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Packaging revolution: It’s now or never


Published: May 20, 2024

Published By: Fast Company

Written By: Cruz Foam Co-Founder & CEO, John Felts

View the Full Story Here


When it comes to the ocean, surfers are the canaries in the coal mine. We’re among the first ones seeing the impact humans have on the ocean. As a surfer myself, I have a deep connection to the ocean and its energy. The ocean is the heart of this planet. Like many surfers, I feel a strong drive to protect it. 


It’s ironic that surfboards—the vessels that connect us with this force of nature—are made of polystyrene, which hurts the planet we love so much. Polystyrene foam and other materials are also prevalent in our packaging supply chain; they are irreversibly damaging life on this planet.

This damage trickles down to our landfill and recycling systems. Because recycling is difficult to scale and wastes the potential of usable materials, it results in value loss for individuals and businesses. At the end of day, most trash either ends up in landfills or polluting waterways. 


PRODUCT PACKAGING MATTERS


Isaac Newton’s third law says that “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” We achieved extraordinary things in the past century, but there was a reaction: waste and the problem of disposing of it.


According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the average American generates 4.9 pounds of waste per person daily or 1,789 pounds annually. On a global basis, supply chains generate even larger amounts of waste as a byproduct. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) says that the average American is responsible for approximately 487 pounds of plastic waste annually. If we reduce the amount of plastic and other waste in the packaging supply chain, we can make huge strides for the environment and a healthier planet. 


There is good news. Humanity now has newer material technologies. They increasingly reduce the need to throw out or recycle consumer waste.


SUSTAINABLE OPTIONS


Sustainable packaging and biomaterial packaging help the consumer economy work in harmony with the planet at scale. Innovative packaging materials reduce the need for landfill and recycling in the first place. Material science has evolved over the past century and it should benefit the environment, especially with the increase in shipping and e-commerce.


A number of packaging companies offer these sustainable options, including Cruz Foam, Ecovative, Sway, and BioBag. The new product packaging approach emphasizes conscientious packaging and decision-making that will lead to a more sustainable global future. A CPG sustainability report showed that 92% of consumers expressed the importance of sustainability when considering what brands to buy and half of consumers would be willing to pay more for sustainable packaging, according to McKinsey. 


DON’T GET LEFT BEHIND


We need viable businesses that take the environment and people’s well-being into account while also being wildly successful. Humanity matters. Nature matters. Business matters.

We have seen industries fail because of stagnation and failure to innovate. Businesses that don’t innovate get left behind. Stakeholders need to be involved if we want to move product packaging toward a sustainable future. 


We already know that businesses that make more sustainable business decisions see better returns


Because our modern consumer economy generates so many goods, it’s especially important to align the way products are packaged and shipped with the wellbeing of our planet. There’s no reason to choose between saving the environment and having a booming consumer economy. If we embrace conscientious packaging that doesn’t need to be landfilled or recycled, we will make huge strides towards a greener, more constructive future.



John Felts is cofounder and CEO of Cruz Foam.


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