The Business Benefits of Environmentally Friendly Packaging
By Marcus Hill, Founder and MD of London Bio Packaging
Developing an ethical supply chain that includes sustainable packaging can bring about far-reaching business benefits. Environmental responsibility is not at odds with profitability; in fact, it can help you to build your brand, win new contracts and safeguard the business’ reputation.
Whilst the majority of food and catering businesses agree that eco packaging is a ‘nice to have’, some believe that the cost is going to be prohibitive. But environmentally friendly packaging has become significantly more affordable in recent years – ‘eco’ is no longer shorthand for ‘expensive’. The economies of scale mean that companies like London Bio Packaging are able to offer increasingly competitive prices, owing to greater demand. We are also continuing to develop new methods and materials to lower the cost of recycled and compostable packaging.
It’s not all about product cost, however –switching to recycled and compostable packaging can add real value to your business and actually make you money. In order to assess the true impact and ROI of bringing sustainability into your business, it’s necessary to look at the bigger picture. Here’s a run-down of just a few of of the lesser-known business benefits…
Good Will = Advocacy = Sales
Today’s consumers and businesses are demanding more of the companies that they spend money with. Businesses are no longer judged solely on the quality of their products and services; supply chains and corporate ethics are increasingly influencing purchasing behaviour. And the company that you keep is just as important as the way you behave – put simply, if your suppliers are unethical, then, by association, so are you.
In this context, companies that are seen to be making responsible choices and giving back to the global community are flourishing, whilst brands whose ethics aren’t considered up-to-scratch are being publicly chastised.
By considering sustainability and making environmentally responsible choices for your business, you can harness the good will felt towards companies that ‘do good’ and create an army of passionate advocates who will do all they can to sell your business for you.
In response to the new digital landscape and growth of social media, marketers are increasingly putting advocacy at the centre of sales driving activity. According to Nielsen’s latest Global Trust in Advertising report, 92% of consumers trust recommendations from friends and family above all other forms of advertising. It follows that making meaningful connections with people is key to any successful marketing campaign. And to do this, you need to prove that your business is about more than just making money.
Showing that you care is one of the most simple and powerful ways of making people care about your business. By making environmentally responsible choices (such as switching to eco packaging), and making these choices public, you give consumers something to make an emotional connection with.
High-street names such as Waitrose have also done a great job of promoting the relationships between ethical business and quality over the past decade. Thanks to them, many are now happy to pay a little more for a product or service that is environmentally and ethically sound.
In today’s digital world, there’s no such thing as a secret. Customers and competitors have greater access than ever to information about your business, and more channels on which to share it. Reputations can therefore be destroyed in a matter of hours – all it takes is for one questionable policy or unethical link in your supply chain to be exposed online for a full-blown crisis to develop.
Take KFC as an example. They claimed to use 100% sustainable material in their packaging, yet this was heavily (and publicly) disputed by Greenpeace for months, before their hand was more-or-less forced into ruling out the supplier in question.
Of course, this situation could have been avoided – and dealing with the issue was no doubt incredibly costly.
While it’s true that in business, what gets measured gets done, you can’t put a price on a managed reputation. Thinking about sustainability and working it into your supply chain now, before an issue arises, could potentially save the company a great deal of money in the long term.