As society continues to become more fast paced, consumers increasingly value speed and precision. Increasingly, consumers are prioritizing speed and convenience over wholesale value. Essentially, they want easy and quick ways to withdraw and use a single serving of a product.
More and more, packaging executives all over the world are capitalizing on this new trend.
“It’s a lot about convenience,” like portability and on-the-go functionality, says Brian Wagner, VP of Consulting Services at Packaging Technology Integrated Solutions for HAVI Global Solutions. Essentially, consumers nowadays are more likely to buy a product if it is packaged in smaller units that contain one use because the process of opening and using such a product is more focused on utility and speed rather than storage capability.
Very soon, however, the impacts of single-use packaging become apparent. The rise of the sheet mask, a single-use cloth or paper mask that simply rests on your skin until it dries, calls to mind an uncomfortably wasteful truth – single-use packaging means that nearly every time the product is consumed, something is inevitably thrown away.
While extremely lucrative, the rush to create products that are neatly divided into serving sizes means the implications of increased packaging waste are often overlooked. What often isn’t clear at first glance is that single serve packages actually have the potential to improve a company’s carbon footprint: “In the case of single-service coffee pods, manufacturers can offer an alternative. Using bioplastics or biodegradable resins to create packaging has led to a compostable coffee pod.” This coffee pod produces no more waste than its plastic equivalent and even breaks down in landfills.
The innovation doesn’t stop there. Mars Drinks (a division of the candy company Mars Bars), has realized this and scrutinized its coffee pod packaging production process. They determined that the raw material extraction of aluminum for the package was the most inefficient part of the process, so they eliminated aluminum from the package entirely.
With the increase in packaging waste, some brands are going the extra mile to minimize their impact on the environment. Mars Drinks also actively encourages their customers to recycle their product’s packaging waste through their Recycle Your Freshpacks program which offers North Americans the chance to divert 100% of their Mars Drinks waste from landfills; consequently, Mars Drinks has seen a 312% increase in waste diverted from landfills since 2011.
Companies should always work to innovate and streamline their packaging processes. Single serve packages offer a unique opportunity for innovative and sustainable designs. With more packaging being created than ever, it is essential that these designs be optimized for sustainability. This means choosing the best materials and evaluating designs for environmental impact from a life cycle perspective. The best way to do this is by evaluating designs with a streamlined LCA solution like COMPASS. With COMPASS you can view detailed packaging environmental impacts to choose better materials and facilitate sustainable packaging designs.