Everything comes under consideration during changing times like these; even packaging. A growing topic among sustainably-minded types, packaging has an effect on a company’s at-risk profit, customer satisfaction, and the environment. It now also carries plausible cause for concern. Below are three things to keep in mind when considering the type of packaging material you use in today’s world.
1. Not all shipping material is equal when it comes to containing a virus.
The recent outbreak of COVID-19 raised awareness about everything handled. Questions quickly surfaced about how long a virus could survive in the surrounding environment. According to a recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers “found a viable virus could be detected in aerosols up to three hours post aerosolization, up to four hours on copper, up to 24 hours on cardboard, and up to two to three days on plastic and stainless steel. Choosing a material such as corrugated cardboard and eliminating the use of the plastics can greatly reduce the risk of transmitting infection.
2. The material and method you choose affect more than just your customers.
As countries continue to enforce stay-at-home and shelter-in-place orders, online shopping is expanding at an immense rate. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the risk of contracting a virus through the mail is still relatively low, but not zero. By selecting a cardboard box versus a plastic envelope, you are not only limiting risk for your customers but also thousands of mail and delivery handlers.What about the packaging employees use in your own facility? How many times are they touching a box or plastic mailer as it moves through the picking and packing process? Unprecedented times may call for a comprehensive review of your operation’s packaging methods. Automated packaging solutions can help minimize human touches, decreasing the risk for transmission of germs as well as increasing overall productivity.
3. Sustainability is still achievable in today’s environment.
Single-use plastics thrive in a global pandemic situation such as COVID-19, but what happens when we are left with all that plastic waste? Are single-use plastics really safer? According to the study mentioned above, we know that COVID-19 specifically can live longer on plastic materials. We’ve already seen a multitude of stories from around the world on the pandemic’s somewhat fortunate effect on the environment and climate change. By eliminating plastics we can move more toward a circular economy and continue an influence on positive impacts, such as improved air quality noticeable across city skylines worldwide.
Packaging departments can actively choose a more sustainable future by switching to recyclable materials and taking steps to right-size shipping boxes. By removing the air in the box, customers reduce the carton size, often by 40% or more. This translates to 60% less void fill, a 26% reduction in corrugated, and the reduction of 25 tonnes of CO2 for every 1 million square feet of corrugated saved.
Change has an interesting way of affecting people and the environment. It is possible that the current pandemic can bring about needed change and a united cause that joins together a greater community in support of Smart Packaging for a Healthy(-ier) Planet®.