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9 Top Sustainable Packaging Trends of 2023

9 Top Sustainable Packaging Trends of 2023

Sustainability is growing momentum in 2023 for the packaging industry, as many businesses worldwide are looking to further limit their carbon footprint and maximize recyclability. As a result, many of these businesses are looking to adopt new methods and packaging material to address their packaging’s sustainability.

Why is Sustainable Packaging Important in 2023?

Sustainable packaging is more important than ever due to society’s growing interest in preserving the environment. As a result, there are increasing number of regulations being imposed on businesses to further their efforts on sustainability, packaging being one of the top concerns.


In California, Governor Gavin Newsom has passed a law that will being out single use plastics. In addition, California will require all packaging to be recyclable or compostable by the year 2032, cutting plastic packaging by 25 percent and requiring 65 percent of all single use plastics to be recycled.

In 2022, New York had placed a ban on the use expanded polystyrene foam containers and packaging peanuts.

Several states have banned the use of single use plastic bags and have also restricted or banned PFAs in food packaging.

What To Expect from New Packaging Regulations

Many businesses are being pushed to change the way they package their products. Usually, this is by optimizing the amount of material used to package their product. Other companies are being pushed to adopt more sustainable packaging material.

Often, many businesses are finding themselves making the choice between sustainability and quality packaging. This is creating increasing pressure on packaging providers to develop innovative solutions to adopt cleaner and sustainable packaging methods and materials in producing products.

Here are 9 ways businesses and suppliers are adjusting to sustainability in the packaging world.

  1. Lightweight Packaging
  2. Reusable Packaging
  3. Refillable Parent Packaging
  4. Sustainable Ink
  5. Bioplastics
  6. Carbon Labeling
  7. Plastic To Paper Packaging
  8. Downsizing
  9. Wash Off Labels

Lightweight Packaging

Today, companies are looking to become more efficient with their packaging by reducing materials required, manufacturing costs and becoming more sustainable. Luckily, with lightweight packaging, this has been a growing option by brands looking to create a lightweight product than previous versions.

For example, pouches are typically made with 3 films, an outer layer which is printed on, middle layer acts as a barrier and inner layer is a sealant. Today, packaging suppliers are now looking to limit the number of films to 2 and possibly even 1 with innovative methods, material alternatives and advanced technology.

Lightweight packaging reduces its environmental impacts by limiting potential waste in landfills in addition lowering transportation loads.

custom Multi sku folding carton shelf boxes

Reusable Packaging

Many brands are looking to ditch single use to multi-use packaging to cut down on material costs and environmental impact. Reusable packaging encourages end users from disposing of a package after use, as it can be returned or salvaged for additional use.

Multi-use packages limit the burden on the environment by limiting waste, material production and pollution. For example, shipping bags are now manufactured to be used more than once.

Refillable Parent Packaging

Refillable packaging containers are a growing trend that helps support zero waste initiatives. This is done by having merchants provide product in bulk, while customers bring their empty refillable containers and have them filled with products.

For example, cleaning supplies and personal products have become more available this way. Suppliers are selling raw materials by placing them into customers refillable containers.

Refillable parent packaging is sustainable by limiting transportation and the manufacturing of excess material.

Sustainable Ink

Many companies have made efforts in creating their packaging with sustainable material. However, it does not always turn out that way, when you apply graphics and print to a package. Typically, graphics are made with petroleum-based inks, which contain a variety of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that are hazardous to the environment.

Today many companies are beginning to focus on more sustainable ink options by utilizing soya and vegetable-based inks, which are known to be biodegradable, easier to process during recycling and less likely to release harmful substances into the environment once disposed of.

Companies do not have to fear on sacrificing on the quality of ink as these sustainable inks still can provide you with a high-quality print.


Bioplastics are becoming a growing alternative for plastic packaging applications as technology advances and research for sustainable packaging. They are made from renewable resources such as sugar cane or cone, which are biobased. When disposed of, bioplastics break down naturally since they are biodegradable. As a result, these biodegradable plastics help reduce the amount of waste sent to landfills.

custom biodegradable poly bag

Carbon Labeling

Another popular trend is adding carbon labeling to packaging, which helps consumers identify carbon dioxide emissions created as a byproduct of manufacturing, transporting, or disposing of a product. Ultimately, it identifies the environmental consequences of the product, which can help consumers become more aware of their purchases for more sustainable products.

Plastic To Paper

Many businesses in the food, beverage, personal care, ecommerce and many other industries are ditching their flexible plastic packaging for paper packaging. Flexible paper packaging is a new innovative solution due to technological advances that enables manufactures to develop a more environmentally friendly alternative to plastic.

It is a more cost effective and lightweight, as it requires less materials to produce. Flexible packaging paper can be made to provide products with desired strength, stiffness and sealing properties. Which makes it useful in preventing products from being spoiled or contaminated such as food, beverages and pharmaceuticals.

Not only is flexible paper packaging more sustainable than plastic, it has been a great alternative to other packaging products such as rigid boxes, corrugated boxes and folding cartons.


Companies that sell perishable products with a short shelf life such as food, beverage, personal care products have been downsizing their product. Downsizing enables companies to provide smaller versions of original products. This enables them to cut down on material costs and product waste.

Custom Food Pouch size variety

Wash Off Labels

Packaging materials can always be labeled as 100% recyclable and sustainable, however that does not always translate to the labels you attach to your packaging. For example, Polyethylene (PET) is a recycled plastic, but is often used with non-compatible labels, which makes it more difficult to recycle the packaging as it needs to be separated from the label.

As a result, many brands are looking to shift their labels to bio, soy or vegetable-based inks and adhesives for labels that easily wash off plastics. This approach makes it much easier for companies to recycle and preserve the environment.

Summary: Sustainable Packaging Trends of 2023

Many companies are looking to adjust to society’s norms and laws of being more sustainable. As a result, there are many different growing trends in the packaging industry on how businesses are looking to package their products in order to become more sustainable.

Often, they are looking to optimize their packaging by making lightweight, reusable and refillable, in addition to utilizing more clean and recyclable materials such as bioplastics, paper, small products and wash off labels. Some companies have even made the effort of educating consumers with carbon labeling.

All of these approaches should be considered by your company when looking to package your products, as it can help you become more sustainable to the environment and accepted by consumers and governments.

If you are interested in sustainable packaging solutions, then partner with Brown Packaging today.

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