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Is Sustainable Packaging More Costly? The ‘Hidden’ Savings

When it comes to sustainable packaging materials, for some businesses their first thought can be “it costs more”. Whilst arguably the cost of using harmful materials to the environment is much more detrimental, it can be difficult for businesses to switch and commit to being sustainable.

Have faith! We want to use this blog to explore ‘hidden’ savings and other considerations that can hugely impact the cost of your overall packaging. So for companies that want to switch to sustainable materials but are worried about the financial cost, we hope that this will show you that through intelligent design with sustainable materials, you can actually save money.

As clients approach us to move away from plastics and polystyrene, it is always very important for us to be transparent. At the start of the packaging journey, the cost always comes into play front end. And yes, more often than not, the unit costs for pulp packaging vs. polystyrene is a little more expensive, for example. However, we urge companies to look beyond the unit cost and here’s why…



We are sure that many of you will agree, space costs money, right? We often find that conversations around packaging focus solely on unit costs. However, it is equally important (if not more so), to consider your business as a whole – including the cost of warehouse space or similar. When packaging is designed effectively with sustainable materials the design can be much more compact and efficient, meaning less storage space is needed.


As seen in the image opposite, we recently worked with a kitchen manufacturer to replace their polystyrene trays for their kitchen doors with moulded pulp. Need we point out the size difference? The client can now store up to 3x more packaging trays than before, all through efficient design with intelligent packaging materials.






Plastic Tax is coming!

For those that are using plastic as a cheaper packaging alternative, it is important to be aware of the Plastic Packaging Tax which is coming into force in April 2022. This will massively impact companies that are using plastic with less than 30% recycled material - there will be a tax added to this type of packaging, which will likely be passed through the supply chain.


In just over a year, you will likely find that the ‘like for like’ unit cost of plastic vs pulp, may be exactly the same. This is being imposed by the Government to incentivise businesses to use sustainable packaging materials, you can find out more about the tax here.



The wonders of paper

Paper is an amazing material when treated properly. It can form an array of different sustainable packaging materials including corrugated, solid board and pulp. Each material has a different cost, meaning that there is always a design option that can accommodate your budget. But that is what the experts are for, at Switch we will take the time to understand your business and requirements and advice on the best packaging design suited to you and your budget.


possibilities of paper




Supply chains


Optimised supply chains

To achieve real efficiencies for our clients is our ultimate goal. Beyond the reasons above, costs in packaging can be saved by looking at the entire supply chain, design and processes – something which our team is recognised for as a packaging consultancy.


For example, we recently worked with a client to review their packaging design and cut down on costs. We advised on making a very small change to their packaging design which then meant it could go through the packaging line twice as fast, and the hidden costs of that were really great.





The bigger picture

It goes without saying that the cost of using harmful materials such as plastic and polystyrene are irreversible and detrimental to the environment. Therefore, when presented with a ‘unit to unit’ cost, be sure to think of the bigger picture and other areas you can save money in your packaging design and lines. But of course, think of future generations and your social and corporate responsibility.


We hope this has given you another perspective on how sustainable packaging designs can be more efficient and cost effective. And ultimately, the more sustainable materials are used and invested in, the more technical developments will advance and improve accessibility and efficiencies for all. If you are looking to move towards sustainable packaging materials but nervous about the costs, please feel free to get in touch with our friendly team who will happily look at your options and existing processes.


Consultation for packaging


Packaging design



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