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Written by Marijn Overvest | Reviewed by Sjoerd Goedhart | Fact Checked by Ruud Emonds | Our editorial policy

Sustainable Packaging — Everything A Professional should know

Key take-aways

  • Sustainable packaging is composed of recyclable materials designed to reduce its environmental footprint.
  • The use of sustainable designs for packaging can cut costs and motivate consumers to do the same.
  • Companies must achieve sustainability in their procurement processes before implementing sustainable packaging. 

Sustainable packaging is being adopted by many companies as many customers prioritize sustainability when making purchasing decisions nowadays. However, what is the point of having sustainable packaging?

This article will guide you on what sustainability is. We will discuss sustainability in procurement and the meaning of sustainable packaging. Additionally, we are going to explain the need for sustainable packaging and how it helps reduce waste. 

After reading this article, you will have a better understanding of sustainability and sustainable packaging. Thus, it will enable you to attract customers as many of them also check if the company is responsible when making a product and its overall operation. 

Defining Sustainability

The word sustainability is thrown in every discussion that is related to protecting and saving the world. But what does it really mean? Sustainability means meeting our own needs and assuring that the future generation will also meet their needs. 

In its broadest sense, it refers to the ability of entities or institutions to maintain or support processes continuously over time that are concerned with the prevention of the depletion of natural and physical resources. Thus, making them available for the long term. 

Many people think that Sustainability is all about the environment. However, that is far from the truth. Sustainability covers not just the environmental aspect but also the social and economic aspects. 

Although the concept of sustainability is new, its movement is rooted in conservationism, social justice, internationalism, and other past movements with rich histories. 

Sustainability in Procurement

Procurement in sustainability is the process of integrating the three pillars of sustainability in procurement which are the environmental, social, and governmental or economic pillars. 

Of course, for you to create a sustainable product and its packaging, you must first achieve sustainability in your procurement process. Having a sustainable procurement can reduce the environmental, social, and economic impacts on the supply chain. 

When we talk about sustainability in procurement, corporate social responsibility (CSR) is also brought up in the discussion. This is because the CSR of a company is committed to behaving ethically. Thus, contributing to economic development and caring for their workforce and the environment. 


Sustainable packaging is becoming a trend and a high priority for both companies and consumers. However, what is it? Sustainable packaging is a type of eco-friendly material used to store, ship, wrap, or keep a product. 

Additionally, it is made to reduce the environmental footprint of traditional packaging. There are many factors in making eco-friendly packaging. It is not just about the environmental aspect but also the social and economic factors. 

To give you an example, you may think that plant-based packaging may be a good option. However, it might be harmful as there will be a rise in demand for plant-based materials. Thus, many companies decide to clear endangered rainforests just to grow crops. 

You must take note that a label that says “eco-friendly” does not mean that it is sustainable. Consequently, labeling something as sustainable does not mean that its process is ethical.

What is it Made of? 

Sustainable packaging includes recyclable materials, such as polyethylene terephthalate (PET) or high-density polyethylene (HDPE) plastics, cardboard, and paper wrappings. 

The materials, once sorted in their respective categories for recycling, can be pulped, shredded, or melted down and remolded to make raw materials for new packaging or other uses. 

However, while cardboard retains the quality of its properties, plastics degrade each time their polymer chains are broken or melted down and can only be recycled so many times before they are incinerated or sent to landfills. 

Sustainable Design in Packaging: What is it?

Sustainable design is making the design of the product packaging with the main objective of doing little to no harm to the environment. 

Sustainable design can be achieved by using recyclable materials. Also, you can do this by designing your packaging with another purpose in mind like cutting costs. 

Sustainable design is important if you want to make your packaging sustainable. It reduced the product’s environmental footprint. Thus, helping the producers and the consumers to reduce theirs. 

The Need For Sustainable Packaging

With all the things that are happening in the world that can harm the three pillars of sustainability, it is obvious why many aim to have sustainable packaging for their products. 

The usage of plastics and non-recyclable or biodegradable materials in packaging has led it to be painted in a negative light by many consumers. 

When consumers receive their product, they want to ensure that it is packaged responsibly by using materials that are non-toxic, biodegradable, or recyclable nowadays. This is because consumers are now seeing the importance of conserving our planet. 

As these issues are increasingly significant for your consumers, they should also be important to your brand and business. Failing to address these issues will lose you your business. 

Helping to Reduce Waste

For some, replacing traditional packages with sustainable packages is an easy switch. However, for others — especially in the food industry — packaging is not just an eco-problem. 

All the plastics, wrappers, foils, and containers dumped in the landfills are food-contaminated which means it is not recyclable.  It is simply dumped layer upon layer in the landfill where it stays forever. Thus, causing harm to the environment. 

For institutions to reduce this dangerous waste, practice smart business, and heal the world, conserve the environment, the shift to sustainable packaging is a must and a great place to start is now. 

In order to keep food waste low and protect the environment, companies are creating innovative materials that can safely pack food without any harmful consequences when consumers dispose of it.


Sustainability isn’t just about protecting and saving the world. It means meeting our own needs while also reassuring the future generation that they will also be meeting their own needs.

So, having sustainability present in procurement means that the environmental, social, and economic impacts on the supply chain will be reduced.

Moreover, to continue the sustainability movement, businesses opt for sustainable packaging as well. It includes recyclable materials that can be remolded to make raw materials for new packaging or other uses. Thus, it reduces waste but also saves costs.

Frequentlyasked questions

What is sustainable packaging?

It is a type of eco-friendly material used for wrapping or storing to protect a product.

What is sustainability?

Sustainability refers to the protection of the planet through its three pillars which are the environmental, social, and governmental pillars.

Why is it important to have sustainable packaging nowadays?

It is important as the number of customers who are concerned about conserving the planet increases.

About the author

My name is Marijn Overvest, I’m the founder of Procurement Tactics. I have a deep passion for procurement, and I’ve upskilled over 200 procurement teams from all over the world. When I’m not working, I love running and cycling.

Marijn Overvest Procurement Tactics