Think Green, Buy Brown

Thu May 18 2023

Think Green, Buy Brown

Many companies come to 5 Star packaging looking to reduce their carbon footprint through innovative custom packaging, and many times the answer is paper. As the environmental impact of human economic activity becomes clearer, companies are under more and more scrutiny from consumers about their product packaging. Sustainability has become important to many consumers, who are now looking to select brands based on efforts to be more environmentally friendly. With eco-friendly packaging solutions in higher demand than ever before, many brands have already switched to more sustainable paper based packaging. Even large global brands such as Coca-Cola and Amazon have recently undertaken initiatives to reduce the amount of waste created by their product packaging. In the European market, Coca-Cola plans to completely phase out plastic shrink-wrap by 2025 in favor of cardboard sleeves. This decision was made after the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research in Heidelberg, Germany found that, “cardboard provides the best balance between carbon footprint and recyclability-with the added benefit that we are replacing hard to recycle shrink wrap with 100% recyclable-sic-cardboard from sustainable sources.” If your company is also looking for sustainable, recyclable, and compostable packaging, see what we can design for you using various paper products. The list below offers several reasons why paper packaging might make your products greener.


Corrugated boxes contain both large amounts post-consumer and recycled content.

One advantage of corrugated boxes is that most board tests are made from mostly recycled content, i.e. boxes or newspaper, and can be recycled multiple times. Also, most corrugated packaging is made without dyes or bleaches, meaning it can be composted more easily than other types of materials that contain harsh contaminants. We even offer soy-based inks that are 100% biodegradable, and much less harmful than their oil based alternatives. The high percentage of recycled components also means that paper requires less energy to make. Rather than producing boxes from 100% virgin materials, most paper mills make products from locally sourced recycled content—which also minimizes environmental damage caused by excessive transportation.  See some examples of post-consumer and recycled content of different corrugated board tests from our paper mills.

2013 Percentage of Recycled Fiber Content by Paper Supplier


Paper packaging is renewable and sustainable.

The foundation of paper packaging is the paper pulp, which is sourced from fast growing pine trees in sustainably managed forests located mainly in the Pacific Northwest of the United States. The pulp is also composed of manufacturing waste such as wood chips, and leftover material from other paper making processes. This infinite loop of use and reuse makes paper packaging much greener than other packaging alternatives.


Paper based packaging products are also reusable.

Paper based packaging is not only easily recyclable and renewable, it can also be reusable! Many corrugated cases, inserts, and slip-sheets are designed to be easily collapsible, and fully reusable.

If you have ever taken a trip to Sam’s Club, or Costco you will find that most boxes are not instantly trashed. There are many uses for corrugated packaging, as the material is known for being a solid, sturdy solution that can carry a range of weights—so cases can be reused for many times for many different purposes. For example, consumers can use boxes for storage, insulation, or floor covering. When corrugated finally reaches the end of its life cycle, consumers can simply recycle the material.


Corrugated boxes are the most efficient shipping option.

An interesting butterfly effect occurs when companies use efficient packaging solutions for their products. In fact, increasing efficiency in packaging is so important that Amazon announced last year that it would begin charging sellers a fee for products that do not comply with it’s FFPP guidelines. The goal of Amazon’s packaging program is to minimize cost and waste associated with oversized and unnecessary packaging. This announcement was not only good news for our planet, but it also reduces the energy involved in moving items through the Amazon distribution network. This type of streamlining can go a long way in reducing waste and emissions, especially for a company the size of Amazon. We have already covered how the manufacture of paper products is both environmentally friendly and efficient, now lets examine how their application also reduces waste. Firstly, boxes are usually rectangular, which means they can efficiently stack with little wasted space. This allows businesses to pack more products into a smaller space, reducing emissions and increasing efficiency. Secondly, corrugated boxes and inserts can be easily and cheaply customized to provide sufficient protection during transit. This is extremely important because, from a waste standpoint, there is nothing worse than a product damaged during delivery. A damaged product is sent back to the manufacturer, which now doubles the resources required for shipping, and the energy and materials that went into making the product are now at least a partial loss. Then, more energy and resources are required to rectify a problem, which could have been initially avoided with proper packaging.


In sum, companies that want to “go green,” should consider buying brown. It may seem like the humble brown box has become old hat in the 21st century, but they continue to prove their relevance as an efficient and ecological source of sustainable packaging.

Contact 5 Star packaging today to see what paper packaging options are available for your unique product needs.