Sustainable Packaging: History And Where We Are

Sustainable packaging and sustainable consumer products are among the top trends in recent years especially among eCommerce giants around the world. The supply chain processes of countless businesses are growing more focused on making products and packaging safer and better for the environment.

But it has not always been like this. In fact, up until several decades back, very few businesses and individuals gave much thought to how product packaging can be made to reduce our collective carbon footprint. Yet, within a couple of centuries, so much advancement has been made in researching the best ways to improve and design new packaging.

A brief history of sustainable packaging

The history of sustainable packaging begins from 3500 years ago when glass bottles and jars were being used. However, they were expensive and only the rich could afford them. Much later in the late 1890s, branded consumer packages were produced and the race for better packaging began. From glass, plastic, metal, and foils, packaging took different forms until the late 1900s when the threat of global warming began to look real and more governments and businesses were forced to find better options to substitute for plastic and another non-degradable packaging. Sustainable packaging was born. It is however important to note that the first plastic was made from cellulose. This was a discovery that birthed the idea of producing packaging from organic sources.

Where we are today

Today, sustainable packaging is an industry of its own with backing from so many quarters. The different economic unions (European, American, African, Asia, etc.) have numerous committees committed to improving sustainable consumer products so ‘the needs of the present generation can be met without jeopardizing the future generations’.

Apart from the research aspect, most countries are adopting environmental laws and strategies to completely replace non-degradable materials with biodegradable packaging within a couple of decades.

The big brands are also not left out. For example, McDonald’s recently announced that by 2025 all of its products’ packaging will be made from recyclable materials. Other brands are also taking positive steps in making their products and packaging environment-friendly.

Now, we have various types of sustainable packaging including (but not limited to:

  1. Cornstarch packaging
  2. Bioplastic made from various organic sources
  3. Recycled cardboard and papers
  4. Inflatable air cases
  5. Roll cradles etc.

All these are easily available for sustainable consumer product packaging. They are in use to save not just production costs, but also the environment.