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Innovative Technologies and Materials That Improve Packaging Sustainability

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A global growing awareness of the need to adopt sustainable practices across industries as a solution to environmental concerns and a reduction of the carbon footprint has revolutionized many aspects of business. The packaging industry has also been included in the challenge due to its significant impact on waste generation and resource consumption. This is one of the most crucial reasons for the emergence of innovative technologies and materials that improve packaging sustainability.

Can Packaging Be Smart?

The fact paced technological advancement has led to the appearance of smart packaging, and nobody should be surprised we may call them this. It’s nothing else than a merge of Internet of Things (IoT) sensors and data analytics used to manage traditional packaging. The process enables real-time monitoring of various aspects of the product, such as temperature, humidity, and freshness. 

The constant tracking of the parameters leads to the optimization of supply chains, minimizing spoilage, and the reduction of the need for excessive packaging. The analytics based on IoT offers valuable insights into consumer behavior, allowing companies to tailor their packaging to meet specific demands and reduce unnecessary waste.

The best solution to provide sustainable packaging is to use automated packaging systems, which allow for a perfect fit and a great decrease in labor costs and the time necessary for packing a single item, leading to a reduction in carbon footprint. 

What Is Sustainable Packaging? 

One of the greatest challenges in the search for sustainable packaging is the adoption of eco-friendly materials. There is a great range of renewable resources that can be successfully used for packaging production, for example, bioplastic produced from cornstarch, sugarcane, or algae. They state a great alternative to traditional petroleum-based plastics, which decay for hundreds of years. 

On the contrary, these bioplastics are biodegradable and compostable, reducing their impact on landfills and oceans. It’s also worth mentioning paper-based laminates and edible packaging, as greener and more sustainable alternatives to conventional packaging.

Automated Packaging Systems

To achieve great efficiency and sustainability in the whole packaging process, engineers have developed automated packaging systems that make the whole process smart with minimum waste production.

Automation of packaging has a wide range of advantages, as by precisely measuring each product or order, the specially designed machines are able to pack them into perfectly fitted packaging. It’s not only extra protection for the product, which is unable to move inside the parcel but also gets rid of the issue of sending air together with the products, packed into too big containers.

The use of automated packaging systems can greatly reduce the time required to pack each order, leading to a decrease in labor costs, energy consumption and consequently greenhouse gas emissions. 

3D Printing as the Future of Sustainable Packaging

The emergence of 3D printing technology has opened up new possibilities for sustainability in various industries, packaging design being one of them. 3D printing allows companies to create custom packaging solutions that perfectly fit their products, minimizing the need for excessive filler materials. 

Moreover, additive manufacturing can utilize biodegradable and recyclable materials, reducing waste and the consumption of natural resources. By embracing 3D printing, the packaging industry can move towards a more circular economy, where materials are continuously recycled and repurposed rather than treated as waste any time the parcel arrives at the receiver’s home.

Innovative Packaging Which Extends Product Life

Innovative packaging designs play a crucial role in extending the shelf life of products and reducing food waste. It may be difficult to understand at first, yet it’s enough to mention active packaging, which incorporates elements like oxygen absorbers and ethylene scavengers, greatly influencing freshness and quality.

Vacuum packaging is not a new solution, so most likely almost everyone is aware of how much it helps prolong product life, and together with modified atmosphere packaging, it can keep the food fresh for much longer. It’s not enough yet, but as the innovative packaging is combined with intelligent packaging labels, we can safely enjoy fresh food for longer.

Challenges to the Adoption of Sustainable Technologies 

Although we may be aware of the undoubtful advantages of sustainable packaging materials, there are several challenges to consider. Eco-friendly alternatives are often more expensive than conventional materials, and together with the step forward adoption of automated packaging systems, companies need to be prepared for a bigger investment at first. 

There is a great role of companies, governments, research institutes, and consumers, who, if stand together, can greatly modify the packaging industry, into sustainable and eco-friendly. Only the cooperation of all of them can lead to the significant change of the packaging industry into sustainable and eco-friendly. 

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