand also means you never have to hold a large inventory, unless you want to. A reduction in excess inventory not only prevents brands from their unused packaging going into the landfill, but also saves brands potentially wasted money. 

While there are several ways to improve your company’s overall sustainability, focusing on the packaging (both materials and printing process) is a huge step toward going green. 

Consider that the type of packaging and printing can help you reduce waste and emit fewer carbon emissions. Want to learn more about all of the green benefits of utilizing digitally printed flexible packaging? Give us a call and we will walk you through our many sustainable options so you can get started today. 

*depending on material availability.

Sustainable Packaging & The CPG Industry: What To Expect in 2022

2022 is just around the corner and we’re already seeing packaging trends lining up. Sustainability has been a huge buzzword in the packaging industry, and that doesn’t look like it’s going to change in the coming year. 

According to Business Wire, the global sustainable packaging market size was $218.18 Billion in 2020 and it’s estimated that the growth will continue, reaching $323.32 Billion by 2026. Mordor Intelligence says that, “Rising environmental concerns and growing public awareness about eco-friendly products are the dynamic factors behind the rapid growth of the sustainable packaging market over the forecast period.”

So what does 2022 have in store for us?

The Rise of Smart Packaging

Smart packaging, also known as connected packaging, is on the rise. Connected packaging uses unique QR codes to make each package into a digital tool that delivers valuable insights and information to brand owners and consumers alike.

One of the great benefits of connected packaging is that it gives you the ability to trace a package’s journey from beginning to end. Consumers can use this track and trace ability by scanning the code and learning about a product’s sourcing ingredients, as well as the product’s journey. Brand owners can use it to obtain critical information about the supply chain and can track a package’s journey to the point of purchase and beyond, all the way through to disposal or recycling.

In an interview with FoodNavigator-USA, Anne Greven, head of food and agriculture innovation at Rabobank said “It’s all about revolutionizing supply chains, especially in proven weak spots due to the pandemic.”

Additionally, with serialized QR codes – the next wave in connected packaging which is seeing important growth in the CPG industry – vendors can drive direct-to-consumer (DTC) engagement with consumers from the grocery store shelf as well as collect detailed demographic and market data.

Utilizing Local Packaging Suppliers

When companies think of sustainability, it has to go beyond just eco-friendly packaging materials. The bigger question is how to cut down on their footprint. 

The rising ‘buy local’ movement isn’t just for consumers anymore. Companies are starting to choose local packaging companies in earnest, instead of relying on overseas suppliers. This cuts down on fuel emissions that would come from shipping the packaging across the world. 

Local packaging companies can also better help meet eco-friendly goals for that specific country, whether by using certified materials or working – or knowing how to work – with companies that can provide certification, like How2Recycle in the United States.

By working within their area or country, companies are proving a commitment to sustainable packaging.

Compostable Packaging Growth Continues

Many brands are making the switch to compostable packaging as a way to do their part in helping the environment and to tap into the market of eco-conscious consumers.

Research shows that using compostable packaging has proven to significantly cut down on landfill trash volume, reduce the carbon emissions it takes to haul and process materials, and create the optimal environment for all types of farms and gardens.

The Beginnings of Cold Seal Packaging

Cold seal packaging uses an adhesive to seal the package, and unlike heat sealing, doesn’t require any heat, just pressure. 

Driving the adoption of cold sealing is its speed, as it can double line speeds sealing. Another benefit of cold sealing is that because there is no heat, there’s no need to wait for the machines to heat up, and no need to worry about heat damaging your package or product. 

Starting in 2021, the cold seal packaging market has been growing at a steady rate with more and more companies taking part, and 2022 looks to be continuing that trend.

Trending: Micro-Perforated Films

Micro-perforated films are films that have very small holes that are lasered in to allow interaction with the outside environment. As more benefits are found, more brands are coming on board. Research published on Markets and Markets shows that the global micro-perforated films market was USD 1.19 Billion in 2016 and is projected to reach USD 1.50 Billion by 2022.

Micro-perforated films extend a product’s shelf life, which helps to cut down on food waste. They do this by allowing air to circulate, but since the holes are so small, other agents are not able to get in. 

These films are particularly helpful with fresh produce because the air circulation stops moisture from building up and keeps the produce fresh, while making sure they are still protected in the package.

