Sustainable Packaging | The Future of Corporate Environmental Responsibility

Pollution caused by excess plastics and other non-biodegradable, or non-recyclable materials is becoming a huge problem for our planet, and it will continue to get worse if no action is taken. This concerning fact has many people worried but it has also motivated many people to act. Many business owners also want to take action to reduce waste, and some of them are now taking a different approach to packaging and shipping products. Instead of using harmful materials like plastic, they are finding new materials that will get the job done while being safe for the planet. Business owners who take the eco-friendly packaging route usually care about reducing pollution and waste, but there are other reasons why an increasing number choose to take this type of approach.

A Case for Green Corporate Social Responsibility

Another reason eco-friendly/sustainable packaging is important and smart for modern businesses is because it can help to reduce a company’s overall carbon footprint. Companies also care about their public image and appearance; public perception of a product can make or break a business. The amount of environmentally conscious consumers is growing increasingly each year. These types of consumers often feel better about purchasing products that are eco-friendly, and many are willing to spend more money to obtain goods made from environmentally safe materials. Consumers also enjoy items that are easy to recycle or dispose of, and eco-friendly packaging meets those criteria. Businesses can show corporate social responsibility with eco-friendly packaging because they are actively working to reduce waste each time they package something in sustainable and recyclable material. When a business has a strong public image, it is much more difficult for them to be exposed publicly as damaging the environment, generating excessive waste, or polluting. All of this is something that can be a serious detriment to or even permanently destroy a company. Many business owners strive for safe/clean business practices, so why should the packaging and shipping of their products be any different? Apart from developing a positive brand image, adopting the use of sustainable/eco-friendly packaging can cut company costs in many cases. Using sustainable packaging can reduce shipping costs in several different ways. Lighter materials are used for packaging and shipping which allows companies to pay a cheaper shipping cost. Sustainable packaging also aims to prevent extra waste and make packaging more functional which results in smaller, thinner packaging. When you have packaging that takes up less space you can load more of products onto shipping containers and make a larger profit when they reach their destination. Across the world countries are acting against pollution. Some are passing legislation which forces companies to adopt new, safer forms of packaging to cut down on packaging waste. Other countries are putting heavy tariffs on products that are packaged and/or shipped in plastics or other harmful materials. Either way, it is becoming more common for companies to be penalized for using non-sustainable or non-eco-friendly packaging. Sustainable packaging is important for businesses, it is the future of packaging, and it puts companies ahead of the curve. It can help reduce global pollution, build strong brand image, cut company costs, and allow for easier global distribution.

My Part in The Future of Sustainable Packaging and Corporate Environmental Responsibility

As an avid angler with a love for the outdoors I have spent much of my childhood fishing and enjoying the Chesapeake Bay and the many waterways that are part of the Chesapeake Bay watershed. I have seen firsthand how agricultural runoff, plastics, trash, and other pollutants are causing negative changes to the water and aquatic species in this area. I also live near Norfolk, Virginia which is one of the largest ports in the country and see the amount of cargo ships, and containers that pass through the port. The packaging of products and moving of consumer goods is big business! I wanted to combine my love of the outdoors, my concern for the environmental impact that plastics and non-recyclable materials have on the environment, and my hands-on nature into a potential career. I will be starting my freshman year at Virginia Tech in a few weeks and plan on studying Packaging Systems and Design which is part of the Sustainable Biomaterials program in the College of Natural Resources and Environment. This major is focused on how sustainable materials can be used to design packaging that can reduce the environmental footprint of packages while still being marketable and appealing to customers. I will also be learning about how this packaging can effectively protect goods as they move through the supply chain to their destinations in the most cost-effective and environmentally-friendly ways. I look forward to working with companies firsthand to build what I feel is the future of corporate environmental responsibility.

Essay by: Andrew James Hucke
Virginia Tech

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