Sustainable Packaging Scores Big with Customers

June 1, 2014

Natural packaging is a relatively new development in the environmentally friendly product market. However, consumers are beginning to demand sustainable packaging options in market segments as varied as food, children’s toys and, now, pet products.

At Imperial Cat, the brand’s Scratch ‘n Shapes and Scratch ‘n Pads are made in the USA from 30 percent minimum post-consumer content, recycled paper, and the scratching posts are 100 percent recyclable with cardboards. The brand carried that same eco-friendly commitment to its packaging.

“The graphic labels and packaging are printed with soy-based inks, which we chose because they have a lower impact on the environment than heavy solvent inks,” Kristie Hamilton, director of sales at Imperial Cat, said. “They don’t produce strong chemical fumes during printing, so it keeps the air in our office breathable. They cause less strain on our printing equipment, allowing our printers to last longer, and paper printed with soy inks is easier to de-ink during recycling.”

Rolf C. Hagen launched natural packaging within a line of cat toys.

“We strive to make recyclable, eco-friendly packaging whenever possible, and a perfect example is our 100 percent recycled material packaging in our Catit Eco Toys,” Damian Hall, senior marketing manager, said. “At Rolf C. Hagen, we try to reduce our environmental footprint and support sustainability any time we can. This is very important to our company as a whole. In fact, our global headquarters in Montreal was the very first gold LEED building in Canada, and we’re proud of that. The benefits are simple — we are lessening our impact on the environment, one product at a time.”

According to Hall, Rolf C. Hagen’s customers share the brand’s desire to lessen overall impact on the environment, and they’ve received positive feedback for these products.

At Bark4Green, the “On the Go” Dog Treats bags are made from near carbon neutral material, which is made from 100 percent annually renewable plant resources. The bags are certified compostable to the ASTM D6400 and DIN EN 13432 Standards.

“For every 100 pounds of packaging, we save enough energy to run a 100-watt light bulb for 8 months,” Pamela Zubradt, who co-owns Bark4Green, said. “We chose plant-based packaging because it adds environmental value to our product and gives us energy savings, lowering our carbon footprint. Our bags are made by harvesting plants that are fermented into dextrose. The dextrose is catalyzed into material that is used to make the bags. Products from the manufacturing are then composted in an industrial facility, which is composted and used to grow more plants.”

The brand has seen a direct impact on its business from its packaging choices.

“Our customers are inspired by our responsible packaging, and it’s increased our customer loyalty,” she said. “Using environmentally friendly packaging has had a positive impact on our business. It’s increased our bottom line by giving us energy savings and increasing brand awareness among eco-conscious consumers.”

Package Options

Using recycled or plant-based materials are two clear options for natural packaging. Caru, a natural pet food brand, implemented another option.

“Caru is proud to be the first pet food in North America in a Tetra Pak package,” Adrian Pettyan, co-owner and founder of Caru, said. “These packages are made from 70 percent paper that comes from responsibly managed forests certified by FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) standards. The cartons are lightweight, have a low carbon footprint and are recyclable. The unique packaging process preserves the flavor and nutrients of food without the use of preservatives, allowing for a long shelf life.”

According to Pettyan, some of the benefits of using this type of packaging include that it’s BPA-free, saves 30-40 percent space over round packaging, only uses one-third the amount of packaging materials and half of the energy used by steel cans throughout its lifecycle, and it creates 60 percent less waste even after taking recycling into account.

At Nature’s Miracle, the company that produces stain and odor eliminators, the brand is incorporating eco-friendly materials into its bottles with the new Green Leaf packaging. The new bottles are made of 25 percent post-consumer resin (for example, recycled plastic), and the material is free from volatile organic carbons. After the bottle is empty, the packaging will biodegrade.

Brands with a customer base that seeks out natural products could attract more customers or create additional loyalty by incorporating natural packaging, as Bark4Green experienced.

As consumer demand increases for natural packaging, additional materials are becoming available, from plant-based plastic-like wraps to innovation options like Caru’s Tetra Pak, which will enable manufacturers to find an environmentally friendly packaging material that works with the bottom line.

Maggie Marton

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