Exploring Plant Based Materials

As the demand for sustainable packaging increases, companies are trying to meet expectations by experimenting with different plant based materials in their packaging. 

The biggest ones on the market currently are packaging made from seaweed, hemp, or corn. Packaging made from these materials can break down much faster than plastic, and are more sustainable overall.

While plant based packaging is still a niche market, options in 2022 are increasing as the research shows the long term benefits. 

Choosing a Sustainable Packaging Partner

ePac Flexible Packaging is watching upcoming sustainable trends and acting to meet business’s demand.

Our digital printing process is inherently more eco-friendly than traditional printing, with our use of carbon-neutral HP printers and polymer-based inks that don’t contain any hazardous air pollutants (HAPs). 

We offer multiple sustainable packaging options including recyclable, post-consumer recycled (PCR), and compostable. 

If sustainable premium packaging is your goal, call ePac today and learn more.

Food Packaging Innovations: How to Balance Sustainability & Functionality

Sustainability matters to consumers and it starts with the packaging process. According to Nielsen, 75% of Millennials say they are willing to change their habits to reduce their impact on the environment. And 90% are willing to pay more for products that contain environmentally friendly or sustainable ingredients. 

However, as “green” as a food package may be, it still ultimately needs to be functional. Luckily in today’s market you can achieve both sustainability and functionality to satisfy these consumer needs.

Sustainable Packaging 

As we look ahead to the future of packaging, it’s clear that sustainability will play an even stronger role in branding than it does now. Packaging World predicts that, “with an emphasis on building a circular economy, consumers expect packaging companies to ‘do the right thing’ in material choices and package design.” According to Mintel, 52% of U.S. food shoppers prefer to buy foods with minimal, or no packaging to reduce packaging waste. 

So, how can packaging be more sustainable? Consider using PCR, recyclable, or compostable films for your sustainable food packaging.

What are the differences between these three?

  • PCR stands for Post-Consumer Recycled, which means these materials are made from recycled items like aluminum, cardboard boxes, paper, and plastic bottles. These materials are collected, sorted, and melted (or ground) into small pellets and molded into new items. 
  • Recyclable packaging, including PE-PE film, is suitable for store drop-off recycling programs.
  • Compostable packaging is manufactured using plant-based or fossil fuel materials. It is designed to break down in a short amount of time without leaving behind any toxic residue. 

When it comes to choosing what type of printer to manufacture your packaging, consider a local digital printer. When compared to traditional, or flexographic printing, digital printing is a far more sustainable option. Digital printing uses less energy, produces less waste, and has a smaller carbon footprint overall. Since you don’t use printing plates in digital printing, you save time and materials at set up. Need a quick change? You can order on demand so you’ll carry less inventory, minimizing waste.

Functional Packaging

How a package is handled can have a big impact on consumer retention and loyalty. It should protect the contents inside and engage with consumers through marketing, but also through form and function. 

More than anything consumers crave convenience. Adding options like the ability to stand-up, reseal, handles, tear notches, and more all help consumers better interact with and use your product. 

According to recent research cited by Packaging World, what adds appeal for consumers is ease of use and disposal. Resealability is one of the top three packaging attributes of flexible packaging rated by consumers according to the Flexible Packaging Association

In addition to functionality and convenience, packaging needs to keep products from going stale, need to be child resistant and needs to be air tight so liquids are contained.

Eco-Friendly Packaging Partner

It’s important to work with a supplier that can provide the sustainable solutions and key package attributes to create the right package at the right price. 

At ePac, we utilize the HP Indigo 20000 digital printing press, which is a carbon neutral machine. Additionally, the HP digital printers use polymer-based inks, which do not contain any hazardous air pollutants (HAPs). These sustainable inks consume less energy and emit fewer greenhouse gases than solvent-based or UV-curable inks typically used in traditional packaging. 

We will partner with you to create the right innovative packaging that marries sustainability and functionality―two qualities that matter to today’s consumer. Ready to get started? 

Eco-Friendly Packaging: 5 Ways for Brands to Go Green

Today just about every company is talking about “going green” and beefing up sustainable practices to lessen their impact on the environment. 

Both consumer packaged goods companies and shoppers are placing more emphasis on green initiatives. According to Nielsen, 75% of Millennials say they are willing to change their habits to reduce their impact on the environment, and 90% are willing to pay more for products that contain environmentally friendly or sustainable ingredients. 

