8 Companies Leading the Charge with Sustainable and Eco-Friendly Packaging
At A Glance
- Consumers are increasingly concerned with the environmental harm caused by disposable packaging and its impact on the planet's health.
- Shoppers make purchase decisions based on the environmental impact of packaging. This change in consumer attitude has led to grocers growing demand for compostable and biodegradable packaging.
- Discover the disruptive technologies and companies at the forefront of sustainable packaging.
- Uncover eight startups driving innovation in product packaging.
As consumer awareness about societal and environmental concerns grows, tech-savvy grocers are developing sustainable initiatives to connect with consumers and position their organizations as leaders in the movement. Sustainability has risen to a c-level priority, transcending to various businesses and activities, including agriculture, food processing, packaging, distribution, and retail.
According to Grocery Doppio’s "January 2023: State of Digital Grocery Performance Scorecard," packaging improvement is a top sustainability priority for 66% of grocers. Consumers’ perception of packaging affects their purchase decisions, and 37% of shoppers will pay a premium for sustainable products. Shopper health and environmental concerns are pressuring grocers to re-evaluate their strategies around the durability and resilience of each product they sell.
It is no secret that product packaging and consumption go hand in hand. It is also well-known that product packaging serves critical functionalities in safety, preservation, distribution, and brand recall for grocers.
One of the major drivers in the sustainable packaging industry is the reduction of single-use plastics. There is awareness about consuming biodegradable and reusable packaging; however, according to "Plastics: Material-Specific Data | US EPA," only 9% of plastic is recycled annually. The numbers, however dismal, point out the alarming challenges in infrastructure, logistics, and technology the industry faces. Most of the packaging today is constructed of paper, plastic, aluminum, and steel. Technology, logistics, and regulations are vital in addressing ongoing packaging recycling concerns.
State legislators are crafting numerous recycling-related policies in 2023 and working to introduce them as bills in 2023. Last year California passed SB-54, which established Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) for packaging. The EPR bill provisions for developing more accessible ways to dispose of packaging, including food takeout containers, bags, bulky cardboard boxes, newspapers, and other materials. The produced trash will be disposed of by establishing mandatory, manufacturer-funded stewardship organizations
Below is an overview of innovative startups, including plant-based, technology-aided, and platforms committed to lessening packaging’s impact.
Nohbo: A company using disruptive technology that produces water-soluble films encapsulating personal care products that meet demise when met with water. The startup was founded in 2014 by Benjamin Stern. With a vertically integrated supply chain, the company can produce 30,000 kilos of product annually to help brands build customizable packaging solutions. The brand has been honored by the New York Society of Cosmetic Chemists, and Benjamin Stern was honored with the young entrepreneur's award in 2016.
Novoloop: An innovative startup that creates high-quality products from carbon waste. It aims to develop a world of plastic circularity, developing products from polyethylene (a standard waste plastic) by converting it into its Novoloop TPU that can be molded and suit the requirements of its clients. The company has recently partnered with On | Swiss Performance Running Shoes & Clothing | On to produce its outsole for the latest shoe consortium cloud prime. The startup was founded in 2015 by Miranda Wang to build a sustainable environment with impactful technology.
Supplier Package Relationship: Connecting Networks
Impacked Packaging: An innovative B2B platform for sourcing primary packaging. Founded by Lisa Marie Assenza in 2020, it is a centralized platform facilitating collaboration between suppliers and buyers, simplifying the procurement process while reducing costs and improving efficiencies. It offers competitive pricing and strives to become a resource for the CPG industry, focussing on personal care, pet grooming, and household applications.
LimeLoop: A digital solution that works with e-commerce platforms to solve shipping challenges using innovative technology. Founded in 2018 by Ashley Etling, the company's mission is to eliminate single-use plastic packaging and reduce the environmental impact on shipping products. The platform provides insights into customer experience, tracking packages, and saving carbon emissions. It has partnered with Toad&Co and UpChoose as early adopters of its vinyl recycled lightweight water-proof pouch that can be reused to replace plastic bags and boxes.
Trayak: A sustainability solutions company that offers product lifecycle management, sustainable packaging design, and carbon footprint analysis. Founded by Prashant Jagtap in 2010, the notable company offering is its ECOIMPACT compass. This cloud-based tool helps clients assess the environmental impact of their product packaging throughout its lifecycle. Trayak's compass software is listed as a resource in Walmart's Sustainable Packaging Playbook to evaluate the tradeoffs by packaging suppliers while optimizing package designs for sustainability.
Holding the Fort: Provisioning Grocers
PlantSwitch: A sustainable bioplastic packaging company offering high-quality biodegradable single-use cutlery. Founded in 2020 by Dillon Baxter, its clients included Just Salad and Hampton Social. The company produces plastic alternatives using leftover agave fibers and liquid in tequila manufacturing. The products are compostable and biodegradable and are meant to be thrown in the trash.
Elevate Packaging: A two-decade-old sustainable packaging company that provides recyclable and compostable friendly packaging pouches, bags, and labels to meet the eco-friendly requirements of grocers and food service industries. The compostable cellophane sheets are made from wood cellulose fibers which are FDA approved. Founded in 2000 by Rich Cohen, the company has certified products and an EPR take-back program. One of their clients, Don Maslow Coffee, now sells their coffee in certified compostable zippers and valves.
EcoTensil: The company provides sustainable and eco-friendly utensils for the food industry. The company was founded in 2010 by Peggy Cross to eliminate single-use plastics in food and grocery. Their products include Eco-taster, Eco-iscoop, Ecospoon, Spoonlidz, and Ecosecurity utensils. Their award-winning flagship product, compostable paper taster is primarily a tester that can be used in-store food tasting, food sampling events, and demos at farmer’s markets. It uses one-fifth the space of other tasters and is used in major retailers, including Target, Costco, and Wholefoods. The company demonstrates a solid commitment to sustainability and reducing plastic waste in the future.
Sustainable packaging solutions are critical for the retail grocery industry to reduce waste and promote environmental well-being. Grocers can make a measurable impact on the environment by implementing various sustainable packaging solutions such as compostable and biodegradable packaging.