Sustainable Packaging – An Introduction

At Forms Plus, we work hard to ensure our business decisions have a positive impact on the environment. Living and working in Cornwall, close to the sea and beautiful beaches, we are lucky to benefit from stunning natural surroundings. It is only natural then for us to take a look at the packaging products we sell, and make sure they are selected to be as eco-friendly as possible.

Over the past few months, we have been researching environmentally friendly packaging options and looking into the claims made around packaging and the environment. This has helped us to see the best way to develop our range, making sure we both provide what our customers need and do the best we can for the environment.  97% of those of you who helped us with our research said that it was important both to you and your customers to use eco-friendly packaging, so we thought we would share some of that information with you to help you make well-informed decisions of your own.

Enviroflute Plastic Free Protective Packaging
We now sell Enviroflute plastic free protective envelopes

We thought we would start by explaining some of the terms we already use on our products’ ‘Eco Benefits’ listings. We chose to keep this simple and focus on five main terms:

Plastic Free -these products do not contain any plastics made from fossil fuels.  Instead, they use natural materials which will biodegrade easily, for example our new Eco Padded Envelopes from Enviroflute.

Recyclable – this means that a certain percentage of the product’s materials must be able to be made into something else, usually via normal household recycling. Our cardboard Mailing Boxes can be totally recycled. Other products can be partially recycled, for example the paper part of our padded envelopes can be recycled, if separated from the plastic interior.

Biodegradable – the material in these products is free from toxins and will be broken down safely and naturally by bacteria over time, so will not pollute the environment.  Our Paper Tape is a biodegradable alternative to standard polypropylene tape.

Sustainable Materials – sustainable products are made from materials that do not deplete or degrade the environment.  For example, the paper in our Padded Envelopes is sourced within the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certification which means that the paper is made from well managed forests that will continue to support their local environment and population for years to come.

Recycled – if a product is listed as Recycled, it means that the materials it is made from have been used before. All our Mailing Bags  are made from 100% recycled material. Using recycled, rather than single-use materials, reduces landfill and cuts down on usage of raw materials.

Using these terms to rank our products, we have now launched our Eco Products Range – do click to have a look.

There are also a host of other terms you will hear relating to packaging. A few of these are explained below:

Compostable Packaging Logo

Compostable – the material in these products will biodegrade but will do so into organic matter that not only breaks down but does so in such a way as to benefit the environment, improving soil health and acting as a fertiliser.

Plastic Free – many of the new products we are looking into adding to our range, are plastic free alternatives to products such as bubble wrap or polythene packaging. Our research shows that both Forms Plus customers and the public are keen to see plastic free packaging used whenever possible.  However, it is still very hard to find plastic free products that are as resilient, as protective, and as affordable as the plastic version, so we are also working on making sure all our products that do contain plastic have other eco-benefits. This includes being made from recycled plastic, being recyclable or made from biodegradable forms of plastic.

Current plastic free options in our range include Cardboard PackagingBoard Backed Envelopes and Paper Tape.

Carbon Neutral – whilst once a real buzz word, our research showed that our customers and the public found Carbon Neutral the least interesting of the eco-benefits discussed. Carbon neutrality is normally achieved by offsetting the carbon produced in making products, by funding projects which protect and restore carbon-rich environments such as tropical rainforests. Closer to home, you can help cut carbon emissions by choosing packaging that is the right size for the items you are shipping, saving on vehicle space and emissions by using products such as Book Wraps or Postal Tubes rather than large boxes.

Overall, our research showed that demand for eco-friendly packaging is on the rise, both from online sellers and from their customers.  In general, every reseller wants to use eco-friendly packaging. The challenge is to find the right products to protect whatever you are shipping to at least the level it is protected now, whilst maintaining costs that we can all bear.

We are working hard to research and develop our range and will let you know when new items become available.  At this stage, we would like to thank those of you who completed our survey or took the time out for a phone interview with us.   We learned a great deal from talking to you.  In the meantime, if you have any queries about the eco-benefits of our products, or other suggestions to help us develop our environmentally friendly packaging range, do visit our Eco Products Range or get in touch.