The 3 C’s of Packaging

Packaging gets a bad rap—overused, overfilled, too much single-use plastic, waste of resources, pollution to marine environments. But it serves a crucial role in modern life and should not be taken lightly.

It takes time, commitment and changes in business practices to increase packaging sustainability. But there are some clear actions that companies can take to get started.

1. Convenience

Convenience is one of the chief selling attributes of most products and packaging. Convenience relates to ease of use, accessibility and availability. The word convenience has many meanings in the context of product packaging including, for example, “ability to be opened easily”, “added value to the package”, and “fitness for purpose”.

Among the key functions of packaging is protection and preservation. The package protects the product against physical, chemical and microbial attack from its environment. In food, the package also preserves the product and extends its shelf life. It can do this through the use of materials such as glass, metals and plastics. It can also be done through the use of features such as resealability, press-to-seal and other tamper evident closures.

Product packaging can help to allure consumers by printing specific creative kits that contain other related product items, thereby enhancing the marketing of the package. This helps to boost brand repute, attract customers and increase sales revenue.

In addition, the design of the packaging can be used to distinguish a particular item from other similar products on the market. This can be done by using different shapes, font styles and colours to create a unique identity for the product.

It can also be a way to convey printed information about the product, such as its weight, date of production and usage guidelines. This can be especially important in foods, where proper packaging is essential for health reasons. Proper packaging is also essential for pharma, medical instruments and other healthcare products. This is because improper product packaging can result in contamination that can spread diseases or even life-saving medicines. It is therefore important to test the robustness of your product packaging, ensuring that it can resist rough handling and other environmental factors.

2. Control

Packaging is often seen as a cost center, and many companies struggle to minimize waste. Using the 3 C’s of packaging— cube, content and curb—to develop your sustainable supply-chain strategy can help you reduce waste and support environmentally conscious customers.

The primary function of product packaging is to protect a finished or semi-finished product from contamination and damage during shipping, handling and storage. It also facilitates communication, as printing and other information can be printed onto the packaging. Aesthetically, it helps to create a more appealing product image and can add value, as consumers are drawn to attractive packaging and perceive products with stronger brands as being of higher quality.

Secondary packaging, sometimes referred to as bulk or transit packaging, serves to group a number of product units together into what are known as stock-keeping units (SKUs), making them easier to handle and transport from the manufacturer’s production facility to the point of sale. This is where the importance of good design becomes apparent, as a well-designed package can help to minimize transport costs and reduce waste generated by product movement and handling.

Tertiary packaging, or e-commerce packaging, provides additional protection and convenience for end-consumers and is typically made up of a combination of the primary and secondary packaging. It aims to make the product easy for customers to purchase and use, which can be achieved through good design, a strong brand identity, or added value features such as RFID tags for scanning.

It is important to note that improving packaging sustainability requires a company-wide effort, as the whole supply chain must be involved in the process. Establishing packaging sustainability goals and incorporating them into a business model is one way to get started, but it is equally important for management to question the way they manage their entire operations to identify areas where improvements can be made.

3. Customization

Packaging is meant to make a lasting impression on consumers. Whether it’s through colors, design, stickers, or even tapes, the packaging should be unique and attractive to your customers. This will ensure that your product stands out from other products and that your customer is impressed when they open it. This will also benefit your business as they take your product with them and advertise your brand for you!

Besides aesthetics, customized packaging offers other advantages. For example, it can help you avoid unnecessary waste by optimizing the packaging material used. It can also reduce shipping costs by reducing the number of boxes needed to ship a certain amount of product. It can also reduce the need for void fill material by grouping multiple items into one package. Finally, customized packaging can help you differentiate your product from others by creating a memorable unboxing experience.

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While customization can be expensive, it is also an excellent way to connect with your customers and build loyalty. It can be as simple as including a handwritten note in each order or as complex as giving detailed instructions inside the box (like Journ does). A well-crafted personalized message is sure to make your customer feel appreciated and valued.

Packaging sustainability is becoming an important consideration for most companies. However, it’s important to understand that implementing sustainable management business practices will require more than just making a few changes. By choosing packaging partners such as Billerud with a track record of sustainable packaging practices, you can take the first step towards a more eco-conscious supply chain.