As a brand owner, it’s important to think about lessening your environmental impact, from choosing sustainable materials to lowering your carbon footprint, to finding ways to reduce waste. Wherever you are on your journey, consider the following ways to go green in today’s environment. 

Mind Your Materials 

The materials used in packaging make a difference on your environmental impact. Consider using eco-friendly packaging for food and other products instead of traditional petroleum-based plastic. 

  • Recyclable packaging, including PE-PE film, is suitable for store drop-off recycling programs. Using recyclable packaging means less materials end up in a landfill.
Recyclable packaging from Evolved Snacks
  • PCR, or post-consumer recycled materials, are made from the items consumers recycle every day. Making new products from PCR materials removes plastic from the environment by converting discarded materials back into resin that can be used again. 

Using recycled content for flexible packaging has significant environmental advantages, such as reducing energy consumption and the extraction of finite resources, because reprocessing existing plastics uses less energy and fossil fuels.

  • Compostable pouches are made of compostable-certified films, inks, lamination, adhesive, and zippers, and are free of fossil and petroleum plastics. 

Using compostable packaging for your product line-up  cuts down on the amount of trash in landfills and reduces the costs and carbon emissions of hauling and processing those materials.

Using eco-friendly materials like those listed here may help your company reduce its carbon footprint, minimize its impact on landfills, and meet sustainability goals.

Packaging from No Harm Done

Choose Digital Printing

Sustainability starts with the packaging process. Did you know that compared to traditional, or flexographic printing, digital printing is a far more sustainable option? It uses less energy, produces less waste, and has a smaller carbon footprint. 

Plus if you choose a digital printer that uses the HP Indigo 20000 digital printing presses, your packaging will be manufactured using carbon neutral machines and polymer-based inks, which are free of hazardous air pollutants (HAPs). These sustainable inks consume less energy and emit fewer greenhouse gases than solvent-based or UV-curable inks typically used in traditional packaging manufacturing. 

Print On Demand 

With digital printing technology, brands can print on demand, ordering what they need when they need it, thus avoiding inventory and obsolescence cost and waste.

Subsequently, you avoid wasting unused packaging from a changed recipe, branding or design changes, regulation changes, or even unused product from a decrease in sales. Ordering on demand means you never have to keep large inventories, unless you want to. Reducing excess inventory not only cuts costs, but also prevents unused packaging going into the landfill. 

With the ability to print to demand, print multiple SKUs in one run, and place low minimum orders, brands can dramatically reduce obsolescence (both waste and costs) when compared to conventional printing methods. 

Partner with a Local Company 

When attempting to lessen your carbon footprint, consider that going with a local printer will reduce the carbon emissions of importing product from overseas or even from cross-country transportation. This not only means less emissions but faster turnaround time too. 

Connect with Your Customers

There are several ways to connect with your customers, and some can even help you find out if your product is being disposed of correctly. 

Through track and trace methods, you can follow a package’s journey from the beginning to the end. Consumers may use track and trace by scanning the code and learning about sourcing ingredients, the product’s journey from farm to table (or store), and how to properly dispose of the package. 

Brand owners can use track and trace to obtain critical information about the supply chain that will help to strengthen logistics and follow that package’s journey to the point of purchase and beyond, all the way through to disposal or recycling. 

Eco Friendly Packaging Company 

ePac is dedicated to providing sustainable packaging solutions through the use of carbon neutral digital printers and offering multiple environmentally friendly packaging options. 

ePac’s connected packaging solution, ePacConnect, allows brand owners to personalize how they engage with their consumers, verify authenticity, and trace their product’s journey, all through their own digitally enabled, flexible packaging. It also allows brand owners to collect information all the way down to the individual product level to enhance business intelligence like never before. Our technology is based on variable data composition only possible through the digital printing process offered by ePac. 

Want to get started with eco-friendly custom packaging? Call us today and take advantage of all the sustainable benefits of digital printing.

Compostable vs. Biodegradable: What’s the Difference?

Sustainable, recyclable, compostable, biodegradable— there are a lot of buzzwords used to describe eco-friendly packaging. Each has a place within the packaging realm; each has its own pros and cons. We’ve covered post-consumer recycled versus recyclable packaging options in the past, but what about compostable versus biodegradable packaging… Do you know the difference?

