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The Power of Sustainable Packaging Materials

As consumers actively prioritize sustainability, many brands turn from plastic to paper-based packaging to align with their customers’ values. As part of this commitment, many are also speccing environmentally certified substrates. What are environmental certifications, and how can they enhance your brand image and reputation?

Environmental certifications let your customers know that the materials used in your packaging meet strict sustainability standards. These certifications indicate that the fiber was responsibly and sustainably sourced in ways that also support biodiversity and protect ecosystems.

Brands can choose from various reputable certifications, each with its unique focus on environmental stewardship.

Here are the three most common:

Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). FSC is an international non-profit organization that sets standards for responsible forest management. FSC-certified forests must meet rigorous criteria related to the environmental, social, and economic aspects of forest management. The FSC label indicates that the wood or paper comes from responsibly managed forests that use practices that support biodiversity, protect indigenous rights, and maintain the long-term health of the ecosystem.

Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI). Another well-known certification program is SFI. Primarily active in the United States and Canada, SFI focuses on promoting sustainable forest management practices that include harvesting practices and practices relating to water quality, biodiversity, and wildlife habitat while supporting local communities and respecting the rights of indigenous peoples.

Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC). PEFC is an international non-profit organization that provides a framework for the mutual recognition of national or regional forest certification schemes. PEFC does not have its own forest management standards but rather endorses and recognizes the standards of its member countries or regions. It emphasizes customizing criteria to local conditions and is active in multiple countries worldwide.

How can selecting packaging substrates with one or more environmental certifications benefit you? By doing the following: 

Demonstrating corporate responsibility. Consumers today actively seek brands that embrace sustainability. Designing environmentally certified packaging indicates that you are doing just that. 

Building trust and credibility. Environmentally certified substrates send a clear message to consumers about a brand's authenticity. Consumers are likelier to trust a brand that walks the talk and invests in eco-friendly practices.

Aligning with customer values. Utilizing environmentally certified substrates creates a shared value system with ecologically conscious buyers, fostering customer loyalty.

Differentiating from competitors. Adopting environmentally certified substrates sets your brand apart from competitors and positions you as an industry leader.

Designing with substrates with environmental certifications such as FSC, SFI, and PEFC is a powerful way to improve your brand image and foster consumer trust. Environmental certifications provide a tangible assurance of that commitment. When their badges are incorporated into your packaging design, they speak loudly to your customers that your sustainability values align with theirs.