Calling store brand packagers: Embrace the sustainable package

Store brands are no longer following national brands for the look and functionality of packaging. In recent years, store brands have developed their own unique identities that are raising product expectations and challenging national brands on quality and packaging innovation.

With sustainability being both a consumer and retailer expectation, store brands face the challenge of how best to properly align products with sustainability needs. Likely you are already on the right track, and your direct relationship with retailers and consumers puts you in a unique position to change the landscape of sustainability efforts.

And this is important because consumers are increasingly looking for sustainable options. According to Nielsen, sustainably-minded U.S. shoppers are expected to spend up to $150 billion on sustainable CPG goods by 2021, representing an increase of $14-22 billion. Particularly with younger generations, there is a loyalty to brands with well-defined sustainability goals.

However, these well-intentioned consumers can get lost in the clutter of product choices, unclear sustainability benefits, and confusion on how to place used packaging correctly into the recovery stream.

A great way to stand out and achieve that loyalty is through your packaging. Here’s how:

1. Revamp Your Packaging
Technological advancements in flexible packaging provide a path for retailers to achieve sustainability goals while maintaining a high level of package functionality and performance.  Stand up pouches, for example, are experiencing a strong increase in mono-material constructions that will allow packages to be fully recyclable, including zipper and fitment closures when they are made from compatible materials.

Flexible packages, including their compatible zipper and fitment closures, offer a functional and sustainable packaging solution for retailers and their consumers.

For flexible packaging that is multi-material and not recyclable, sustainability benefits can still be achieved through source reduction, the addition of post-consumer recycled content (PCR), which utilizes recycled materials in the packaging, and “bio-resins,” which are feedstocks produced with minimal carbon output. 

“The benefits of flexible packaging are not always well understood,” according to Mandy Craig, director of marketing and sustainability for Accredo Packaging, a sustainable packaging producer. “Not only do flexible packages offer substantial material savings relative to other options, they also save water and fossil fuel, which helps contribute to an even greater overall carbon footprint savings.”

According to the Flexible Packaging Association, flexible packaging has a smaller carbon footprint compared to other materials, such as glass or rigid plastics. The light weight of flexible packaging results in less fossil fuel and water usage as well as lower carbon emissions and materials to landfill.

Flexible pouches with proper reclosable technologies can optimize product shelf life after the package is opened by minimizing exposure to air and moisture. Packaging designed to reduce product waste provides sustainable value to the consumer.

These are all great benefits, but in order to close the loop on your sustainable efforts, your shoppers need to know their role in the process.

2. Educate Your Consumers
A major component of the circular economy is consumer participation. While many store brands have established drop-off programs that allow consumers to recycle used flexible packages, these programs are not widely promoted, resulting in limited participation.

To get consumers on board, store brands must tie their drop-off program into their overall communication. Consumers need clear messaging on the package that can promote its sustainable properties as well as simple directions on how to recycle it. Store brands have a unique opportunity to tie their drop-off program identity to their packaging, which can also be incorporated into signage, websites, and other promotional items.

A strong drop-off program that is widely promoted gives customers the opportunity to return their used packages to the stores from which they came, helping to drive repeat customers. If the guest is happy with their overall experience and feels good about their purchase decisions, both the store brand and consumer become more sustainable.

3. Become a Champion of Sustainability
Embracing new flexible packaging technologies and building trust in your products and drop off programs helps consumers view your store brand as more than a money saver. They can save money while still receiving great products with sustainable advantages, which will keep them coming back. Guests will see store brands as a smart purchase decision for themselves, their families, and the environment.

By promoting your efforts and educating consumers about your programs, you can emerge as a champion of this next phase of sustainability and advance ongoing initiatives to reduce your carbon footprint. This is truly a win-win situation that is ripe for the picking, and the store brands that seize the opportunity can position themselves for future success.


Todd Meussling is the Fresh-Lock senior manager market development. The Fresh-Lock brand is the market leader in press-to-close zipper and track & slider reclosable solutions for flexible packaging. Fresh-Lock products are designed and produced by Presto Products a business of Reynolds Consumer Products.

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