How Brands and Distributors Can Lower Carbon Tax Through Packaging
Europe’s carbon tax policies place the responsibility of reducing emissions on businesses. Strategic packaging can help by drastically cutting CO2 consumption.
- A carbon tax is a penalty or fine levied on the direct or indirect burning of fossil fuels, including the use of petroleum-based products.
- Since Finland implemented a carbon tax in 1990, every nation in Europe has adopted a number of similar initiatives. The region has reduced carbon emissions by 24 percent over the last 30 years.
- Businesses face a significant challenge in curbing carbon emissions — but strategic packaging can help.
- Reducing unnecessary reships with adequate packaging is one of the best ways to lower carbon emissions. Each damaged product adds an average 18.3 kg of carbon dioxide gas emissions into the atmosphere.
- Using more packing material doesn’t always create more waste. On-demand paper and inflatable air systems allow packers to use an appropriate amount of material in every package, and the paper and plastic films are easy to recycle.
- Pregis’ Easypack paper consumables are 100 percent recycled, and Airspeed Renew features 50 percent post consumer recycled content. In addition, Airspeed Renew S contains natural renewable content such as leaves and husks.
- Distributors can ship more packages in fewer trips if they strategize for smaller and lower weight packages, reducing the amount of carbon generated by planes, ships, and trucks used for cargo transport.
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Reducing carbon emissions requires cooperation between citizens, businesses, and governments — and nowhere is this effort taken more seriously than in Europe. In 1990, Finland became the first country in the world to implement a carbon tax, with many more nations following suit.
Since then, greenhouse gas emissions dropped by 24 percent throughout Europe, which exceeded the 20 percent goal that was initially set. Continuing this trend, leaders and policymakers plan to hit a 55 percent reduction by the year 2030, with full climate neutrality by 2050.
The concept of a carbon tax is a driving force behind the accomplishment of these goals. With additional measures expected in the next decade, businesses should prepare now — and that starts with packaging.
What Is a Carbon Tax?
A carbon tax is a penalty or fine levied on the direct or indirect burning of fossil fuels, including the use of petroleum-based products. Though it’s a “vice tax,” carbon tax is best understood as a policy designed to discourage consumers, businesses, and governments from activities that directly or indirectly emit greenhouse gases, curbing behavior and shifting economic practices over time. What’s more, the money collected typically funds programs that further curb carbon emissions and other types of pollution.
Much of the responsibility to reduce carbon emissions falls on businesses related to manufacturing, distribution, and commerce.
How Packaging Can Reduce Carbon Emissions
Small changes to packaging and fulfillment strategies can create major reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, equating to lower carbon taxes for companies.
Replacing and reshipping packages damaged in transit results in a huge impact on a company’s carbon footprint. In fact, each damaged product adds an average 18.3 kg of carbon dioxide gas emissions into the atmosphere. High-performing, inside-the-box protection can mean the difference between products arriving safely, or needing to be returned. Pregis provides a number of paper, air, and foam solutions that cushion from impact, hold products in place, and prevent scratches. Plus, products like on-demand paper and inflatable air systems allow packers to use just the right amount of material for every box, resulting in less environmental waste once an item is unboxed. The Pregis EcoGauge app can estimate your damage rate and environmental impact based on the solutions you use.
It’s important to note that using more packing material doesn’t necessarily translate to waste either. Pregis’ Easypack paper consumables are 100 percent recycled. Airspeed Renew air cushions are created out of post-consumer recycled content, which requires less petroleum to be used in manufacturing. Renew S air cushions take this even further. They are made of at least 50 percent natural, renewable mass, such as leaves and husks and are the first CO2 neutral, cradle-to-gate air cushions. Some of Pregis’ Flo-Pak® ready-to-use void-fill solutions are made of 100 percent recycled material, too.
When packages are strategically packed, their size and weight can also be significantly reduced. And when distributors ship more packages in fewer trips, the amount of carbon generated by planes, ships, and trucks used for cargo transport is reduced as well. Airspeed also drastically reduces weight as 99 percent of the volume consists of air. Additionally, Flo-Pak loose fill is recognized as the “lightest man-made product in the world” by Guinness Book of Records. Boxes and void-fill can be eschewed entirely with Sharp Polybags, for even more reduced DIM weight.
Environmental Protection Measures Are Evolving, But So Is Packaging
As more governments and organizations align to meet goals for reducing carbon emissions , new carbon tax and environmental protection measures will be implemented worldwide.
Beyond curbing CO2, the European Union introduced a new tax on plastic packaging waste in January 2021, pushing manufacturers to reach a target of at least 50 percent recycled material by 2030.
We have worked in partnership with the companies and associations in CEFLEX since February 2020 to coordinate the changes needed for a circular economy. Pregis’ packaging solutions are evolving alongside and in compliance with new environmental protection measures, while creating and implementing sustainable solutions for the industry, our customers, and consumers.
To learn more about how packaging can reduce CO2 emissions,