Make The Sustainable Switch This Earth Day

by Megan Arnold April 22, 2021

The power that packaging has to influence a consumer’s buying decision goes way beyond just the graphics on the box. It goes right into the very material that makes up that box. That’s why, this Earth Day, we’re looking at eco-friendly packaging options and how Tap Packaging can help you achieve them.

Sustainability image showing a tree in the center with green arrows going around the tree in a circle

So, why the focus on sustainability to begin with? For starters, it’s a big topic of conversation for the new generation of buyers. According to Nielsen, 73% of millennials in 2015 were willing to pay more for sustainable goods. Three years later, 85% of millennials and 80% of Gen Z listed the environment as a top priority when it comes to the companies they choose to engage with. The Institute of Business Ethics further supported this claim in 2020, saying that “environmental responsibility” still ranked in the top three issues for most people.

Still need more reasons to focus on the environmental impact of your packaging? A survey led by Ranpak and Harris Research found that 78% of Americans wished more brands used paper packaging instead of plastic. On top of that, 68% would be more willing to purchase from brands and online retailers with plastic-free packaging options offered at checkout. Looking at all those statistics, that’s a large chunk of the consumer market focused on issues related to sustainability.

Now it gets to the hard part. What changes can your brand make to start lowering your impact on the planet?

Eco-Friendly Packaging Materials

When it comes to your packaging, the easiest switch you can make is to choose material that’s fully recyclable. Most paperboard packaging already fits this category. In fact, Tap Packaging offers a full range of stock confection packaging made from sustainable and recyclable material (excluding items with plastic window film).

Four kraft custom boxes designed to hold Hiker's Brew coffee

But, to really commit to your new sustainable ways, you should opt for material that’s made from post-consumer waste. The higher the percentage, the better. Tap Packaging works with a wide range of suppliers who can provide eco-friendly substrates with post-consumer recycled content ranging from 30% all the way up to 100%. Using paperboard with that much post-consumer waste means a much smaller impact on landfills.

You can also get pickier by choosing materials manufactured with less raw material, which means less waste without compromising strength. Another option would be to pick a substrate made from alternative sources. With our wide network of suppliers, we can offer everything from material made from 100% virgin, uncoated, and unbleached kraft fibers to material made from things like hemp.

The Sustainable Printing Process

Now that you have your material chosen, you want to make sure you aren’t adding things to your packaging that will reduce your packaging’s recyclability or create a greater environmental impact than you want.

straight on shot showing the HP Indigo 30000 Digital Printer

For starters, let talk about inks. Most inks emit VOCs (volatile organic compounds) during the manufacturing and drying process, so you want to make sure you’re choosing options with low to no VOC emissions. At Tap, we use primarily conventional inks which give off little to no VOC emissions. We also offer UV inks which can have a lower environmental impact as they are instantly cured.

Another thing to consider is simply how much color is in your design. If you can, try to use fewer ink colors (4 color instead of 7-color printing) or opt for spot color when you can. Go for an elevated, minimal design that reduces ink coverage or choose an interesting specialty substrate that you can pair with an eye-catching foil stamp.

But it’s not all about the inks. Tap also offers a wide range of printing technologies so you can find one that best suits your project and your sustainability standards. Choose offset printing for low-VOC inks or opt for digital printing which eliminates the chemicals associated with plate making.

And don’t forget the finishing services! If you want finishing touches that won’t affect how your packaging is recycled, go for things like embossing or foil stamping. You could even add a UV or aqueous coating, both of which are provided by Tap. Both coatings are considered environmentally friendly, releasing low VOC.

The Tap Difference

Here’s the last step of the sustainable packaging puzzle. Beyond the materials and the printing technologies, you want to make sure you’re working with a company that’s doing their part too. At Tap, we understand our responsibility to the environment and are committed to supplying green, innovative, and sustainable paperboard packaging products. We use recycled and recyclable paperboard material whenever possible, we recycle over 600 tons of material annually, and we utilize green or energy efficient equipment like the HP Indigo 30000 Digital Press. Plus, we are proudly Forest Stewardship Council certified by the Rainforest Alliance, which means our materials come from responsibly and sustainably managed forests.

Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of what sustainability truly means when it comes to packaging and how you can do your part to help protect the environment and the planet. If you’re interested in working with Tap Packaging for your next sustainable product packaging, request a quote below!

Megan Arnold
Megan Arnold