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Is Reusable or Recyclable CPG Packaging a Better Option?

Sustainable packaging is extremely important to CPG customers. Reusable and recyclable packaging are two options that help reduce waste. Depending on the type of packaging, reusable or recyclable materials may work best. Here’s what you need to know.

Sustainability in CPG Packaging Is a Growing Trend

Consumers want companies to use sustainable packaging. Consumer behavior suggests 61% of customers are avoiding products that use single-use plastics. 45% of Gen Z consumers also ceased buying certain brands due to sustainability or ethical concerns.

Sustainability is becoming a standard amongst several companies. Transparency is key when communicating this as a value to consumers.

Customers want brands to step up and incorporate sustainability in every aspect of their value chains. This means choosing sustainable materials for both products and packaging.

Customers want to know they can recycle their CPG packaging after receiving products. Knowing their favorite brands are choosing reusable and recyclable materials will go a long way towards creating and maintaining brand trust and loyalty.

Recycling symbol.

Recyclable VS. Reusable Packaging - What’s the Difference?

There is a distinct difference between recyclable and reusable packaging. Both help to reduce waste and conserve natural resources. However, one is often preferred over the other.

Recyclable packaging is used once, then placed in the recycling bin. This is what is known as single-use packaging. Recycling creates waste that is recovered. Here, waste is managed rather than reduced.

Reusable packaging helps reduce waste by using materials repeatedly. This often makes it the preferred option over recyclable packaging. Reusable packaging is typically used for transporting products. It includes bins, pallets, trays, and handheld containers that move items through supply chains.

CPG brands can choose reusable packaging to efficiently and safely ship and store products. This type of CPG packaging is usually designed for transporting products from business to another, but opportunities for its use in home delivery and e-commerce are emerging.

There are other ways to choose reuse over recycling as a CPG brand. One option is to encourage customers to reuse, return, and refill the product packaging rather than recycling it or throwing it away. One out of every four CPG manufacturers would consider making purchases or modifications in equipment to achieve sustainability. One in three would consider the reuse, return, and refill solution to improve the impact these materials have on the environment. 

Recycling symbol on plastic bin.

Choosing the Best Packaging Option for Your CPG Brand

Choosing the right CPG packaging depends on the nature of your business. If you use single-use recyclable packaging and want to move to more sustainable packaging, research whether reusable options are available for your products.

Some brands are using other types of sustainable options like edible packaging to reduce waste. The key is to omit the use of plastics where possible in favor of other materials.

Reusable packaging is a trend that continues to grow. According to product packaging research, setting a reusable packaging target of 50% could significantly reduce waste, water consumption, and CO2 emissions. This will lead to a truly circular economy and help raise awareness for the need to increase sustainability across all channels.

PKG Brand Design is always on the forefront of new CPG branding and packaging initiatives, please subscribe to our blog for the latest package design industry news!


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