9 Eco-Friendly Packaging Alternatives for Your Business

We all know how important it is to reduce our impact on the environment. Many businesses are now improvising with new ways of designing and producing their products, attempting to lessen their carbon and environmental footprint, while simultaneously saving on costs. The concept of “cradle-to-cradle” — taking responsibility for a product’s impact from the sourcing of the materials to its ultimate disposal — is also becoming increasingly popular.

One of the biggest culprits when it comes to an industry’s impact is packaging materials and accessories. The cradle-to-cradle concept needs to take into account the shipping of a product from the producer, through the retailer, and onto the consumer—a process that often involves significant quantities of expensive packaging materials. This has led to a wave of innovative new eco-friendly alternatives to traditional packaging materials. From recyclable plastics to biodegradable containers, there is seemingly no end to the options available to the environmentally-conscious business. Here are a few your business can consider:


Styrofoam has been a standard in loose-fill packaging for fragile or otherwise sensitive items, helping to prevent movement and cushion against shocks. For businesses looking for the closest thing to this packaging classic, biodegradable air peanuts are now available to replace them. These work in the same way as their Styrofoam brethren, but they do not linger for eternity polluting the environment. They are also less expensive.


We are all familiar with bubble wrap packaging, that favourite of kids which helps to protect fragile items during shipping. It is not the eco-friendliest material, however, is made of plastic. The good news is that a number of alternatives to it are being developed.

One of these is a wrap made of up-cycled corrugated cardboard. Rather than disposing or recycling post-consumer cardboard waste, it gets the chance of an additional life as a cushioning material. Small cuts are made in it to produce a concertina-type effect that protects against shocks just as bubble wrap does. The only downside is that you don’t get the satisfaction of popping the bubbles afterwards!


Inflatable air pillows are another great eco and cost-saving alternative to Styrofoam or bubble wrap. Available in a variety of sizes, they are ideal for filling voids in boxes or providing cushioning around packed items.

They are small bags, which can be inflated, and therefore, when used as packaging, consist primarily of air. This cuts down on the amount of plastic used in their production and means they can be shipped with minimal packaging when compared to other cushioning materials.

What’s more, they can be reused, recycled, and are even biodegradable. Make sure to purchase air pillows made of 100 percent recycled materials and that emphasize their biodegradability.


Cornstarch is an organic material that has made in-roads into the eco-friendly packaging industry. Derived from the corn or maize plant, it has plastic-like properties, which can be used in many contexts that have traditionally relied upon plastics. From bottles to moulded forms and loose-fill packaging, cornstarch packaging adds many additional uses to this very American crop.

While a more environmentally sustainable alternative to petroleum-based packaging, cornstarch is not without its problems. As it is derived from the grains of corn, it effectively competes with the human and animal food supply, possibly raising the price of one of our dietary staples. It’s best to weigh both the pros and cons of this option when considering it for packaging needs.


Another cheap, eco-friendly packaging alternative that can be used to support smaller items is, believe it or not, made from mushrooms. It uses cleaned and ground agricultural waste, which is then fused together by a matrix of mushroom roots, otherwise known as mycelium.

Agricultural waste is exactly that — waste —and therefore could not be used as a food source for humans or animals. It consequently avoids the possible controversy linked to cornstarch packaging. The raw material can then be moulded into whichever shape is desired, dried, and used as packaging. Not only does this material avoid petroleum and food sources for its raw material, but it also biodegrades at an incredible rate. Mushroom packaging can be composted at home, breaking down into non-toxic, organic matter.


From corn to mushrooms to seaweed, the gelatinous substance agar, which is found in a variety of seaweeds and algae, is already used in several applications. This is the case especially in the food industry, where it can be utilized as a thickener or a vegetarian alternative to gelatin.

But now a team of designers has won a design award for prototyping its use as a packaging material. Being made from a plentiful and sustainable raw material, seaweed packaging could be the next big thing in eco-friendly packaging alternatives.


Of course, all these filler materials need to be housed in something, and cardboard boxes are the industry standard. While cardboard and paper are organic materials, if they are sourced unsustainably, their use can have a drastic impact on the environment.

Luckily, paper and cardboard are some of the most recyclable materials available. To ensure your packaging is as eco-friendly as possible, try to source post-consumer or post-industrial recycled paper and cardboard. Alternatively, materials marked as FSC-certified will be sourced from sustainably managed forests and could be an even better choice in certain circumstances.


There is no getting around it -some shipping needs require a sturdy and reliable material that isn’t going to break and can support heavy loads. While many of the alternatives based upon organic raw materials can be great for cushioning or filler, there are still times when only plastic will do. There is no need to cut back on your eco-credentials in these cases, however, as many plastic shipping materials and tools are now available made from 100 per cent recycled plastic. From drums, spill trays, and spill control pallets, you can choose eco-friendly shipping materials for all your shipping needs.


Plastic bags have been a staple in impacting the environment. A large percentage of businesses use plastic bags which end up polluting the environment. An eco-friendly alternative is organic fabrics for reusable bags. There are a bunch of different organic fabrics on the market now including hemp, organic or recycled cotton, tapioca, palm leaves, and many more. All of these materials even if throw out can biodegrade in around 100 days compared to the 10,000 years it takes for a plastic bag to biodegrade. There are also many other uses for these fabrics besides bags if you can get creative.


With so many eco-friendly alternatives on the market at competitive prices, more businesses are recognizing the opportunities in making the switch. Eco-friendly is becoming mainstream, and smart business owners throughout the country are making the change today to ensure they are ahead of the game tomorrow.

Source: Greenbusinessbureau

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