Looking Ahead at Sustainable Packaging Trends for 2020

A ball that is meant to look like Earth sits on the grass

At Pioneer Packaging, we believe that sustainability initiatives such as reducing waste, re-using and recycling materials, and lowering energy consumption are the fundamental responsibilities of everyone. In this day and age, it’s now more important than ever to go green where you can. 

Fortunately for the packaging industry, there are always new innovations and inventions arising to combat the typical wasteful packaging we’re used to; and 2020 is already off to an incredible start. Here’s what the new year – and beyond – may hold when it comes to environmentally friendly packaging products and alternatives.

Packaging Material Alternatives

Whether you’re the one opening up the package or the one filling it, you’ve likely seen a majority of the well-known, common packaging materials that are used. From styrofoam to plastic, there are various elements throughout our trade that could use some updating with a more sustainable design.


A perfect example of outdated packaging material? Those pesky styrofoam peanuts that fill your orders and offer protection from damage. While their purpose is practical, their carbon footprint certainly isn’t! According to the Green Business Bureau,  biodegradable packing peanuts are out there; and it appears various types and models of the product are being worked on all across the globe. For example, Science Daily stated that Washington State University researchers developed an environmentally-friendly, plant-based material that combines with water to create foam in 2019. You can also find packing peanuts made of starch that are easily dissolvable in water, leaving no trace or mess behind once you’re done. 

Last year, we wrote about a New York-based biotech startup, Ecovative, who came up with a material called mycelium – another biomaterial growing in popularity. According to CNN, Ecovative believes mycelium (what grows beneath the ground under mushrooms), is a perfect alternative to styrofoam or board-like packaging; and they’ve made it easy to ditch the disastrous fillers.

Bamboo Packaging

Because bamboo is a quickly growing plant, and can oftentimes be invasive, it’s an ideal material to use in packaging. Not only is it reusable and recyclable, but it’s also biodegradable and works for single-use instances when need be. Companies like Colgate have already made the switch, with a 100% bamboo toothbrush that’s completely plastic-free. Not to mention, bamboo can be sourced for a fiber that can also act as an alternative to packing peanuts or general filler. The material is even being used at the Best Western Opéra Liège in Paris, the first zero single-use plastic hotel in France. According to Business Traveler, everything from their keycards to their slippers incorporates bamboo. Versatile, right?

Compostable Packaging

More often than not, buying anything from food to beauty products means you’ll be left with an empty package or container at one time or another. And according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, personal consumption expenditures reached $14.799 trillion as of the fourth quarter of 2019. That’s a whole lot of leftover, empty packaging that needs to be disposed of! To combat such waste, employing compostable packaging is key. One example of the product is Purdue’s switch to compostable, water-soluble foam made out of cornstarch in their shipments. So whether you add it to your compost bin or run it under some water to dissolve completely, compostable packaging can disappear, perhaps even helping your personal garden in the process.

Packing Tape

What’s often overlooked, but extremely crucial to the packaging industry? Tape! From keeping your purchases from falling apart to maintaining your food’s freshness, tape is prevalent in all things packaging. Unfortunately, the material is typically made with non-biodegradable petroleum and plastic materials. Luckily there are a ton of alternatives out there you can immediately start implementing, like brown paper tape that can also be activated by water. The best part? These types of tape lessen plastic usage and keep the integrity of your package strong for much longer. So, next time you go to grab that roll of packing tape, reach for something a little more sustainable to seal it up.

Pioneer Packaging Can Help

We have hundreds of sustainable products available at Pioneer Packaging; and by using greener materials, we enable you to make better packaging choices. But beyond our supplies, we have the expertise needed to help you integrate them seamlessly into your business. From quality and durability to costs and processes, we are your partner in packaging. Plus, we are ready to help you continually look for ways to reduce, reuse, and recycle in your business – preparing you for a more sustainable future. 

Along with helping the environment, our sustainable packaging options are custom designed to enhance your brand, increase consumer awareness, and help your business grow by cutting costs and going green. Our available packaging materials and types include: 

  • Corrugated – recyclable and biodegradable
  • Chipboard – recyclable and biodegradable
  • Molded fiber wine shippers, made from 100% recycled content – recyclable
  • Recyclable loose-fill peanuts
  • Recyclable plastics and tapes
  • Natralock® paperboard packaging
  • Thermoformed PET packaging

By using sustainable packaging products we can be proud of the work we’re doing, feel even better about your products lining the shelves, and help communities head towards a more sustainable, green future.

We are committed to exceeding expectations and can’t wait to work on your product’s packaging. Contact us today for more information about all of our packaging solutions.

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