The packaging you've helped design for your company is beautiful, sustainable, and helps boost brand visibility. But what happens to those boxes and bags after they leave your stores or warehouse? Do your customers just toss the boxes into the trash?
You've made sure that you company uses sustainable packaging, but if you're not encouraging customers to recycle and reuse their packaging, you're only getting half the job done.
Your company's efforts to encourage customer recycling will benefit your business in very distinct ways.
- You'll gain the respect of your peers and other businesses
- You'll gain customer respect and brand loyalty
- You'll increase your business's sustainability
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently published a "toolkit" for municipalities looking to implement citywide recycling programs, and their comments on building community support are valuable for designing your own program.
"Community support is another major key in developing and maintaining a successful program. Participation is the key to low contamination and high participation rates. Outreach can make or break a program!"
Examples from Industry Giants
One of the best ways to understand how you can use customer recycling initiatives to benefit the planet, as well as your business is through an examination of case studies of recent efforts by billion-dollar corporations to encourage customer recycling.
If you're not convinced yet that creating a campaign to encourage customer recycling is a good idea, consider the efforts by Wal-Mart to get people to buy compact fluorescent light bulbs. According to an article on sustainability from Earth 2017:
"From 2005 through 2010 Walmart has sold 460 million CFL lightbulbs that have saved their customers $15 billion in utility costs eliminating emissions equivalent to 25 million cars."
Wal-Mart takes a lot of heat for its corporate reputation, but it's not surprising that the retail giant would take a step like the above to encourage customers to change their buying habits.
Wal-Mart scores a triple-play with this strategy as they improve their profits, reduce the energy costs of their customers, and help reduce everyone's impact on the environment.
Another huge corporate entity which has used recycling to its benefit is Coca-Cola, which implemented a rewards program in the United Kingdom in 2013. The company asked customers to submit recycling pledges and ideas for connecting with nature during the summer break.
In return, customers would receive coupons for Coca-Cola drinks. The company called their campaign, "Don't Waste. Create," and was designed to help improve customer sentiment about the company at a time when the use of plastic bottles has become a hot-button issue worldwide.
Big box home improvement store Lowe's recently made a foray into customer recycling efforts when it ran a pilot program to recycle plastic at 22 different stores that had garden centers. According to the company's release on the program:
"Lowe's recycled 230,000 pounds of plastic in just three months during a pilot test in which 22 stores collected plastic pots, trays and tags that are used with live nursery items."
With the success of that pilot program, the company expanded it to all the stores in the continental U.S. The company's reasoning for the program was that many customers would just throw out their plastic containers after buying plants because of a lack of local recycling opportunities.
With their program, Lowe's clearly saw an opportunity to show the company's efforts at corporate sustainability by encouraging customers to recycle their plastic containers.
Don't Just Recycle. Think Sustainably
You've seen the crazy packaging for some items in the grocery store that looks like a bag inside a box inside a bag. Hopefully, your packaging is already designed sustainably, but you should revisit your company's packaging on a regular basis to see if you can improve the effectiveness of your company's eco-friendly efforts.
Remember: If you can, try to avoid using plastic in your company's packaging. Sure, you can get your customers to recycle their plastic, but plastic can never truly be "recycled." All that can be done is that plastic waste is converted into other products.
According to the Plastic Pollution Coalition:
"Collecting plastics at curbside fosters the belief that, like aluminum and glass, these will be converted into new similar objects. This is not the case with plastic. The best we can hope for plastics is that these will be turned into other products such as doormats, textiles, plastic lumber, etc. These products will still end at some point in the landfill – and do not stem the need for more virgin petroleum product."
Start a Plan Today to Encourage Recycling
Recycling a can here or there and taking your bottles to the recycling plant is a great way to reduce your impact on the environment. However, you can recycle an extraordinary number of things at your office, and you can also make a huge, positive impact by encouraging your customers to reuse or recycle your company's packaging.
Your brand will also benefit from sustainable packaging options from Howard Packaging. If your business is interested in using modern packaging solutions that reduce your company's impact on the environment, let us know! Find out what we can do for your business. Request a Free Catalog and Sample Kit Today!