Recycling Thermoformed Packaging

For good reason, retailers and companies are increasingly concerned with the re-usability of packaging. Using materials that can be recycled and reused is not only good for the environment, but a selling point to eco-conscious customers. Recycling thermoformed packaging is one reason Sunrise Packaging loves promoting our thermoforming processes, but not the only one.

We turned to the current industry analysis and trends on industrial thermoform packaging material market to find out why this style of customized inserts and packaging is rapidly increasing in popularity.

Reasons to Love Recycling Thermoformed Packaging

It’s good for the globe.

Recycling plastic leads to a robust second life for a variety of products (see what kinds of plastics can be recycled). With the majority of thermoformed materials meeting the requirements for recycling initiatives, it allows consumers to buy with confidence. On a grander scale, it reduces greenhouse gasses and pollution, as well as the waste filling up dumps and natural environments. 

It’s good for the consumer.

And in more ways than you might think. It takes less energy to make products from recycled plastic than it does using virgin materials. It saves on oil, which in turn makes more oil available for heating homes and other uses. That’s just one example of how recycling thermoformed packaging helps the collective and not just individuals.

It’s good for your organization.

Thermoforming has a lot of advantages. It’s ligthweight but solid. It’s environmentally-friendly while providing stiff storage for products. Additionally, more and more products require the versatility offered by custom plastic packaging. Wood and glass can’t promise a moisture-free, odor-free environment that also blocks light. Oh, and while keeping weight and shipping costs down. 

Upcycling For The Greater Good

Upcycling‘ is becoming an increasingly popular term to further clarify recycling. It means taking a product and reusing it for a new purpose. But in such a way that creates a product of higher quality or value. It’s not exactly a new idea–there must have been some inventive upcycling going on through the Great Depression, right?–but it’s gained traction in our eco-friendly society. 

Choosing packaging that can be re-purposed is more than just a fiscal decision. As people become more educated about making choices, trends show that the demand for recyclable packaging will grow. Get ahead of the game by working with Sunrise Packaging to create recyclable thermoformed packaging!

What is a Designer Box?

Let’s start with what a designer box isn’t: plain cardboard.

Medela-OpenedIf you’re shipping out blouses, candy, promotional material, or whatever in uninspired packaging, you might as well be replace the word FRAGILE with DON’T BOTHER OPENING.

But why? A box is a box is a box, right? False. If that were true, everything you ever ordered online would arrive as though it were homemade cookies from your great aunt: cardboard, duct tape, and a scribbled address. But companies don’t spend all this time and money on cultivating top-tier products just to have them look like something you bought from somebody on eBay. Sure, there’s lots to love about corrugated. It’s cheap, padded, and disposable…but are those really words you want associated with your product?

Even e-retailers are being told to “ditch the brown box” by experts. Frankly, it’s a little on the boring side. Not to mention, it’s hard to establish brand identity with a box that looks like everyone else’s. Which brings us to the designer box.

Like designer anything, a designer box has features. It could be a unique opening, something outside the standard top flaps. Maybe it’s shiny foil trim, gold or silver. Perhaps it’s embossed handwriting, magnetic clasps, or a flocked interior. Maybe it’s all of the above.

gate_fold_designer_box_minnesota_vikings

One place to start is packaging that is rigid. This means the walls of the box are assembled using chipboard, a condensed form of cardboard that mimics the stiffness of thin particleboard. You might have experienced this type of packaging in smartphone packaging, or even with high-end board games. The result is more durability and, ultimately, reusability. That’s another designer difference: boxes can be eco-friendly as the day is long, but reusable packaging is smart packaging. It’s multifunctional, and therefore valuable. Pop quiz. What’s the better choice for bagging your groceries–paper or plastic? The answer is actual secret option C, a reusable bag. No matter the material, disposable products still contribute to waste.

As with most things, it’s important to remember your audience. Or maybe, recipients in this case. If your product is an all-organic, environmentally-minded soap, you might not want to include all the bells and whistles on your packaging. (You might not want to have packaging at all, but good luck with that at retail.) In this case, you might want to opt for the cardboard box. But that doesn’t mean you can’t spruce it up–even eBay knows that. And it’s totally possible with soy-based inks and water-based coatings. But for items with a higher price tag (think: electronics, tools, clothing), don’t you want packaging that matches the quality of your product? More than that, don’t you want the security and storage that comes along with designer packaging?

