We only have one Earth to occupy and it is time that we start recognizing that we need to take care of it. Big corporations produce the largest carbon footprint compared to alternate industries, processes, and individual consumption. One way to reduce a corporation’s carbon footprint would be to implement more environmentally friendly packaging. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, “containers and packaging make up a major portion of municipal solid waste (MSW), amounting to 82.2 million tons of generation in 2018 (28.1percent of total generation)”(EPA 2021). The statistics presented are ridiculously high, and the ability to mitigate them is easily in reach. There are a lot of incentives for corporations to transition into using environmentally friendly packaging. Overall it has the potential to reduce carbon emissions which may provide monetary incentives as carbon offsets would not have to be bought, it would reduce the amount of waste going into landfills, it would be cost-effective as it removes the use and purchase of non-renewable resources, and it could bring in new customers as it would align with demand and allow for the advertisement of a green company. Currently, the US uses an excessive amount of packaging for its products, and the materials that it uses are often non-renewable, cradle to grave products. It would be beneficial to cut down on packaging in general as the large majority of products have excessive packaging that only serves the purpose of making the product look more visually appealing or to give the appearance that the product has more volume than it does. Besides cutting down on the size of the packaging there are various new materials that can be used as a sustainable alternative to traditional plastic packaging. Some of these sustainable options includebiodegradable packing peanuts, corrugated bubble wrap, air pillow made of recycled materials, cornstarch packaging, seaweed packaging, mushroom packaging, organic fabrics, and various forms of recycled plastics and cardboards. These sustainable options are often beneficial in cost as well. As the importance of sustainability increases, more research into alternative green materials will be conducted leaving companies with a plethora of options for more sustainable packaging. Sustainability will soon be a staple that companies will want to align themselves with in order to meet the expectations and demands of a more conscious consumer base. Sustainable packaging is the first step that companies can take to become more environmentally conscious. As a society, we are moving towards recognizing the importance of protecting and preserving a healthy Earth. Large companies and corporations making small changes like transitioning to sustainable packaging processes will have exponentially beneficial effects on mitigating the effects of climate change and will help to protect our oceans from further pollution. Spreading the benefits of sustainable changes and making the public aware of current issues with the inefficiency of packaging is the first step towards creating a healthier planet.
Essay by: Blythe Kelly
Arizona State University – Tempe Campus