Product-based companies are facing sustainability scrutiny across every part of their manufacturing and supply chains. This means innovation is key. I've gathered some examples of sustainable packaging here that showcase what can be done when companies put sustainability at their heart. They combine eco-friendly materials, innovative functionality and original design.
*I have no affiliation with any of these brands. I am a genuine customer, follower and admirer of their work, but I am not being paid for featuring them in this post.
The brainchild of Sukhi Sindhu and Ravinder Singh Sandhu, Drinks Cubed is "on a mission to become the UK's lowest carbon footprint drinks brand by 2022." This ambition will partly be achieved through the use of sustainable packaging solutions.
Drinks Cubed's first product, aptly named Water Cubed, is mineral water that is boxed rather than bottled. Some might argue that selling water in any kind of vessel isn't the most eco-friendly approach. But Sukhi and Ravinder maintain that their message is always to encourage people to drink tap water before buying water - even theirs. However, for as long as people are buying bottled water (and remember in some countries, tap water is not an option), they would rather provide a solution that doesn't add to our plastic pollution problem. Which is why they have created one of the most eye-catching examples of sustainable packaging out there.
Sustainable packaging features and highlights:
Drinks Cubed's innovative packaging is 100% recyclable. That is as a single unit, unlike most other drinks cartons, which need separating to recycle their different elements. It is made up of 95% plant-based materials. The remaining 5% is unique to Drinks Cubed, as they are the first drinks brand in the world to use ASI certified aluminium to line the insides of their carton bottles.
This packaging generates up to 41% less in CO2 emissions than their plastic-based competitors. The plant-based plastic that is used in their lids is made from tall oil, a by-product of the paper milling industry and the boxes themselves are made from FSC certified paperboard.
One last thing - the "cubed" nature of this packaging means that it's much more efficient in terms of storage and transport
Sustainable packaging is just the tip of the iceberg for Drinks Cubed. They have analysed and planned out every stage of their manufacturing, supply and distribution chains to ensure their target of becoming the UKs most sustainable drinks brand comes to fruition. To see what they're up to, you can visit their website or follow them on Instagram for updates and lots of pictures of that lovely blue box.
If you're looking for dedication, an example of business growth without the ego growth that sometimes comes with it, and sustainability to a person's very core, look no further. Camilla, founder of CONCHUS is your woman. Call me a fangirl but honestly, I cannot rave enough about this brand. Luxurious-feeling products without the luxury price tag. Genuine connection with their customers. An in-depth knowledge of skincare, hair care and beauty - and all without the plastic waste.
An example of sustainable packaging from a kindness-fuelled brand
The sustainable packaging examples I'm focusing on here are the beautiful labels on CONCHUS' glass bottles of face drops. By the way, they're awesome; they come in 3 different formulations for different skin types and they smell delicious. I use mine every day and night and my skin is super soft and in the best condition I can remember. But this is about the labels.
The metallic style labels on most high-end skincare brands' bottles can be a problem. Yes, glass bottles are great, but did you know that most metallic-style labels contain plastic? Because of the nature of cosmetic labels - coming into contact with oils and water on a regular basis can make them start to wear. This is why the majority of cosmetic labels are coated with plastic.
Not so with CONCHUS. Camilla spent over 9 months perfecting the formula for CONCHUS face drops. It's obvious she doesn't take shortcuts, and the same goes for their 100% paper, uncoated labels, which she found after searching far and wide to find a solution.
You'll notice that there is some plastic involved with these products - but fear not. The plastic droppers that come with CONCHUS face drops are designed to be reused. So when you buy your second bottle (which you will), you can opt to have it sent with a recyclable aluminium cap. But don't recycle it, because it's really handy to pop back on for travelling to avoid any oil spills on your swimsuit.
So there you have it! I love the thought and passion that goes into every element of this brand and can't wait to see what's to come.
CONCHUS by the sea
As I type this, Camilla and her family are in the middle of a move from Milton Keynes to Devon. And, in even more exciting news, CONCHUS now has a studio! No more working out of the kitchen in their family home (although I bet it smelt amazing), and a proper workspace for all of the lovely orders we see posted on the CONCHUS Instagram page each day.
Back in 2018, I was looking for a more eco-friendly way to do our family's laundry. I tried various solutions, including the Eco Egg (not a fan) and soapnuts (didn't work for us). Then I stumbled across smol. A new company, who would post laundry capsules to me in letterbox-friendly packaging. When I read that their capsules contained a lower harmful chemical content than standard laundry products, I was interested. When I saw that their products promised high-power cleaning, my Mum-brain was activated. Could I really get those pasta sauce stains off my children's clothes without using every chemical under the sun? When they told me all their products were vegan and cruelty-free, I signed up for a free trial.
Yes, but what about the sustainable packaging?
Here's the thing. I was slightly disappointed with smol's plastic packaging. Yes, it was recycled and recyclable, but it still felt a bit off. I didn't feel like I was doing enough.
So I sent them a message to ask whether they had any plans to introduce plastic-free packaging or even a refill scheme. Their reply: "It's difficult because of the fact our packaging has to be child-impeding by law. Watch this space."
Hmm. This is usually a fob-off by companies who hope I won't actually watch said space. But I did.
Now, the most impressive thing about this packaging is not that I can stick it in my recycling bin. It's the clever design that makes it really hard for children to access the contents.
The new box is made fully from recycled and recyclable cardboard, AND it's almost impossible for little fingers to get into**. In fact, before I read the (very clear, by the way) instructions on how to open the boxes, I had no idea. Hurrah for form, function, safety and innovation! If you're interested in how the boxes work, here's smol's explainer video.
You can get bio and non-bio laundry capsules AND dishwasher tablets all in this amazing packaging - I use them all and I love them. Did I tell you they also fit through your letterbox? I did, didn't I? But it's exciting so I'll say it again.
*Now, I know I said above that I wouldn't financially benefit from posting about these companies, but I've just noticed in my smol account that I have a referral code. So, if you fancy giving them a (free) trial, please order through this link and I'll get a little discount off my next order. Which is always welcome when you do as much washing as I do each week.
**Despite smol's packaging being difficult for children to access, they always recommend keeping their products well out of reach, just in case.
Show me more examples of sustainable packaging (please)
As you may be able to tell, I'm pretty excited about all these examples of sustainable packaging. I really want to discover more - please let me know what your favourite innovative packaging solution is in the comments below. And if you liked this article, please come and give me a follow on LinkedIn or Instagram for more enthusiastic ramblings, industry news and writing tips for businesses.