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More people are taking their environmental impact into consideration when buying. The eco-shopper is well and truly on the rise and retailers are taking notice. It’s a costly investment in terms of budget and resources, especially for smaller, independent retailers – there’s already enough to think about, isn’t there? 

If you’re looking to make some changes, then packaging is a great place to start. You can make simple changes that will undoubtedly delight your customers while curbing your environmental impact. Let’s take a look at some simple, sustainable packaging ideas…

Go plastic-free 

By now, we’ve all seen the effects of plastic waste, especially to our oceans. It’s not ideal and people are becoming more averse to it; whether that’s single-use plastic like drinks bottles, straws, or packing. Swapping out unsustainable plastic packaging for recycled and recyclable plastics or – even better – recycled paper is a great start. From corrugated card, shredded paper strips or, carefully constructed place holders, there are loads of creative ways to make the switch. Keep in mind how your branding may translate onto different materials however and make any adjustments you may need to make part of the process. 

Think about sizing 

Not getting sizing right for your packaging is not only wasteful for the environment but a drain on your finances, too. Why wrap a book in bubble wrap? Why send a nail polish in a box big enough for a microwave? Well, on paper, you wouldn’t, but this is an all too common occurrence for some! It’s not good for the environment, but also not good for customer experience. Make sure your packaging is the right size for what you’re sending to eliminate waste and save money.

Eliminate plastic bags in-store

It’s been a few years since the plastic bag charges came into effect in the UK and evidence was clear that shortly after, there was a drop in plastic bags in Britain’s seas. Positive news reported a 30% reduction in a short time following the charge coming into effect. Opting for reusable, or paper bags in-store is a great way to cut down on plastic. John Lewis recently announced they’re stopping selling 5p plastic bags in a new initiative. You can even consider incentivising this for customers by offering discounts or money off future purchases for using their own reusable bags.

Get creative with upcycling 

A fun way to reuse packaging is to upcycle. Aligning this to your brand is a really great way to strengthen brand identity as well as doing good for the environment. Sell books? You can create a ‘make your own’ bookmark out of the packaging. Sell stationary? Use tubes for packaging that can be upcycled into pen pots. Lush offer fabric wraps to stand in for wrapping paper for gifting. The possibilities are endless so if this interests you, get creative and have fun with it.

Incentivise or educate on recycling

Include clear instructions on how your packaging can be recycled by customers at home after purchase. This prompt will help people make greener choices while strengthening your brand positioning on environmental concerns.  

Some retailers offer incentives for customers recycling goods with them. With brands like Body Shop and Lush, customers can return bottles and packaging to the stores for recycling. H&M incentivise clothing recycling by offering £5 vouchers to spend in store for each bag of clothing brought in for recycling. 

Of course, smaller retailers won’t have the resources like these to deal with customer recycling at scale. Setting up a small recycling deposit bin in-store could be a suitable resolution to this that is bound to delight your customers. 

Soon to launch in the UK, Loop is an eCommerce service that helps eliminate waste with refillable containers. This is a really effective method of recycling. Tesco is working with Loop from March allowing customers to send products back to Loop via pick up from their home once used. The company then clean and reuse the items for future purchases. 

 

We hope that these ideas are a great starting point for smaller retailers looking to take small steps into sustainability. You don’t have to implement all of them, but find which fits best and is most cost-effective for your company to try out. Any other ideas are more than welcome! Let us know if you have any in the comments below! 

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Charlotte McKee
2nd March 2020

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