What is Biodegradable Packaging?

The term biodegradable refers to any material that can be broken down by microorganisms (like bacteria and fungi) and absorbed back into the earth. Biodegradation is a naturally occurring process where an item breaks down and turns into simple organic components like biomass, carbon dioxide, and water. 

For packaging to be labeled biodegradable, it must be able to turn into organic matter. Generally, biodegradable packaging breaks down in three and six months. 

The potential con to biodegradation is that biodegradables only work if disposed of properly and in facilities that regulate temperature, moisture, and oxygen levels. For instance, if biodegradable products end up in a landfill instead of at one of these facilities, they will eventually break down (biodegrade), but during the process will emit greenhouse gases, which doesn’t help to lessen their impact on the environment. 

So if you’re looking for custom biodegradable packaging, remember there must be specific conditions for it to turn into organic matter in an environmentally friendly way.

Compostable Packaging Definition

Composting is the process of recycling organic waste for reuse. When carried out correctly, compostable packaging is broken down in just a few months and the by-product is a nutrient-rich product called humus. 

A big plus? The composting process allows organic carbon to return to the earth while reducing  methane emissions (greenhouse gases). 

There are two ways to compost – a traditional backyard compost pile, or a commercial facility. Backyard composting takes place at people’s homes while commercial composting takes place at a specially designed facility that accelerates the natural process. Unlike biodegradation, which is an entirely natural process, composting requires human intervention. Most of the human intervention in industrial and backyard settings involves the contribution of the water, oxygen, and organic matter necessary to optimize conditions. 

The great thing about composting is that it can be done at home, though it must be properly managed so that the nutrient-rich material can return to the earth. 

It’s worth noting that just because packaging is labeled compostable doesn’t mean consumers can successfully compost it. Instead, some compostable packaging must be sent to commercial facilities that regulate the environmental conditions necessary for composting. This is why it’s imperative that packages are labeled properly so consumers know the best way to dispose of it. 

While composting capabilities vary greatly from one community to another, compostable packaging serves as an eco-friendly alternative to conventional packaging.

What is Better Compostable or Biodegradable?

To summarize, both biodegradable and compostable packaging break down over time. But they require different conditions in order for that process to work. 

Biodegradable products will break down naturally if given enough time, but the process can be sped up with the correct processes. Compostable products require a mix of moisture, soil, air, and other nitrogen and/or carbon-rich elements. While the composting process requires specific elements, it is generally much faster than biodegradation. 

Partnering with ePac

At ePac, we believe that compostable products are a great option for the environment because they break down into non-toxic components with the assistance of heat, water, oxygen, and microorganisms. 

That’s why we offer compostable options for stand up pouches, lay flat pouches, and rollstock made from certified compostable materials. These pouches are composed of compostable certified films, inks, lamination, adhesive, and zippers, and are free of fossil and petroleum based plastics. All our compostable custom packaging comes with the same high-quality performance and print quality as our more traditional offerings. 
If you’re trying to reduce your environmental impact, using certified compostable materials is a great start. Ready to get started on creating sustainable packaging solutions for your brand? Call us today.

ePac Flexible Packaging Launches Sustainable Child Resistant Pouch Line

ePac is excited to announce the launch of Certified Child Resistant (CR) Resealable pouches made with Post Consumer Recycled (PCR) materials. This was made possible due to an innovative collaboration between ePac, Presto, and Charter NEX. 

Virag Patel, ePac’s COO commented: “The teamwork between Charter, Presto, an ePac has been phenomenal, and the key to being able to bring this innovation to market. With Presto’s focus on child safety, Charter’s GreenArrow™ film engineered for sustainability, and ePac’s focus on child resistant pouches and sustainability, we’re proud to announce its commercial availability”.

Click here to read the full press release.

Digital Printing & Sustainability: 4 Reasons Digital Print is an Eco-Friendly Choice

As more and more consumers and retailers are looking for companies that offer eco-friendly options, brand owners are oftentimes left wondering where to begin when it comes to developing their sustainability goals. Large brands like Nestlé and General Mills have committed to more sustainable packaging and regenerative farming methods that help reduce greenhouse gas emissions; however, oftentimes small and medium-sized brands are left wondering how they too can stay environmentally-friendly and relevant, without investing significant resources, or without a complete overhaul? 

