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5 reasons why our flexible packaging is sustainable

Sustainability is not just a trend of the moment: citizens, consumers, companies and companies will make more and more choices that consider the environmental impact of products and actions

But understanding what is sustainable - or better, if one choice is more or less sustainable than another - is not easy at all. Sustainability is not only related to a material, such as plastic, or to the energy consumed or even to the CO2 released into the atmosphere. To understand how sustainable a product is, you have to follow it throughout its life cycle and in all its relationships - from when it is created in the factory to when it needs to be disposed of.

This new perspective is based on a complex methodology called Life Cycle Assessment. Today we try to use it to tell you about the life cycle and environmental impact of a Packstyle stand-up pouch, a very used and practical type of flexible packaging.

We will find that compared to other types of packaging the stand-up bag is much more sustainable because it uses less resources, is less cumbersome and reduces waste.

Less resources to produce 

Let’s start from our factory where we make the stand-up pouches. How many resources are used to produce it? Several studies have shown that less raw materials, less energy and less water are used to produce flexible packaging than other types of packaging. And as a result, less Co2 is emitted into the atmosphere. 

We compare our stand-up envelope with a tin can. To produce the jar, we consume sixteen times more water and four times more fossil fuels (among other things, as we will tell you, we have instead chosen renewable sources), producing six times more CO2 emissions. 

Why does it take less resources? The main reason is because... it’s light. Its lower weight and composition mean that less material and less energy is used to produce flexible packaging. 

Less space in transport 

Thanks to technology and ideas, we can make many processes more efficient and therefore less expensive for the customer and... for the environment. Even flexible packaging does its part, let’s see how. 

The stand-up bags produced by Packstyle leave the factory to reach the customer: flexible materials are sent flat or in rolls. This allows many more to be transported: according to the Flexible Packaging Association, double and up to 30 times more empty flexible packaging can be carried than other types of packaging like cans, bottles or hard plastic containers. 

Let’s have a look at the transport of the packaged product to the distribution or to the final customer. Also in this case, using flexible packaging, it is possible to transport more products: in fact, the bags are better suited to the available space than other types of packaging. 

What does all this mean? Less trucks used and less Co2 produced during transport. This also makes flexible packaging sustainable.

Less waste and unexpected events 

"Do not waste!" seems the old saying of the sharp grandmother, but it is also one of the dogmas of sustainability. Flexible packaging reduces waste in many ways. 

Let’s take for example a flat bag containing fresh fruit: certain flexible packaging allow excellent storage, so we have less waste of food. But we will talk later about that. 

In addition, the low print runs that Packstyle is able to offer thanks to digital printing allow even low quantities to be printed. This way you do not run the risk that something changes (in the regulations or simply in the market) and not be able to use the packaging already made and printed. 

What could change? For example, in the case of food products, the regulations on the mandatory information to be displayed may change. Or the company itself may decide to change the ingredients of the product. In these cases, thanks to the short runs there is certainly less waste of printed material ([link article 03] other advantages of short runs in packaging we will tell you here [/ link article 03]). 

Finally, the flexible material is very resistant and there is less risk of damage during transport. This also means: less damage and less waste

Longer life of the product 


Food waste is one of the main causes of greenhouse gas emissions. Just think about it: we use energy to produce food and transport it... and then we have to throw it away. Globally, if food waste were a real country, it would be the third most polluting country behind China and the United States.

Thanks to different technologies and solutions, we are increasingly able to make food last longer, keeping it fresh and thus reducing food waste. Flexible packaging is one of these technologies and allows solutions such as active packaging

Let’s take an example: a properly packed cheese in special types of flexible packaging extends its duration from 7 to 180 days. This is also sustainability! 

Less packaging to throw away 

We have already seen how often greater efficiency is equivalent to better sustainability. 

A measure of the efficiency of the packaging is how much of an item sold to the consumer is product and how much of it is packaging. The less packaging there is, the better it is for the environment: in fact, with the same "delivered" product, there are fewer waste and residues. 

Here the flexible packaging is practically unbeatable. Let’s take the example of a box of coffee. 

  • In a tin can, the packaging will make up 30% of the package, the rest is coffee.
  • In a plastic container, the packaging will make up 17%.
  • In the stand-up bag, the packaging will be only 4%, with 96% of coffee.

Sustainable does not mean perfect 

Of course, flexible packaging, like all other types of packaging from glass to plastic, is not without sustainability issues. In particular, the sustainability issues for flexible packaging concern disposal.

At the moment there are few options for disposal, some of these packaging are not recyclable and the current recycling facilities are not yet able to handle this waste. There is certainly a lot to do to improve the situation and in Packstyle we start to do our part by offering solutions for recyclable packaging. 

So as we’ve seen... there’s always a downside. Sustainability is a complex business and certainly does not depend on a single aspect (if you want to learn more, here is a long report on the sustainability of flexible packaging from which we took the data for this article). We have to tell the truth, things are even more complicated than we have told you, and often the variables on sustainability are so many that in some cases it is difficult to say with certainty what is more sustainable. Today, however, we hope to have given you a new perspective, more aware, from which to look at sustainability.  And that you will also look with more conscious eyes at flexible packaging!

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