There is an overwhelming amount of reasons that companies should adopt more environmentally friendly packaging. Other than the obvious reasons such as global warming, trash / landfill accumulation, and the overall detriment to our planet, there are many ethical and social reasons companies need to adopt more environmentally friendly packaging.
I am currently a junior studying electrical engineering with a focus in energy in power systems with a minor in sustainability. I have now accumulated over two years of experience working in the energy sphere. I have been a NASA intern in the photovoltaics department, worked at a lab researching more sustainable ways to create solar cells, and worked on developing a solar panel for the Shonto Indian Reservation. I understand the implications of energy and the importance of energy.
When thinking of environmentally friendly packaging, it is important to acknowledge the material the packaging is made of and think in terms of a circular economy. I believe the most important part of the packaging creation process is the amount of energy utilized throughout the process. Companies need to start addressing energy consumption and fossil fuel release within their sustainability plans. It is paramount to account for the energy consumption of robotic assembly lines, factory lights, and transportation of the products. Companies that are manufacturing new packaging with a goal for sustainability should be working towards using renewables as their power sources. This ensures that the companies are looking at the full life cycle of a product and value clean energy.
Creating the packaging of products can consume a large amount of energy which can negatively affect communities. According to the EPA, the United States’ greenhouse emissions is made up of 27% electricity and 22% industry (“Sources of Greenhouse Gas Emissions”). The greenhouse gas emissions not only lead to physical turmoil such as ocean pollution, sea level rising, and warmer temperatures but it subsequently affects third world countries, and lower income communities. Majora Carter gives a TEDTalk that discusses the implications of companies placing factories and other polluting elements within lower income areas (Carter). This leads to many blue-collar workers, that may not have working benefits, to get sick through breathing polluted air. The disregard for people’s health due to product manufacturing can be devasting. Companies should move towards green manufacturing in order to better the Earth which will also better people’s health. The Respiratory Health Association states, “More than 137 Million Americans live in communities with unhealthy level of air pollution” (“Understanding Air Pollution”). It is easy for us to understand the direct environmental impacts of not developing sustainable packaging, but it is often overlooked how it can affect disadvantage communities and continue the disparity between their communities and others. I believe greatly in working towards sustainable energy development within companies to help these disadvantaged communities.
The burning of fossil fuels due to packaging creation does not only affect people living in the United States but has a large impact on third world countries. Companies need to adopt more environmentally friendly packaging practices to better life quality of people on the Earth.
Essay by: Nicole Swatton
Arizona State University