As a brand owner, you can start by looking at your product development. By assessing where you are sourcing your ingredients, your packaging, your energy usage, waste, and more will help to align your actions with your vision. A simple place to begin evaluating your options is by turning to your current distribution and manufacturing partners, or finding new partners, to see which eco-friendly options are available.

Eco-Friendly Digital Printing

When it comes to flexible packaging, there are many sustainable options available. Brand owners can go the sustainable packaging route, with recyclable, post-consumer recycled, or compostable packaging. Or, brands can partner with a packaging manufacturer offering digital print, an inherently more earth-friendly printing method. Some companies are even able to offer both options.

So, is digital printing sustainable? Today, we’re diving into 4 reasons why digital print is an eco-friendly choice for brands of all sizes, and why it may be a good choice for your brand. 

1. Digital Printing Helps to Reduce Emissions

Regardless of the type of packaging you choose for your brand, it’s important to take into consideration the carbon footprint and emissions released during production. 

The great news about digital printers is that they produce far less CO2 emissions than many traditional and rovograture printing presses. At ePac, our HP Indigo 20000 presses are carbon neutral, allowing the process of digitally printing our pouches and rollstock to have a lower environmental impact than conventional printing. 

A reduction in emissions = a happier earth. 

ePac’s HP Indigo 20000 press at their Austin, Texas location. Our presses allow us to simultaneously focus on high-quality flexible packaging and the environment.

2. Digital Printing Reduces Waste 

With digital printing, waste is reduced substantially. Unlike with conventional printers, with sustainable digital printing, printing plates are not needed for the creation, setup, and production of each SKU. Printing plates wear and tear with time, and new plates need to be created anytime there is a change made to a packaging design, leading to more wasted materials. With digital print, files are uploaded to the press and printed, as you would do on your home printer, which eliminates the waste associated with plates. 

Bottom line: No plates means less materials are required, and less waste is produced.

3. Digital Printing Reduces Inventory Waste & Obsolescent Packaging 

With the ability to print to demand, print multiple SKUs in one run, and place low minimum orders, brands can drastically reduce obsolescence (both waste and costs) when compared to conventional printing methods. Never again do you have to throw out packaging and lose money due to a changed recipe, design, certification, or regulation. 

By cutting down on obsolescence, digital printing helps to keep unused plastic packaging out of landfills, and more money in your pocket.

4. Digital Printing & Eco-Friendly Flexible Packaging Materials 

The materials involved in digital print – from the inks to the films – are also sustainable. In addition to our HP digital presses being carbon neutral, they use polymer-based inks, which do not contain any hazardous air pollutants (HAPs). These sustainable inks consume less energy and emit fewer greenhouse gases than solvent-based or UV-curable inks typically used in traditional packaging manufacturing.  

With digital printing, you also have sustainable packaging options, including recyclable PE-PE films, as well as films made from post-consumer recycled (PCR) resin content. Both types of packaging keep plastic out of landfills, which is a win-win for brands and consumers alike.  

Eco friendly flexible packaging, made of post-consumer recycled materials, from our friends at Hella Nuts.

Digital Printing and Your Brand 

As you can see, digital printing serves your small to medium-sized company so you can align your sustainability goals, without a complete brand overhaul. The fact is, switching to digital printing will save you from wasted resources and time. You’ll also enjoy an easy ordering process, and more money in your business, since less will be tied up in inventory.

Plus, compared to analogue, or conventional printing, digital printing is a far more sustainable option since it uses less energy, produces less waste, and has a smaller carbon footprint overall. When it comes to flexible package creation, the environmentally conscious choice is digital printing.

Want to learn more? Check out HP’s video that explains how digital printing technology can easily help you create a more sustainable product and lower your carbon footprint, while delivering a superior package.

Partnering with a Digitally Printed Flexible Packaging Manufacturer

Digital printing sustainability is crucial. If you’re curious about what digitally printed custom flexible packaging could do for your brand, our team of flexible packaging experts would love to talk to you. Give us a call or request a free quote to take advantage of our flexible packaging services with all the benefits of digital printing including sustainability, short runs, fast turnaround time, and endless customizable design options. 

