Reducing the amount of packaging is the most impactful change you can make to improve the sustainability of your packaging. Reducing components means less material used, less energy, less production waste, less fuel burned in transit, less space in storage, and less packaging that needs to be recycled or disposed.
Component reduction is also a key driver in reducing packaging costs. As consumers become more aware of their own environmental impact, they are becoming more critical of the amount of waste they’re discarding from wasteful or unnecessary packaging1. This presents opportunities for companies to creatively find the minimal amount of packaging necessary.
Why choose it
Material usage directly correlates to carbon footprint1. Materials are also the primary driver of cost. Using fewer components, can also lead to weight reduction which reduces transit emissions and costs.
If you’re shipping a box with a cotton bag and a piece of a flyer inside, cutting out the fabric bag can cut down your carbon footprint of that package by 87%.
Another advantage of reducing components is cutting down on overall transit. Each component likely has its own manufacturer, which is shipping from their factory to your warehouse. Using fewer factories equates to less emissions from transit. In 2016, transportation produced more carbon dioxide emissions in the US than power plants3.
Component reduction also eases the disposal burden for customers. When packages ship to customers, the waste becomes their responsibility. The less they have to dispose of, the smaller their personal footprint.
Why not choose it
Companies that provide high-end or luxury products are often associated with more elaborate packaging that can involve more components. By reducing the amount of components, you may be creating a less compelling user experience for certain types of customers.
For fragile or complex products, reducing the number of components may compromise the structural integrity of the package.
Some products such as medications legally require collateral and ancillary items that contribute to the overall number of components.
Frequently asked questions
Daniel Binkoski. How to Estimate the Carbon Footprint of Your Packaging (Lumi, 2020)
March 2020: Monthly Energy Review (EIA, 2020)
Katelan Cunningham. Ask Lumi: Is Compostable Plastic Better for the Planet? (Lumi, 2019)