noissue compostable custom box by @kal_babies

Eco boxes, recyclable mailers, and other sustainable packing materials have become increasingly popular over the years. Businesses are increasingly looking to reduce the environmental impact of their packaging. Interestingly, the design phase for packaging determines 80% of that product’s environmental impact. That’s why understanding what constitutes sustainable packaging is more important than ever before.

There are two key types most people know about: recycled and compostable packaging. While often used to mean the same thing, there’s a huge difference between these two terms. As a business owner, choosing between them can feel daunting, but not if you have the right information on your side. Discover our breakdown of the key differences between recycled and compostable packaging to choose which sustainable packaging option is best for your business!

What is recycled packaging?

noissue's custom compostable boxes by @omjcreates

Recycling is a familiar process for most people, whether for packaging or other materials. It recovers waste material to turn it into new products. Different kinds of packaging can be recycled, including metal and soda cans, plastic and glass bottles, newspapers, and paperboard cartons. Such materials are compounded and then ground into new cans, bottles, and papers. For instance, many paper-based products can be recycled four to five times before the strength of their fiber is lost.

As an example, recycled boxes reduce greenhouse emissions, lower the amount of energy required to make packaging, and significantly cut landfill space. However, one of the biggest challenges to recyclable packaging is making customers understand how such packaging can be recycled. According to experts, 75% of American waste is recyclable, but only 30% is actually recycled. Additionally, a shocking 91% of plastic isn’t recycled at all.

How is compostable packaging different?

By contrast, composting is a process in which waste materials break down without leaving any toxic residue behind. Rather than reusing the material, compostable packaging is created to break down into natural, non-toxic elements. Composting happens best in an environment with high temperature, humidity, and the presence of bacteria or other microorganisms.

Organic materials like food waste are naturally compostable. However, other materials like bioplastics must adhere to certain specifications to be considered compostable. For instance, 90% of the material should decompose within 180 days, and the remaining should be below a certain level of ecotoxicity. Composting is often described as “adding nutrients to the soil,” which means the earth must be able to absorb that material for it to be compostable.

Composting can be done in two ways: at home or industrially. Home composting is when the waste can be composted at home. On the other hand, industrial composting is managed by a special facility with specific temperature conditions. As a business owner, the key is to help your customer do whichever works best for them.

Generally, compostable boxes are made of plant-based materials, particularly polymers derived from renewable resources like plant oils, fat oils, cellulose, and corn. While composting is a great avenue to sustainable packaging, a downside is that it’s not always as accessible as recycling. If you’re considering this for your business, look up community composting resources for your state or city to ensure your customers have somewhere to take their packaging.

Benefits of Eco-Friendly Packaging

noissue's custom tissue paper by @footprint.tales | pairing your compostable packaging with our custom tissue paper is a great way to elevate your brand the sustainable way

Both recyclable and compostable packaging fall under the umbrella of sustainable and circular packaging. There are many benefits to taking the plunge into the sustainable packaging world for your business:

  1. Reduces Carbon Footprint - Recycled boxes and the like significantly reduce the carbon footprint of your packaging compared to single-use materials. Similarly, compostable packaging breaks down into non-toxic materials that often nourish the soil. Since compostable boxes are made of plant-based materials, they do not harm the environment by releasing toxic chemicals. Other kinds of packaging, like plastic, take hundreds of years to decompose and even release toxic chemicals in the process.
  2. Appeals to Customers - As environmental awareness is increasing, customers are getting more and more concerned about their environmental impact. They’re actively taking progressive measures to reduce their carbon footprint. This includes buying from brands that make sustainable products and use sustainable eco boxes. According to a 2018 study, 90% of CEOs said sustainability is fundamental to the success of any company.
  3. Improves Brand Reputation - One of the biggest advantages of eco boxes is brand image improvement. Eco-friendly packaging provides a great first impression of your brand. It demonstrates your commitment to the environment and corporate responsibility, telling your customers they can trust your brand and even recommend it to friends or family. According to a 2019 study, customers’ altruistic values drive them toward eco-conscious brands.
  4. Offers Versatility - Sustainable, eco-friendly, and custom-made boxes are very versatile as they can be reused and repurposed in many different industries. Unlike traditional packaging, eco-friendly packaging can be used multiple times.  Even better, advances with QR compatible packaging allow you to connect with your customers right at the moment of unboxing. Teach them how to dispose of the packaging sustainably, allow them to re-order, or use it as a marketing opportunity to cement your brand in their minds. The possibilities are endless with QR compatible sustainable packaging.  
  5. Increases Sales - As mentioned above, sustainable packaging appeals more to modern customers. Taking a step toward sustainability can help your brand’s reputation, helping your customers connect with you and your values in an authentic way. Using eco boxes and other sustainable packaging is  a fantastic way to make your product more appealing to environmentally-conscious consumers while reducing your carbon footprint.
noissue's compostable custom boxes by

The right choice between recyclable and compostable packing will depend on who you are as a business and what your customers want to see. Shoot for a familiar recyclable favorite or take things a step further with eco-packaging your customers can compost at home. So, what are you waiting for?

That’s a Wrap!

At noissue, we bring your brand to life through our unique, sustainable, custom-made boxes. Our custom mailer boxes provide the ultimate unboxing experience. Made of FSC-approved materials and printed with sustainable compostable inks, noissue’s boxes are the perfect way to kickstart your sustainable packaging journey. Get in touch now and check out our offerings!