The Role Of Brand Packaging In Environmental Sustainability

The Role Of Brand Packaging In Environmental Sustainability

Environmental sustainability becomes more of a priority for consumers with each passing day. Protecting the environment isn’t just the right thing to do, but it’s also a key component of connecting with new potential customers in 2021. The benefits of sustainable packaging for consumer brands are numerous, and many popular brands have high-profile sustainability initiatives. But how exactly do consumer brands benefit from environmental sustainability?

Top Packaged Goods Producers: Committed to Sustainability

If you take a look at the top 25 biggest producers of packaged goods for consumers today, you’ll find that all 25 of them have already pledged to use more recyclable packaging and to reduce the total amount of packaging used. In addition, 20 of these companies are on their way toward producing products with 100% recyclable containers and packages. Clearly, big brands understand the ever-growing importance of environmentally responsible brand packaging.

These brands are already benefiting from environmentally sustainable brand packages because consumer attitudes overwhelmingly support these initiatives. Nearly 50% of consumers surveyed in a recent study said that environmental sustainability is significantly more important to them today than it was just one year ago. Ethics-based purchasing is also on the rise, as roughly 80% of those same consumers say they have made at least one purchase in the last 12 months due to their values.

Sustainable Packaging Matters to Consumers

As we dig deeper into similar studies, we can see just how important this issue is to your average consumer today. About two-thirds of all consumers say that they are willing to pay higher prices for products sold in sustainable packaging. Meanwhile, more than half of respondents said they would buy more sustainably packaged products if there was no pricing gap between them and other options. Finally, more than one-third said that availability is the main thing holding them back from buying more sustainable goods.

As with any major consumer trend, the brands that adopted sustainable packaging first are the ones that have experienced the most benefits. Brands that have always prioritized eco-friendly practices are consistently recognized for this attribute, while brands that wait too long to follow the trend can be seen as coattail riders, rather than as brands making a real difference.

Sustainable Packaging Superstars: Burt’s Bees, Toms and Patagonia

For instance, when researchers asked consumers which brands make the most positive impact on our environment, the top three answers were Burt’s Bees, Toms, and Patagonia, in that order — three brands that have highlighted sustainable brand packages for decades, long before consumer attitudes shifted. Due to being early adopters, these brands have stuck in consumers’ minds as companies that care about the environment.

Burt’s Bees

What specific changes have these companies made? Let’s take a look at Burt’s Bees. This company has sold exclusively natural products for decades, but its dedication to sustainability goes beyond the products themselves. Sustainability is such a core component of Burt’s Bees that their eco-friendly containers could be termed “brand identity packages.” More than one-third of all Burt’s Bees brand packaging is made with post-consumer resin (PCR), while their plastic bottles average a whopping 71% PCR content. Overall, nearly 90% of the company’s packaging is recyclable.


Patagonia is another interesting case study. This company surveyed its customers and discovered that just 22% of them thought Patagonia’s packaging was environmentally responsible, largely due to the plastic bags the company uses to package its garments before shipping. These bags are technically recyclable, but not in most curbside recycling programs — consumers would need to take them to a plastic film recycling center, such as those found in grocery stores. This extra step is often a prohibitive hassle for consumers, who typically opt to simply throw the bag away instead of recycling it.

As a result, Patagonia ran several tests in one of its shipping centers to see if it could alter its packaging without sacrificing its integrity. They ended up trying paper bags instead of plastic polybags, which gave them a respectable 14% boost in customer satisfaction rates. This study inspired Patagonia to make other sustainability-boosting changes as well. For instance, they found that simply folding their goods into smaller shapes before shipping enabled them to reduce the plastic usage per product by almost 50%.


As for Toms, this brand is already well-known for its sustainable packaging, but they’re not ready to rest on their laurels yet. Toms has a new five-year commitment to “expanding our sustainable practices” that includes several intriguing initiatives. For example, Toms has now pledged to use 100% sustainably sourced cotton by 2025 and increase the recycled content used in its brand packages to at least 80% of each package.

Toms has also committed to measuring its carbon footprint each year and improving it in the next year, a lofty goal that challenges the company to continuously improve its environmental measures. In addition, Toms will expand its “earthwise” program to incorporate more eco-friendly materials and processes when manufacturing its shoes. The brand is also pledging to improve its B Corp environmental score by minimizing waste, reducing energy usage, and conceptualizing and implementing an “end-of-use” recycling program for worn-out shoes.

These three brands are at the forefront of sustainable packaging for a reason. Not only do they have well-deserved reputations for sustainability already, but they also each have their programs in place to improve their already eco-friendly operations. This is how these brands have cultivated and maintained such high consumer favorability scores regarding environmental issues.

Increase Sustainability In Your Brand Packaging

Are you looking to increase sustainability in your brand packaging, but you’re not quite sure how to go about it? Contact one of our representatives today! Our highly knowledgeable team members will be happy to discuss your packaging needs with you and help you find the perfect packages in our extensive product inventory.

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