Sustainability refers to the balance between environmental, social and economic factors. These aspects also apply to the packaging industry in general, and packaging material in particular. Packaging made from paper and paperboard is considered a sustainable material: since it is made from renewable resources, it is easy to recycle.
However, the sustainability of the material itself is not the only aspect to consider. Packaging has an important role to play in terms of product protection, waste reduction and resource conservation.
Today, outer packaging is primarily considered a commodity which simply needs to protect its content during transport. However, in the face of growing demands from the e-commerce market, which is estimated to reach 4.88 trillion U.S. dollars by 2021, food producers need to develop an understanding of sustainability that goes beyond energy use and product waste.
To help optimize your food production, take a look at the following three key sustainability factors for secondary packaging solutions.
1. The cost of materials
The first consideration relates to financial sustainability, i.e. cost savings and resource efficiency, by looking at the material price itself. Greener packaging materials, like paper and paperboard, are generally cheaper compared to conventional plastics, partly due to raw material prices, but also processing, finishing, printing, and waste management. For example, using paper can help minimize harmful waste products and toxic by-products. On top of that, EU member states apply disposal and containment fees that are reduced or eliminated when you switch to sustainable alternatives. Simplifying your packaging can generate long-term cost savings as it is easier to produce.
2. Designed to fit
Transport costs are another element to consider. They can be reduced by using sustainable secondary packaging material to help decrease package size and enable you to ship more products. When trying to maximize space during shipping and efficiently using the available space, food producers need to design their secondary packaging efficiently and stack more boxes on each pallet or container. This is especially important for e-commerce applications. Offering intelligent solutions that optimize the use of corrugated material means using the correct box size for each individual delivery. According to Olivier Cottard, DS Smith Packaging’s head of industries business units, by shaving 5 millimetres off a standard secondary pack in one year we took twenty trucks off the road, reduced our carbon emissions by 100 tonnes and generated huge cost savings. Our emission reductions are equal to the amount of carbon absorbed by 2,500 coniferous tree seedlings in 10 years. 
3. Customer loyalty
Last, but not least, using sustainable packaging materials can increase your sales and customer loyalty. Modern consumers, especially millennials or Generation Y, are focused on buying organic, locally produced products, packed in environmentally-friendly packaging. They feel very strongly about preventing material waste and prefer biodegradable or recyclable packaging materials. In fact, according to a global retail analysis conducted by Nielsen, 55 percent of online consumers from 60 countries are willing to pay more for brands that are committed to positive social and environmental change. The study compared the sales figures for twenty brands in nine countries and came to the conclusion that brands that make sustainability claims on their packaging reported a sales increase of two to five percent. “More than half of the respondents made their purchasing decisions based on packaging, which means they checked the labelling first to ensure the brand is committed to socially responsible projects”, explained Amy Fenton, global leader of public development and sustainability at Nielsen. 
Solution that everyone needs
Basing business decisions on sustainability concerns certainly pays off for secondary packaging, benefitting production and logistics. To answer the above demands, Bosch is continuously optimizing its secondary packaging machines to handle different cartons and carton boards, including both raw and recycled materials. For example, more and more ready meal producers are using ‘wraparound’ style carton board sleeves, some with shaped designs and viewing panels. This not only enables the consumer to view the product itself, but also represents a growing commitment to reducing packaging material – now regarded as key requirements both by the supermarkets and aware customers. By choosing the right secondary packaging system, manufacturer can benefit from the flexibility to produce the most convenient packaging solutions in terms of material use, pack format and style, as well as logistics.
For more information, please visit www.bosch-cartoning-casepacking.com or contact:
Product manager, secondary packaging
Phone: +41 58 674-8928
 Worldwide retail e-commerce sales 2014-2021, Statista, https://www.statista.com/statistics/379046/worldwide-retail-e-commerce-sales/
 How Green Manufacturing Sustainability Reduces Costs. Improves Efficiencies, NJMEP 2016, https://www.njmep.org/blog/how-green-manufacturing-sustainability-reduces-costs-improves-efficiencies/
 The benefits of packaging in an increasingly waste-conscious world, DS Smith, https://www.dssmith.com/company/newsroom/2018/2/the-benefits-of-packaging-in-an-increasingly-waste-conscious-world
 Global consumers are willing to put their money where their heart is when it comes to goods and services from companies committed to social responsibility, Nielsen 2014, http://www.nielsen.com/content/corporate/us/en/press-room/2014/global-consumers-are-willing-to-put-their-money-where-their-heart-is.html