Environmental Footprint

Today, shoppers, brands, and retailers are all focused on more sustainable packaging solutions. To determine which packaging alternatives are better for the environment, you really need to consider all impacts throughout a package’s life cycle. These “Life Cycle Assessments” reveal that flexible packaging typically creates less environmental impact compared to traditional packaging options. Here’s a simplified look at the impacts that factor into the calculation:

Manufacture
materials, energy and water used, emissions generated


Use
transportation costs, shelf life, potential waste


End of Life
recycling potential versus landfill waste generated

Environmental Benefits

The Surprising Environmental Benefits of Plastics, Plastics Make it Possible

The Sustainability Benefits of Multilayer Pouch Packaging, Plastic Packaging Perspectives – 1:11

SUSTAIN THE WORLD: THE CASE FOR FLEXIBLE PACKAGING

The Life Cycle Assessment packaging case studies below provide foresight into future sustainability implications of these versatile materials. The six LCA case studies evaluate packaging formats across a range of products for their environmental impacts with a cradle-to-grave boundary.

Coffee

Motor Oil

Baby Food

Laundry Detergent Pods

Cat Litter

Juice Flavored Beverages

Eco Impact of Inverted Pouches vs Rigid Plastics

Case Study Comparisons

Below find several specific examples from case studies comparing every day products using flexible packaging versus other types of packaging. See the difference in environmental impact across the entire life cycle: greenhouse gas emissions (carbon impact), fossil fuel usage, water usage, product-to-package ratio, as well as material to landfill.

Carbon Impact
CARBON IMPACT

A rigid PET container for laundry detergent pods emits +726% more greenhouse gases than a flexible pouch with zipper

Water Usage
WATER USAGE

A HDPE bottle for motor oil packaging consumes +513% more water than a flexible pouch with fitment

Water Usage
FOSSIL FUEL USAGE

A rigid pail for cat litter packaging consumes +1,429% more fossil fuel than a flexible bag

Material to Landfill
MATERIAL TO LANDFILL

+31% more thermoformed tubs for baby food packaging ends up in a landfill compared to a flexible pouch with fitment

Water Usage
WATER USAGE

A steel can for packaging coffee consumes +1,605% more water than a flexible pouch

Product to Package Ratio
PRODUCT-TO-PACKAGE RATIO

A single serve juice flexible pouch efficiently uses packaging with a product-to-package ratio of +97%

Some of the environmental impact differences between flexible packaging and other packaging are obvious, whereas others are not:

  • Flexible packaging has further benefits during manufacturing, since it often ships flat or in rolls instead of fully formed and empty like bottles or cans. This can mean 15-25 fewer trucks to ship the same amount of packaging!
  • Transportation benefits continue throughout distribution where flexible packaging is both lighter weight and takes up far less room to store most alternatives due to high “product to package ratios.”
  • The process to form glass, rigid plastic, and aluminum require large amounts of heat, which drives high fossil fuel consumption, water use and, in turn, far greater greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Even though some materials like glass and steel are recycled at higher rates than flexible packaging, they are so bulky that they are still responsible for sending more package material to landfills than flexibles.
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