Blog Post

3 ways to make your Black Friday greener

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3D render of Black Friday packaging, including mailer boxes and plastic-free gummed tape.

Black Friday is exciting, but it’s increasingly (and rightly) been put under the spotlight for the packaging waste that comes with it. In fact, over 250m packages will be shipped in the UK following Black Friday and Cyber Monday, including over 11,000 tonnes of cardboard, paper and plastic.

If all this cardboard was flat packed and stacked on top of each other, it would be three times the height of The Shard. The number of mailer bags used could fill 99 Olympic-sized swimming pools and the amount of parcel tape could wrap around the equator — twice.

Whilst 74% of the cardboard will be recycled, these numbers highlight the importance of reducing waste and taking steps to be more sustainable this Black Friday. So, in this spirit, we’ve put together three ideas to help you reduce your environmental impact this week.

1. Small switches, big impact

Just finding the best deal on Black Friday can feel overwhelming. Add trying to reduce your carbon footprint and you can quickly find yourself paralysed by choice and conflicting information.

Luckily, when it comes to sustainability, it’s often the small switches that lead to big progress for your packaging.

For example, simply switching from PVC tape to recyclable gummed tape can reduce your carbon footprint by up to 50%. It’s also more durable — and cheaper. If you’re already shipping your products in paper-based packaging (like in a mailer box), this is an easy switch you can make to reduce your footprint without sacrificing performance. Plus you can proudly tell your customers that your tape is now plastic-free.

Another great example of a simple switch is from a premium mailer box to a digital print mailer box. In turn, you can reduce your carbon footprint again by up to 50%. This is partly because digital print mailer boxes use thinner paper stock, reducing paper usage by 40% and emissions by 16%. Digital print mailer boxes don’t boast the same luxury feel as a premium mailer box, but if you have simple artwork or you’re aiming for the most sustainable look — they’re perfect. Ours are also made here in the UK, meaning faster lead times and a smaller carbon footprint.

There are loads more examples, but as you can see, making your Black Friday more sustainable doesn’t have to be daunting. As Tesco famously says, “every little helps”.

2. Better data means better decisions

Data is the backbone of sustainability. Without it, it’s impossible to know how or where to focus your efforts. And it’s no different for your packaging this Black Friday. If you want to reduce waste and be more sustainable, data about your new packaging, its materials and its life cycle is vital. It’s this data that will help you decide between A and B packaging, understand the impact of different materials and uncover the biggest opportunities to reduce waste.

If finding this data sounds like a lot of work, it usually is — and it can take weeks. Not something that goes hand in hand with the Black Friday rush.

The good news is that we’ve done all the heavy lifting for you; calculating the carbon footprint of every product, material and component as well as the billions of variations of each product. We then surface all of that on the Sourceful platform, where you can see it in real time as you design your packaging. Meaning you have all the information you need to reduce waste and your carbon footprint at your fingertips. In turn, making more sustainable decisions is not only possible — it’s easy.

3. Make recycling simple

Choosing recyclable packaging is one of the best ways to reduce your impact this Black Friday.

But — there is a caveat.

You have to make it easy for your customers to recycle. And aside from the packaging itself, that means including clear material and disposal information. Without it, it’s unlikely your packaging will be recycled, even if your packaging is 100% recyclable. Let’s look back at our guide to more sustainable packaging for a deeper dive:

When it comes to helping customers learn how to recycle, clarity is everything. Recycling symbols are useful, but they shouldn't be the only information on your packaging. Unfortunately, there are hundreds of recycling symbols (seven for plastic resin alone), and as a result, most consumers don't know what symbol means what. In one study, only 44% of respondents correctly identified the universal recycling symbol.

What symbols should be paired with is additional information that clearly explains which materials are in the packaging and guidelines on what to do with them. Material information is arguably the most important, since consumers, no matter where they are in the world, can then find out what to do with a specific material in a specific area. And that maximises the chance of your packaging being recycled, or at the very least being disposed of properly.

As to guidelines, they should be just that. Anything too specific won't be accurate everywhere (especially if you ship internationally) and inaccurate recycling information can end up sending more packaging to landfill.

It’s this information — materials and written guidance on disposal — that’s the most important. If you’re looking for new packaging this week, make sure to include it when you’re designing your artwork.

Need help designing new packaging? Let’s chat

Making Black Friday greener

At a time when packaging waste from Black Friday can fill Olympic swimming pools and tower far above The Shard, making your Black Friday greener couldn’t be more important. As businesses, it’s our responsibility to do better for the planet. That said, it’s not just about being environmentally responsible. It's also a smart business decision in today's eco-conscious market. As Black Friday waste and packaging waste take centre stage in consumer discussions, taking the ideas above on board can set your brand apart and earn the goodwill of shoppers.

Get 10% off all custom packaging online and free carbon offsetting this Black Friday with the code BLACKFRIDAY. Don’t miss out — offer ends Monday 27th November at midnight.

Discover how we helped leading brands like ZOE and Hylo reduce their carbon footprint. Read all customer stories

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