Aluminium is used across several sectors, including electronics, food and transportation as it is non-toxic, versatile and lightweight. Aluminium caters towards closed-loop recycling as it can be reused and recycled endlessly, and this process has a low carbon footprint.
Because it is lightweight so much more can be transported, reducing transportation emissions.
The initial production of aluminium varies depending on the source of energy used during the production process. According to ClimateAction, the carbon footprint ranges from less than four tonnes of Co2 per tonne of aluminium to 10 tonnes of Co2.
Paper and cardboard
Paper and cardboard are used across a wide range of industries, including retail, food, and manufacturing. Both materials come from trees, which is renewable resource. These materials don’t have any wastage, leakage or harmful dyes that impact the environment.
Cardboard and paper are lightweight materials that promote closed-loop recycling and don't need oil to manufacture them. Due to their weight, much more can be transported, reducing costs and transportation emissions. FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) cardboard ensures all cardboard and paper comes from renewable sources.
Plastic is one of the most popular packaging materials and is used across several sectors, from healthcare to food, beauty and more, due to its versatility and durability.
The UK government is introducing a plastic packaging tax in April 2022, so that businesses use recycled plastic instead of non-recycled plastic packaging.
According to CIEL, 3.5kg of Co2 is emitted per kilogram of plastic that’s manufactured, but recycled plastic has a much lower carbon footprint, which was shown in a 2018 life cycle assessment.
How to implement a carbon neutral packaging process
Understand the impact
Calculate your carbon footprint
Companies must understand the impact of their packaging process and benchmark their carbon footprint. But this isn’t easy to do. However, organisations can understand how to improve by doing the following
- Identify the sources of emissions that rely on fossil fuels and produce carbon dioxide
- Collect quantified data on this
There are basic carbon footprint calculators available online that might be able to help, but getting an accurate figure can be really difficult. It is best to speak to packaging consultants who can help with ballpark targets to aim for.
Undertake a competitor analysis
By looking at what other companies and competitors are doing, businesses can get a gauge on what is and isn’t achievable. It's also a great way to generate new ideas and improve on what’s already out there.
Collaborate with the supply chain
Companies should ensure that the businesses they work with in the supply chain have carbon neutral strategies in place, so that sustainable practices are felt throughout the supply chain.
For example, companies that use corrugated cardboard packaging should ensure they’re buying their cardboard from FSC certified suppliers. This means their cardboard is being sourced from a responsibly managed and renewable source.
This is a big job in and of itself, but can be executed with ease when you employ packaging consultants who have insight, knowledge and experience.