Nooka’s Tupperware Packaging

Have you even bought a watch and wondered why the packaging is so much bigger than the watch itself? Nooka, maker of sci-fi inspired watches, has recognized this problem and are taking a creative and eco-friendly approach to solving it. In an effort to produce sustainable packaging, they have decided to collaborate with SiliconeZone, maker of silicone based kitchenware.

The outcome? Packaging that is similar to that of Tupperware. This holiday season, Nooka’s watches will be shipped in boxes that are made out of cooking-grade silicone. These boxes are durable, reusable, and even microwave safe. So instead of throwing away the box after opening, it can be recycled and used to store pasta, soup, and anything else you can think of. Nooka will also eventually post recipes on its website that can be stored or made in their new packaging.

Although it is a little strange to think that it is possible to eat out of a box that a watch used to be packaged in, the idea is actually a part of how Nooka wants to operate its business. They believe in constant advances in technology and originality in design. Having an “anything is possible” mindset allows Nooka to be able to create possibilities that are sustainable and futuristic. They pride themselves in taking everyday objects and taking an alternative approach to making it better. The creation of an eco-friendly and reusable package is just the beginning for Nooka and it will be interesting to see what they think of next.

Coconuts find a Second Life

Waco-based Whole Tree has been researching uses for coconut husks for wo years, and recently partnered with packaging firm Compadre to design and test different uses for coconut-based materials. In addition to creating packaging from the husks, the companies are also working to improve the lives of coconut farmers by providing more income for farmers by using the husks.

The company has developed a nonwoven process for combining coconut fiber with thermoplastic to create a strong, durable material that can be formed for packaging.

The packaging is primarily used for packaging that goes inside boxes, such as packaged electronics. They are still exploring possibilities for outer packaging.

Zero Waste Week 2009

I recently came across a site for Zero Waste Week, which started on Monday and concludes this Sunday. All week long, people across the world have been making small changes in their lives to eliminate or reduce their amount of waste. By coming together and taking these small steps, we can reduce the amount of waste thrown into the landfills and become more environmentally-responsible.Going-Green-Zero-Waste-Week-Environmentally-Friendly

Last year, they offered prizes and incentives for people who participated, but this year, they wanted to try something different. There are no incentives, because they want people to want to help the environment by reducing the amount of waste generated and sent to the landfills. This way, they hope for people to continue in their efforts long after Zero Waste Week is over, rather than just doing it now for a prize.

You can reduce waste by using durable, reusable packaging or by making sure that it is recyclable and made from recycled materials. We can all work on doing our part to reduce waste and help the environment. Have any ideas to reduce waste even more? Let us know!

Reusable Packaging: The Packaging is the Product

When we think of being “green” and environmentally-friendly, we think of the 3 R’s: reduce, reuse, and recycle.  TreeHugger showed some ways that companies are offering reusable packaging in a new way, in which the packaging is actually a part of the product itself.

With this product, lite2go by knoend, the clear packaging is actually the lampshade for the lamp:

Repurposed Packaging Lampshade

This design, created by Tom Ballhatchet, utilizes the box that the TV is packaged in as a stand for the TV with shelves for your DVD cases or Blu-Ray cases:

Repurposed Packaging TV Stand

With this laptop in a bag, HP won Wal-Mart’s Reduced Packaging Award for its Pavilion dv6929.  Instead of coming in a box with styrofoam inserts, this laptop comes in a reusable messenger bag (made from recycled fabric) with a few plastic bags inside to hold the parts.  With this design, HP was able to reduce the conventional packaging by 97 percent:

Repurposed Packaging Laptop Bag

Steve Haslip designed the HangerPak, so that the packaging that holds the product can also be used for the product; the package transforms into a hanger for the t-shirt inside:

Repurposed Packaging Cardboard Hanger

Although I’m not too keen on the idea of sitting on a cardboard chair, I do give props to David Graas for coming up with a line of flat packaging that can be put together into furniture:

Repurposed Packaging Cardboard Chair

These are all examples of how companies are encouraging customers to reduce waste by reusing the packaging of their products for other purposes.  By doing this and recycling when you are finished, you can be on your way to being more eco-friendly.