14 Feb

What is a Sustainable Swap in Packaging?

Type ‘sustainable swaps’ into Google and over 7 million results are returned in less than half a second. Every day, another sustainable swap is ingrained into another nook or cranny of daily life. From seasonal campaigns, like Veganuary, where people are encouraged to use January to try out a plant-based diet, to ongoing initiatives, like using reusable food wraps rather than plastic films to pack your lunch, sustainable swaps are everywhere.

They’re also generally well-received and adopted by the public as well as businesses. So, it’s only right that we should be looking at how we can make them rife in our packaging, too, for a more sustainable manufacturing sector.

Read on to explore the sustainable packaging swaps on offer now, and what we think we’ll be seeing in the future!

What is Meant by ‘Sustainable Swap’?

The term ‘sustainable swap’ describes the eco-friendlier alternatives you can switch current items or practices for. One of the most prominent examples of a sustainable swap in action is the type of bag we carry our supermarket shopping in. It’s been nearly a decade since the plastic carrier bag charge was introduced, something we bet you hardly bat an eyelid at now!

Swapping single-use bags for ‘bags for life’ has made a huge environmental impact, not to mention how well it’s continuing to stand the test of time. In 2014, the year before the charge was introduced, UK supermarkets gave out over 7.6 billion single-use carrier bags to customers. Fast-forward to the year 2019-20, and that number was down to ‘just’ 564 million.

It’s not just the stats that speak for themselves – it’s the influence the change has had on our shopping habits. We bet we’re not the only ones with a preferred bag for life, be it because of its jazzy aesthetic, practical design, or nifty pocket-size that makes it easy to carry around!

How is Packaging Becoming More Sustainable?

Could as impactful a swap happen within packaging? It’s certainly a high benchmark, but we all need a little aspiration! As sustainability becomes more of a focal point for businesses and consumers, there’s less of a barrier when it comes to the introduction or adoption of similar swaps.

Indeed, the majority of respondents in McKinsey and Co.’s Sustainability in packaging report 2023 claim to be ‘willing to pay for more sustainable packaging’. Though willingness to pay more for packaging is ‘much higher in developing nations’, the former majority was across all surveyed countries. And with the scheduled introduction of the EPR getting closer (October 2025), taking the time now to understand the types of sustainable swaps that’ll align with new regulations and changing consumer expectations stands you in good stead for the future!

Where to Start with Sustainable Packaging

To achieve more sustainable packaging manufacturing, all processes across the cycle need reviewing and improving. From switching to renewable materials sources to using ‘greener’ energy to power manufacturing machinery and factories, sustainable swaps can be made across the entire supply chain.

Like with anything, the first step always feels the hardest. But once you’ve taken it, the rest become as subconscious as turning off a light when you leave a room! Which brings us onto the impact of sustainable swaps. Whilst we all want to be making the greatest and most positive impacts on the planet, there’s value in any type of swap, big or small.

What Types of Sustainable Swaps Exist in Packaging?

First up, the material you use for your packaging! Our boxes are made from recycled corrugated cardboard that can be recycled or reused itself. Whilst the box itself is contributing towards a more circular packaging economy, there’s a caveat to the ‘recyclable’ tag that many people overlook.

Corrugated cardboard is only as recyclable as the materials stuck, painted, or printed onto it. The cardboard itself is fully recyclable, but the plastic tape that’s often used to seal folded flaps or the glues used to stick printed labels to its exterior don’t tend to be. That’ll make you reconsider throwing the packaging of your next online order in the green bin!

But there is a solution. And it’s one of those simpler, smaller swaps we’ve spoken about. Switch from less eco-friendly packaging ancillaries, like brown parcel tape and solvent glues, to more eco-friendly alternatives. For instance, solvent-free eco tape or Kraft tape that boasts strength. Both can be recycled, so that’s one barrier overcome. Here’s a couple more:

  1. Don’t like change? Clear eco tape is your new best friend! When applied, the tape is transparent by nature, so it looks almost identical to traditional tape – only without the non-recyclable trait!
  2. Ready to make the seals on your packaging stand out? It’s time to meet Kraft tape, the tape that can be printed with a bespoke design of your choice! From your brand logo to a witty message to instructive labels like ‘this way up’, Kraft tape catches the eye and increases brand memorability. Yet doesn’t harm the planet.

What Could the Future of Sustainable Packaging Look Like?

The ‘bad’ news is that there’s too many sustainable swaps that could improve the sustainability of your beauty boxes or FMCG packaging to include in a single blog. But the good news is that our people are just a call or email away to talk through the growing number of options available to you! Get in touch.

As for the types of sustainable packaging we’ll be talking to you about in a year, two years’, or even five years’ time, who knows how far we’ll have progressed? But one thing’s for sure: the packaging manufacturing scene remains an evolving and innovative place to be. And at Greyhound Box, we’re proud to be playing our part.

Get in touch

Discuss your requirements

If you have any packaging requirements or a project you would like to discuss with us, please send us a message. We would love to hear from you.