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The Evolution and Trends of Sustainable Appliance Packaging

Updated: Nov 16, 2023

Appliance packaging

Over the years, the world has seen its fair share of appliance packaging. From wood to polystyrene and everything in between, companies are constantly trying to find new ways of improving the safety of appliances during transit.

Now, appliance brands have a new priority on their minds: sustainability.

Instead of focusing exclusively on packaging strength, companies are now trying to do their part for the planet by adopting appliance packaging materials that are both robust and environmentally friendly.

In this post, we’ll look at the evolution of sustainable appliance packaging as well as trends and solutions being innovated today.

The Current Challenges And Environmental Impacts Of Traditional Appliance Packaging Materials

There are several challenges and environmental impacts to consider when it comes to the wrapping and packaging of appliances. While smaller appliances like kettles, coffee machines, and toasters may not require as much packaging material, they still need protection, especially when in transit.

However, when it comes to appliances like refrigerators, freezers, and washing machines, the need for appliance packaging increases dramatically due to their size. Protecting heavier appliances requires more robust packaging that can withstand the demands of being moved around a warehouse, shipped long distances by rail, sea, or freight, and delivered to customers, all while remaining undamaged and unsoiled.

Plastic, polystyrene foam, bubble wrap, and acid-washed cardboard can be used for everything from kettle to fridge shipping or washing machine packaging. However, they all contribute to the mountainous landfills around our planet. These options do have long biodegradation timelines (some taking close to 500 years, like polystyrene), and can generate microplastics that end up in our waterways and negatively affect our marine ecosystems.

Some of the biggest challenges that appliance companies face today include:

1. Meeting CSR targets

Corporate Social Responsibility reports are crucial for successful companies today. However, in order to meet their targets, brands must find sustainable solutions for their supply chain processes, which will help them improve their overall emissions year over year.

2. Reducing material waste

Finding ways to reduce material waste is one of the best things any business can do to reduce their impact on the environment. But it can also be one of the hardest.

3. Finding appropriate solutions

Considering how new the concept of 100% sustainable packaging is, both big and small appliance companies may struggle to find solutions that are a truly good fit for their products, both physically and financially.

Fortunately, solutions to all of these common problems are coming in hot, and unlike most other things these days, it’s not due to global warming.

How Has Sustainable Appliance Packaging Evolved Over The Years?

Evolutionarily speaking, we are still in the relatively early days of sustainable appliance packaging.

Plastic and microplastics have long been the reigning champions of appliance packaging, but in the last decade or two, we’ve seen winning alternatives rise in popularity.

1. Compostables

Compostable, non-toxic materials like Cruz Foam are currently some of the best and most accessible solutions to the world’s taxing plastic problems. Packaging materials that can safely be broken down into soil are a great solution for small appliance packaging. Better yet, products like this actually add value to the soil.

2. Wood

When sustainably sourced, wood is a much more environmentally friendly packaging material to use when boxing appliances. It does not come from a finite source, which makes it a regenerative packaging material, as long as it is harvested responsibly.

3. Paper and cardboard

These two bio-based materials have become staple appliance packaging solutions due to their high ability to be recycled. However, only a small percentage of these materials actually get recycled, and when treated with acidic or toxic chemicals, they do not qualify for safe composting.

4. Advanced alternative naturals

Fast forward to today. There are sustainable material experiments happening everywhere. Pineapples, algae, fungi, and fruit are being used to produce creative new takes on sustainable packaging.

As a company, it can be difficult to find packaging materials that tick every box on your agenda. Between costs and product requirements, there are many different angles to consider.

For instance, if you need to transport a food processor, hoover, dishwasher, microwave, or any other appliance, finding a material solution that is altogether affordable, safe, and wholly sustainable can be challenging.

Fortunately, times are changing, and appliance packaging options are becoming more diverse than ever before.

The Latest Trends And Advancements In Sustainable Packaging Materials For Appliances

The relationship between sustainability and functionality is complex. However, thanks to enough time, creativity, and technological innovation, much progress has been made and continues to be made as you read this.

Some of the latest trends in sustainable appliance packaging come from brands like Cruz Foam. Either compostable or recyclable, all of Cruz Foam’s products can be relied on to return to a circular system.

Compostables, biodegradables, and materials made from natural fibers (such as cassava starch, chitin, mushrooms, and seaweed) are among the leading sustainability trends right now.

How Other Companies Have Adopted Sustainable Appliance Packaging

Despite the commonly perceived challenges of switching to sustainable appliance packaging, changing the way your business approaches this important component of product distribution is getting easier every day. Here are three examples of brands that have switched:

1. Electrolux Group

This world-renowned appliance brand has been working hard to reduce its environmental impact. In March 2023, they announced that they were using new recycled, paper-based Expanded PolyStyrene (EPS)-free packaging with 70% less ink for all their AEG and Electrolux small appliances. They’ve also been exploring EPS packaging alternatives for large appliances and will use more recycled and recyclable materials such as recycled cardboard, EPS, and polyethylene film in the future.

2. Samsung

In 2019, Samsung swapped its home appliance packaging for more eco-friendly options such as bio-based and recycled paper and plastics. In 2022, they announced that one of their sustainability initiatives would be the use of eco-packaging boxes for a wider range of appliances. These shipping boxes use recycled materials as interior packaging and can be upcycled into small furniture once their purpose as packaging is fulfilled.

It is through the example of bigger appliance brands such as these that smaller ones will be empowered to make more environmentally responsible decisions when it comes to packaging. The more normalized it becomes, the more accessible these materials and ideas can evolve to be.

A More Eco-Friendly Future For Appliance Packaging

Despite how long it has taken the world to realize its mistakes around the heavy use of environmentally taxing packaging materials, progress is being made every day.

Along with many other sustainability-oriented brands around the world, Cruz Foam is participating in the global revolution of circular materials. Compostables are changing the world with their ability to biodegrade within months. This allows appliance businesses of every size and scale to progress into a new age of planet-friendly material resources that contribute to a greener future.

If you’re looking for sustainable appliance packaging, talk to Cruz Foam about how we can help you package your appliances in a more eco-friendly way.

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