Eco-Friendly Unboxing

by David Molo March 06, 2020

The moment your package arrives on the customer’s doorstep and the precious contents you’ve worked so hard to create are revealed, it’s crucial the packaging on the outside reflects the same innovation and care put into the product inside. If you’re selling products to conscious consumers who expect environmental sustainability, you don’t have to compromise a fantastic customer experience when prioritizing eco-friendly packaging.

Each year Americans throw away an estimated $11.4 billion worth of packaging that could be disposed of more responsibly. By keeping the following tips in mind when choosing packaging for your product, you’ll delight your customers with a memorable unboxing experience while minimizing environmental impact and staying true to the sustainability goals of your business.

1. Upcycle: Reduce your carbon footprint by choosing packaging that can easily be repurposed.

Give your packaging a second life. One of the unexpected benefits of our cardboard paper tubes is how easily they can be repurposed in several creative ways. Pencil holders, piggy banks, and bird feeders are clever ways many customers have given our environmentally friendly packaging a second chance. Made with high-quality materials, sturdy construction, and unique eye-catching designs, our paper tube packaging ensures constant branding for you far beyond the life of the product, without ever needing to end up in the trash. Positioned prominently on your customer's desk, kitchen, or countertop, your packaging will provide constant word of mouth marketing while attracting attention during its second life.


2. Biodegradable vs. Compostable: Is there a difference?

As more consumers lean toward supporting businesses that prioritize environmentally responsible practices, the tendency for exaggeration in marketing promises is all too common. Compostable materials used to refer exclusively to farm practices and the table scraps repurposed to amend soil in home gardens. Now it’s increasingly common for your takeout meal to include “compostable” utensils or cups. The problem is that to be truly compostable, the material must break down in a single composting cycle with no toxic residue. In order to meet these criteria, compostable packaging must be made from a single natural source with no coating, ink, wax, or dye that could linger in the soil once broken down.

It’s also true that everything that is compostable is also biodegradable. The reverse, however, is not. It’s likely that packaging labeled “compostable” to appeal to eco-conscious consumers is technically just biodegradable. These items will eventually decompose and return to the earth but make no promise about how long the process will take, the temperature and moisture conditions required, or if any harmful toxins may be leached in the process. Keep in mind that composting is a process that requires effort to execute. Due to the high-quality customization many of our customers desire, not all of our paper tubes may be compostable. They are, however, most definitely biodegradable. Use the table below to see how long the materials in your packaging might take to break down:


Source for chart data: Wikipedia

3. Recyclable: Good intentions will only get you so far.

We’ve been taught that the Mobius arrows with a number in the triangle mean good things, and sometimes that’s true. The fact is that the little recycle icon means the material (usually plastic) can be recycled “somewhere.” However, it’s also important to remember that just because the material is recyclable doesn’t mean that’s where it will end up. The EPA estimates that although 75% of the waste stream in our country is recyclable, only about 30% of it ever gets recycled. Recycling is dependent upon the awareness and resourcefulness of the end-user. While using recyclable packaging, make it easy for customers to do the right thing. Give them clear instructions on how to make sure your packaging ends up in the right place. 

Up until recently, China was the world’s largest importer of recyclable material. In 2018, their Operation Green Fence initiative signified the beginning of a harsh new reality, severely reducing the amount of waste material accepted from other countries. As a result we must seriously reconsider our domestic recycling infrastructure, as lower demand for secondary raw materials will make it significantly harder to use recycling as the end game. Environmentally savvy consumers today know that the ultimate value is found in adopting a zero-waste mentality. Packaging that is beautifully designed using high-quality paper materials doesn’t need to end up in the waste stream. Worst case, if the packaging does end up in a landfill, using easily biodegradable materials will ensure the environmental impact is minimized. You can support your customer’s efforts to decrease their carbon footprint with more responsible options.

4. Post-Consumer Recycled/FSC-Certified Paper: Go the extra mile without tarnishing your brand image.

When it comes to choosing materials that support the sustainability goals of your company and the values of your customers, post-consumer recycled paper is an excellent choice. However, significant compromises must be made on quality and brand image to achieve this lofty goal. Print quality tends to be poor when using high post-consumer papers, which will diminish the look and feel of your products. In order to elevate your brand, along with the extra-special unboxing experience your customer wants, using packaging made from Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified materials will align your sales goals with your sustainability goals. These high-quality, responsibly sourced materials will reflect the brand image you’ve worked so hard to develop.



The packaging you choose doesn’t have to be expensive, harmful, or boring. Reinforce your business’s commitment to sustainability and elevate the customer experience with affordable, eco-friendly, on-brand packaging that sets your product apart. At Paper Tube Co. we prioritize FSC-certified paper in our products and offer biodegradable laminations and linings. A portion of our profits each year also support OneTreePlanted to aid reforestation efforts around the world. 

To learn more about materials and packaging waste in the U.S., visit the  Facts and Figures page of the EPA website.

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