EcoEnclose’s Vision for Sustainable Packaging
EcoEnclose believes in a future where humans and the earth are thriving together, where humans are a net positive contributor to our planet and humanity. In this future, leading ecommerce brands are a sustainable and regenerative force for the environment.
We see this future driven by a circular economy and regenerative materials production. We imagine a day when goods are endlessly recycled or reused, and that any virgin materials are made from regenerative resources whose production actually strengthens soils, waterways, habitats, air quality, and local communities. In this future, every single piece of packaging can be and is recycled, so no materials and resources are wasted and no packaging ends up as litter and in oceans. In this future, the energy fueling manufacturing and distribution of this products and packaging is from renewable sources.
Read on to learn more about the two main components of our Vision for Sustainable Packaging.
Click here for our Decision Making Framework For Sustainable Packaging. This framework guides how we develop, improve and select our packaging options today, to ensure we are making constant progress towards achieving our long-term vision.
Materials Circularity: “Endlessly Recycled and Reused”
The average American goes through 4.5 lbs of waste daily, of which 30% is packaging. Most of the world’s packaging is made with plastic, aluminum, glass and paper. In 2019, the rate of post consumer waste in packaging among the largest brands in the US was just 6.2%. After being used just once, about 50% of this packaging is then landfilled, destining these raw materials to be wasted forever.
Our envisioned future is drastically different: packaging is constantly being reused, recycled and put back into new packaging materials. In this future:
- Recycled post-consumer content is ubiquitous, leading to all recycled goods getting purchased, reclaimed and remanufactured
- Packaging is reused as often as it can be before then being recycled
- True recycling (rather than downcycling) is economically preferred for all materials. Consumers and companies are achieving a 100% recycling rate.
- Source reduction is an innate part of all product development and packaging decisions
Achieving this long-term vision requires investments across every aspect of the recycling and remanufacturing supply chain. Manufacturers, product and packaging companies must invest in capabilities and equipment that enable them to use as much recycled content (and post-consumer content in particular). Consumers must be fully educated on how to recycle effectively and incentivized to recycle everything they possibly can. Materials Recovery Facilities (MRFs) and other single stream recyclers must invest in the equipment, people and processes that allow for the cleanest and most comprehensive sorting possible.
We recognize that business actions alone cannot achieve this vision. Legislative action, community investments, and consumer advocacy are also essential.
EcoEnclose’s primary role in achieving this long-term vision is to invest in constantly increasing the recycled content (and post-consumer waste) rates in our own offerings, promoting high rates of recycling, and encouraging reuse whenever possible. However, we know there is more we can and must do: Supporting and encouraging our EcoAlly community to increase recycled content rates in all of their products and supplies, educating and incentivizing end consumers about reuse and recycling, working with public agencies and other community organizations to increase recycling infrastructure investments, and more.
Regenerative: Source Materials That Are Net Positive
Even as we strive toward endless circularity, we understand that new, virgin source materials will need to be created. We see a future in which all virgin raw materials are regenerative.
Regenerative goes many steps beyond “renewable.” Regenerative materials are ones whose production actually improves the environment and strengthens local communities - through things like long-term carbon sequestration, an empowered and well paid workforce, improved soil health and more.
Regenerative agriculture is becoming increasingly popular and setting the stage for this concept to take hold across other industries. This type of agriculture (in comparison to industrial and intensive agriculture) focuses on building up topsoil, increasing biodiversity and improving the water cycle. Examples of regenerative agriculture in action are plenty - just watch the Biggest Little Farm for some immediate inspiration.
Today, packaging materials can be made of many inputs - ranging from very nonrenewable (e.g. mined metals, sand, fossil fuels) to renewable but currently highly degenerative (e.g. corn, sugarcane) to potentially regenerative (e.g. trees, hemp, mushrooms, and agricultural waste).
EcoEnclose is looking to build a packaging future in which any virgin inputs are made with readily renewable source materials that are produced in regenerative ways (and can ultimately be reused and recycled).
EcoEnclose’s primary role in achieving this long-term vision is in our exploration and development of packaging solution and materials, especially in instances when fully recycled content is not yet a good option. We also research regenerative materials for non-packaging applications, knowing that this information can help our EcoAllies in their own product development. Finally, we seek to engage with industry associations, community organizations and legislative action can drive innovations in regenerative methods of production.
We are far from the above vision. Today, EcoEnclose - along with other environmentally progressive businesses and citizens - are primarily focused on reducing the negative, and not necessarily aiming for positive ecological and humanitarian impact.
We believe our vision for the future can become a reality as more individuals, businesses, communities and government move away from a disposable culture towards one in which people are making holistic, thoughtful decisions and investments. Investments rooted in respect for the human and natural resources that go into how something is created, how something is used, and where something ends up after its initial use.
Our Sustainable Packaging Decision Making Framework helps drive every one of our decisions, to ensure that our actions big and small gradually move us towards this long-term vision.