3 Innovations in Sustainable Packaging

A lot of our clients run packaging machines. Rexroth motion control is known for a perfect balance of precision and power, which is what you need for packaging. But consumers also want sustainable packaging, and that has become top of mind for manufacturers and printers alike.

Do consumers really want sustainable packaging?

Americans are becoming more environmentally conscious. Packaging is particularly concerning to many. A pre-pandemic survey found that ocean plastic was the biggest concern for 65% of those surveyed. A more recent survey found that 87% wanted brands to reduce their plastic use. But 62% of consumers would rather be able to recycle plastic packaging than have plastic banned.

Only about 2% of plastic actually gets recycled. Many consumers aren’t aware of this. The focus on recycling has masked the problem for many of us. Still, a majority of consumers say they’d pay more for sustainable products.

Coffee in a tea bag

Would you use a tea bag with coffee in it? That’s one sustainable packaging idea. While Nespresso pods are recyclable (send them back to the company for free), Keurig cups have to be deconstructed first. You just take the K-cup apart into all its component parts, compost the coffee grounds, and sort the remaining separate pieces into the proper recycling bins.


Then coffee bags might be for you. Serious Eats says you need different methods for coffee and tea, and has the science to back it up, But thee are several companies making coffee tea bags, and they claim their products are more sustainable.

Recyclable toothpaste tubes

Toothpaste tubes are usually made from a combination of aluminum and plastic. The materials can’t be separated, so they can’t be recycled.

If you buy your toothpaste in France, though, you will soon be able to choose recyclable tubes.

Once again, this isn’t really brand new, even though the makers are rolling it out as an innovation. Colgate and Tom’s of Maine currently sell recyclable tubes in the U.S. The challenge is first, figuring out which tubes can be recycled and second, making sure that this tubes are made of a type of plastic that is recycled in your community.

Colgate does have a special recycling program that allows you to drop off or mail in all rands of toothpaste tubes.

Drop-off recycling

It’s not just Nespresso and Colgate. Making packages recyclable is a challenge, but recyclable in your community can be even more of a challenge. It’s different from one town to another, so new packaging is sometimes recyclable — ut only in theory. This kind of greenwashing doesn’t work as well with today’s consumers as it used to.

So providing recycling services can put brands ahead. One company taking this route is Ocean Spray. Their new “craisin” packaging is a stand-up pouch that can be dropped off at a recycling station in the store where consumers buy it.

This bypasses the curbside issue, but it also requires a big commitment. Smaller manufacturers might not have the option.

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