he excitement after receiving and unboxing a parcel is the real deal. As you open the parcel, you see layers of packaging as a protective film between the products. You ignore (as we all do) and discard them in the trash can.
But did you know that the piled-up packaging in the trash can comes at a cost, both financially and environmentally? Financially, as per research by Ohio State University, the average package costing is $1 for every $11 disbursed. If you buy a product for $121, the average packaging cost will be $11.
Purpose and Types of Packaging
- Functional needs: Packaging keeps the product safe from extreme climatic conditions like heavy rain or direct sunlight. It prevents the accumulation of dirt or stains on the product surface. It also ensures negligible damages in transportation, regardless of its speed and efficiency. Packaging fulfils the basic requirement of a customer, i.e., safe shipment.
- Product labelling: Packaging conveys relevant information about the product to the customer. The product labelling on a packaging features details like wash instructions, certificate, material type, and product origin. It also features the product price and warning. Besides branding and product promotion, product labelling helps a customer to differentiate one brand from another.
- Sales needs: Packaging increases brand sales by offering a unique unboxing experience. It encourages customers to join online communities of the brand and review the products. The unique presentation through duplicated packaging attracts customers. It also consists of a return label, a powerful marketing tool that provides convenience and attention to customer requirements.
Cost of Packaging and Marketing Materials
Many of us often overlook the fact that packaging does not come free, especially the fancy ones. While some materials act as a protective cover, others are used for branding.
Estimating the environmental cost of excessive packaging requires more scientific approaches, but figuring out the financial cost is a lot more straightforward. For general awareness, we found the typical costs for a list of common packaging material:
- Printed wash label (colour vs. black & white): Printed wash labels are tags with symbols that denote the ideal way to wash, dry, and iron the garment.
- Average Cost: $0.05- 0.20 (for both)
- Carbon box in original colour: Carbon boxes are thick pale brown boxes used for packing goods and protecting them from damage.
- Cost: $1-$2 for small shipping boxes (such as for 10x8x4 inches)
- Carbon box with print: Standard carbon boxes that are custom-designed with any print (like the brand logo) are called carbon boxes with print.
- Cost: under $2-3 for small shipping boxes.
- Sydney paper: Sydney papers are thin light-weighted wrapping sheets that give a unique presentation to the packaging. They are commonly used for bouquets.
- Cost: 40 sheets for $16.99
- Bubble wrap: Bubble wrap is a plastic wrapping sheet that protects fragile items during shipment. The bubbles on its surface act as a layered cushion to secure the product.
- Cost: 2 pack bubble wrap rolls costs around $13.97
- Printed card: Printed cards are cards made with information, images, and texts concerning the brand.
- Cost: $4-5 on an average
- Customized envelope: A customized envelope is a thin and flat sealable flap that is tailor-made to secure mail and cards.
- Cost: $0.16 to $0.74 each
- Ribbon: Ribbons are fabric strips that are used to decorate any packaging.
- Cost: 4 rolls covering 100 yards costs approximately $8.95
- Tote bag: Tote bags are large cloth bags with parallel handles that help to carry products and items.
- Cost: Varies; starts from $3.95 apx
- PVC bag: PVC bags are large, durable, and flexible bags made from polyvinyl chloride.
- Cost: 0.08 to 0.8 apx (per peice)
- Drawstring bag: Bags that are secured with drawstring (cords, strings, lace used for opening and closing bags) are called drawstring bags. They are used for packing the beddings and are made from leftover fabrics from sheets. However, labor cost is charged for its creation.
- Cost: $10.69 for a set of 2
- Tag: Tags are labels that include all the details about the product like name, price, barcode, etc.
- Cost: $11.99 for 1000 pcs
- Poly-mailer: Poly mailers are thin, light, and durable packaging materials made from plastic.
- Cost: $0.49
Keep note that the cost mentioned-above is a rough estimation of the material. It varies as per the size, quantity, and quality.
Environmental cost of excessive packaging
Excessive packaging materials have a destructive effect on the environment. It generates unnecessary waste, exploits valuable resources, and emits toxic pollutants. However, by turning to eco-friendly packaging, we can take a step towards a healthier atmosphere. It can:
- Decrease the carbon footprint
- Provide more space
- Keep the packaging free from toxins and allergens
- Limit solid waste, electricity, and water usage
- Lead to easy disposal
- Lead to positive branding
Over-packaging not only incurs extra costs that will eventually be passed down to consumers (as embedded in the product price), but it also generates unnecessary waste and pollution. In many cases, the packaging and marketing materials serve little reuse or recycle values, and are tossed away instantly after unpacking.
To minimise the downsides from packaging, we believe in using packing materials that can be easily reused and recycled, such as drawstring bags and tote bags that can be later used in replace of shopping bags or storage bags.