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5 Sustainable & Innovative Packaging Alternatives That Cut Costs, Plastic & Carbon

5 Sustainable & Innovative Packaging Alternatives That Cut Costs, Plastic & Carbon

Here are five initiatives that have come up with innovative methods of making packaging sustainable, from seaweed to areca, bamboo, and more.

This article has been sponsored by Pernod Ricard India.

Packaging has been found to be a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions, with plastic and aluminium contributing the most — 3.50 kg and 2.32 kg carbon emissions per 1 kg of packaging respectively — followed by styrofoam, cardboard and paper. 

But then, packaging is also a necessary evil in the contemporary world, and the only option is to make it as sustainable as possible. Here are some initiatives that have come up with innovative methods of making packaging sustainable.

Pernod Ricard India

sustainable packaging by pernod ricard

In December 2022, global beverage brand Pernod Ricard announced the removal of permanent mono cartons from their packaging, as part of their initiative ‘#OneForOurPlanet’. 

Consumer research proved that one in two customers discard the mono carton right after purchasing, and hence packaging was found to be not really essential, they say.

Instead, they bolstered the outer cartons to ensure the strength of the packaging. The move, the company claims, will prevent carbon emissions of 7,310 tonnes every year, save 2.5 lakh trees, and reduce waste-to-landfill by 18,745 tonnes. 

The wine and spirits group also hopes to make 100 percent of their packaging recyclable, compostable or reusable by 2025, as well as employ the use of 40 percent recycled glass content by the same year. They also plan to reduce their overall carbon footprint by 50 percent by 2030.


sustainable packaging by zerocircle

Founded by ex-Google employee Neha Jain, Mumbai-based material science startup Zerocircle converts various species of seaweed into packaging, which, according to the founder, is completely dissolvable, home-compostable and bio-digestible. 

Seaweed does not require land, excess water, fertiliser or pesticide to grow, and comes with a low carbon footprint. Growing seaweed also offers livelihood options and the development of coastal communities, Neha explains. Zerocircle uses largely red, brown, and green seaweed that is dried and powdered, before being made into the final material. They currently make handbags, bags for clothes, film for food and other plastic alternatives, and aim to produce a tonne of film a day. 

EcoCushion Paper

sustainable packaging by ecocushion

EcoCushion Paper, a venture that sells eco-friendly honeycomb paper packaging to thousands of small businesses, was founded by Mahesh, Varsha and Naman Agarwal, a Mumbai-based family. 

An alternative to bubble wraps and plastic, honeycomb paper is made by cutting the paper in a specific pattern. The packaging is 100 percent recyclable and cost-efficient, and almost 3 million metres of plastic bubble have been reduced, the makers claim. 

It also saves up to 80 percent storage space, since it is thinner and can be compressed. EcoCushion paper is made using high-strength virgin kraft paper that won’t tear when stretched. Today, the honeycomb paper is being used by over 2,000 small, medium and large businesses across 28 states. These brands include 1MG, Trent Ltd (Westside), Nestle R&D, MARS Cosmetics and Aadvik Foods. 

The honeycomb paper retails for Rs 650 for a 100-metre roll and Rs 1,450 for a 250-metre roll. 

Dip-in Tiffin

sustainable packaging by dip in tiffin

Dip‐in Tiffin, founded by Srishti Garg, a project designer, uses containers made out of areca leaves in place of single-use food packaging used by restaurants. 

The containers are inspired by stackable lunch tiffin boxes, and the three-tiered design is a replica of the ones used by dabbawalas of Mumbai. 

The material is disposable, and travellers don’t need to carry used tiffin boxes home to reuse it each time. The areca leaves, which are easily available, take around 90 to 100 days to decompose, similar to paper packaging, says Srishti. 

The eco-friendly areca leaf bowls, which look like soup bowls, can be used not just for dry snacks, but also wet foods such as rasam and sambhar. Srishti plans to discuss the concept further with food chains and delivery partners on how the design can be made more user-friendly.


sustainable packaging by bambrew

Bambrew, a green tech sustainable packaging startup, was founded by Bengaluru-based Vaibhav Anant, with an intention to eradicate the use of Single-Use Plastic (SUP) straws. 

On learning that the packaging industry contributes to more than 55% of the plastic waste generated across the globe, which can neither be recycled nor decomposed, Vaibhav soon forayed into packaging. 

Bambrew utilises natural plant fibres and pulp to create viable and sustainable packaging alternatives to plastic. They began by curating various eco-friendly packaging products made from bamboo, sugarcane, and seaweed, which were handmade and sourced from tribal communities from across the country, but later switched to specialised machines to make it affordable and scalable. 

Today, they use pulp from bamboo and wood that are Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified. They produce more than 10 million mailer bags and boxes per month, and the company has tie-ups with numerous leading business entities like Amazon, Nykaa, 1MG, Puma, Chumbak, Big Basket, Myntra, Flipkart, Aditya Birla and Accessorize London. 

Edited by Divya Sethu

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