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Thinking outside the box: How brands leverage circular packaging to win customers

A changing industry needs to think outside the box

The critical function of packaging is protecting a brand’s products as they are transported to customers, but it plays a much more significant role than that. Packaging is a customer’s first touch point with your products, and it can be a make-or-break opportunity to create brand loyalty.

From an environmental perspective, well-designed packaging can eliminate waste, drive down the weight of your products in transportation, and reduce emissions in a supply chain.

This $1.175 trillion industry is witnessing significant changes, with greater customer and regulatory demands for packaging that meets higher levels of sustainability performance.

That’s because consumers are increasingly aware of the problems with single-use plastics and how they impact the environment. They’re expecting better solutions from companies.

Regulations such as the European Union’s Directive on single-use plastics are also helping to create change and promote the transition to a more circular economy. However, we’re seeing an increasing amount of packaged goods every year, driven by consumer demand and the accelerating growth of the e-commerce industry.

Globally, the e-commerce industry used 2.1 billion pounds of plastic packaging in 2019, and that amount is expected to reach 4.5 billion pounds by 2025.

If the 2025 predictions are accurate, the e-commerce industry alone will generate 202 Eiffel Towers worth of plastic packaging waste. Something has to change.

Unpacking the industry’s environmental impact

36% of the plastic produced globally is used for packaging. Unfortunately, the current linear packaging model means that 85% of that plastic packaging ends up in landfills.

This consumption of plastic packaging creates immense quantities of waste. It’s estimated that packaging waste increased by 19% in the European Union between 2009 and 2019. From an emissions point of view, the European Union’s analysis estimates that the packaging sector could emit 93 million tonnes of CO2e by 2040.

To put things into perspective, that’s almost as much as the current annual emissions of Belgium, the 41st most emitting country in the world.

With increasing online shopping, e-commerce brands must find a way to provide sustainable packaging for their customers.

Companies that win the sustainability turning point with packaging will have the opportunity to improve the customer experience, acquire new customers, and retain existing ones. There are many ways for companies to benefit from this watershed moment in packaging. We might be biased, but at Kvatt, we’re convinced that single-use models are not the solution.

With only 14% of plastic packaging being recycled every year, it’s wishful thinking to believe that single-use plastics will improve the industry’s sustainability performance.

“Recycling our way of the climate crisis will not work.”

Sander Defruyt, Lead of the New Plastics Economy Initiative at the Ellen MacArthur Foundation

As it is versatile, durable, lightweight and low-cost, plastic will likely remain a favoured packaging material. However, there are ways to ensure it is reused multiple times.

Bringing circular thinking to packaging

When we think about reducing the environmental impact of packaging, it comes down to three key areas:

  • Preventing packaging from finding its way into the environment

  • Making packaging more recyclable or using more recycled content

  • Reducing the greenhouse gas emissions of packaging

Due to increasing public and regulatory pressure, companies must find creative solutions to meet these three objectives and reduce packaging waste.

For some, business models that favour the return and reuse of plastic packaging have been the silver bullet solution to reducing waste, cutting costs, and increasing brand loyalty. Reusable packaging is designed to be highly durable and can be recovered, repaired or cleaned if necessary before being used again multiple times.

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation found that such models could reduce the greenhouse gas emissions associated with plastic packaging by up to 69%.

Consumers are increasingly conscious of the environmental impact of their purchases and want to support brands that share their values. Brands implementing reusable packaging solutions can satisfy that demand and educate customers about the sustainability credentials of their packaging.

The packaging can educate customers, with clear instructions and disposal methods highlighted on labels or within the packages.

As providers of reusable packaging, the key to reducing emissions is ensuring that durable materials are used and that the packages undergo many rotations to minimize waste.

Reusable packaging that delights customers. Say Kvatt?

Reusable packaging can reduce plastic waste, provide opportunities for companies to engage their customers, and contribute to the transition to a more circular economy.

At Kvatt, we’re on a mission to create the most sustainable and convenient deliveries for all. That is why the reusable packaging we provide is designed for the circular economy.

Ensuring its durability and making sure it can easily fit within current operational structures ensures the transition to circular models can be seamless for businesses.

Once customers receive their orders in a Kvatt reusable bag, they can use the Kvatt pre-paid label to return the packaging to their nearest post box. Our packaging is designed to be returned and re-enter our partners’ supply chain. But first, we clean them so they can be used over and over again.

Our reusable packaging service comes with “circular touch points”, helping e-commerce brands engage their customers and improve loyalty. The customers of our e-commerce partners can interact with our packaging QR codes to access Kvatt’s return instructions and other benefits.

Kvatt partners with e-commerce brands committed to reducing their environmental impact without compromising on their packaging quality or affecting their operations.

Go Circular with Kvatt and join a community of circular economy leaders. Discover how to make your business circular and transform your packaging into a sustainability asset.

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