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ePac Flexible Packaging and RePurpose Technologies Create Disruptive Solution for Plastics Recycling

ePac is excited to announce a new partnership with RePurpose Technologies.  This partnership will allow both companies to help create solutions that ensure plastics are recycled and kept from landfills. ePac and RPT together will create recycling facilities starting in 2021.

“I’m excited to be a part of the team and the collaboration with ePac that allows everyone to take action and be part of the solution” said Claudine Osipow, CEO of RePurpose Technologies. 

Jack Knott, ePac’s CEO added: “The reason we started ePac was to play a small part in rebuilding our communities; our relationship with RPT will allow us to continue in that direction with a reliable, sustainable, and transparent solution”.

Click here to read the full press release.

What You Need to Know About Post-Consumer Recycled (PCR) Packaging

Both savvy shoppers and consumer packaged goods companies are placing more emphasis on sustainability, reducing waste, and using less energy. As a brand owner, your sustainability goals are more important now than ever, as consumers begin seeking out brands focused on the environment.  

When it comes to packaging, it’s no surprise that brands are looking for eco-friendly packaging. While recyclable or compostable packaging are the two most common types of sustainable packaging, there is a third choice gaining traction on the shelf – post consumer recycled (PCR) packaging.

What are Post-Consumer Recycled (PCR) Plastics? 

Post-consumer recycled content, often referred to as PCR, is material that is made from the items that consumers recycle every day, like aluminum, cardboard boxes, paper, and plastic bottles. These materials are typically collected by local recycling programs and shipped to recycling facilities to be sorted into bales, based on the material. The bales are then purchased and melted (or ground) into small pellets and molded into new items. The new PCR plastic material can then be used for a variety of finished products, including packaging.

How is PCR Packaging Different from Recyclable and Compostable Packaging?

Though PCR, recyclable, and compostable packaging are all sustainable packaging options, they each differ in the way that they are processed and what they can offer consumers. 

PCR packaging is manufactured with film that is made from recycled materials. In general, PCR packaging, such as post consumer recycled plastic, cannot be recycled again since it’s already made from recycled materials. This allows brands to fulfill their sustainability goals, without relying on the consumer to recycle or compost the package after use. 

A package is deemed recyclable when the materials can be processed and used again.  Once the package enters the recycling stream, it is broken down into raw materials and sold to manufacturers. One potential downside of recyclable packaging is that the benefits are dependent on the consumer actually recycling the package, and knowing where to recycle the package.

Lastly, compostable packaging is packaging that breaks down completely in a compost site and leaves no toxic residue. In order for a plastic to be called compostable, it must biodegrade, or break down into carbon dioxide, water, or biomass at the same rate as cellulose (paper).  One potential downside of compostable packaging is that not all consumers have access to industrial composting facilities. 

The Benefits of PCR Packaging 

While all eco-friendly packaging options are a step in the right direction for brands looking to be more sustainable, PCR packaging, in particular, has some benefits that are worth discussing. 

In general, PCR films are a great packaging option for brands looking for eco-friendly flexible packaging, and can be developed into stand up pouches, lay flat pouches, and rollstock. These films can be used in most industries including confection, coffee, baked goods, snacks, pharmaceuticals, herbal remedies, pet treats, and sports nutrition.

PCR packaging also matches the quality of regular flexible packaging. PCR film can offer the same level of protection, barrier performance, and strength as regular plastic film. You can rest assured knowing that PCR film will still block light, oxygen, and other gases from penetrating the package layer and getting into your product. 

Lastly, and quite possibly the most obvious benefit, is that using PCR material can help your company reduce its carbon footprint, lessen its impact on landfills, and meet its overall sustainability goals.

The best part? PCR packaging is a great option for brands who want to offer a sustainable solution for consumers, with no requirements or actions needed on the consumer end, unlike recyclable and compostable packaging. 

Finding a PCR Packaging Partner

As you examine your company’s sustainability goals, consider partnering with a PCR packaging manufacturing. At ePac, we offer PCR pouches, rollstock, and lay-flat pouches in varying percentages, for any of your project’s custom flexible packaging needs. Our PCR film is FDA-compliant for direct food contact and can accommodate high-impact, photo-quality graphics. It’s just one of our sustainable flexible packaging services that we deliver for our customers. Ready to get started, or want to learn more? Call us today or request a quote and see how using PCR can help you meet your sustainability goals. 

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