Frequently asked questions

On your website you mentioned “Carbon Neutral Footprint”. What does this mean?

Co2 neutral means that the impact of the packaging itself is neutral in terms of Co2 equivalents, so it has no impact on the environment. How do we do that? We first look at how to minimize the impact of the packaging, so it has as little Co2 equivalents as possible. But we want to reduce impact on the environment as much as possible. For example; plastic impact on marine life cannot be expressed in Co2 equivalents so prefer not to use plastic for disposable packaging. Next to that, we compensate what impact is left by planting trees in deserted area's. Then everything adds up to zero.

Your philosophy is ‘Rethink, Recycle and Regenerate’. What does this mean and why is it different from what your competitors do?

Our philosophy is to start with rethinking the packaging and take a detailed look at the design and the supply chain and calculate how it can be done in a more efficient way, often that also results in lower costs and shorter lead times. We use LCA software in the design proces and study material type, minimise material usage and study if materials are truly sustainable. We study if materials are home compostable and if they can (and will) be recycled. The remaining impact is compensated by planting trees in deserted area’s, so we not just plant trees but maintain them for over 30 years, this also creates biodiversity. This is different then what many competitors do because many buy Co2 certificates to compensate. Nowadays, there are all kinds of certificates on the market, for example certificates for forests in Brazil but you never know exactly what happens behind the scenes: you don't know exactly how that works and you might buy certificates for a bunch of what was already there. We regenerate, by creating new life and on the long term biodiversity.

What does “greenwashing” mean?

Greenwashing let’s you think you're doing something right, but in reality you're not, in some cases you’re even making things worse. You can have very low Co2 emissions, but contribute to a lot of chemicals or plastic in the ocean at the same time. Greenwashing often happens when companies focus on looking sustainable, but forget to BE sustainable. For both companies and customers it can be hard to recognise what is truly sustainable.

What is the biggest misconception about sustainable packaging

There are many misconceptions one of them is Oxodegradable plastic, it appears to be biodegradable because of its name, but they have little metal in the plastic, which breaks the chains of the plastic and breaks it apart into small particles. That is actually much nastier because you get microplastic and that continues for hundreds of years. On the outside the problem has been solved, but it is actually still there. An other misconception is plastics that are (partially) covered with paper to make it look like paper, for the customer it looks more sustainable. Often the plastic is covered with brown paper, to make it look even more sustainable. But in reality the paper makes it very hard or impossible to recycle the plastic, and makes it more difficult to recycle the paper, so it only makes things worse, it can also be seen as some type of greenwashing.

The media tells us Plastic is the absolute root of all evil and we should get rid of it all together. Is this true? And if so, what is a good alternative?

There is more nuance in that statement. As long as plastic is a mono material and the collection is well organised, the Co2 impact is very low. The question is how end customers dispose the packaging and how easy it is for the end-user to get the material recycled 100%.

As a consumer, what should you pay attention to when you want to find out whether a company uses sustainable packaging?

Many companies go “plastic free” which is a claim easy to explain for the brand owner and easy to understand for the en end customer. You can buy plastic free, but if it has been shipped from China or another far away destination by plane, it is still not environmentally friendly. As Zero Packaging, we provide insights into those processes by calculating the impact with LCA software and proposing alternatives including the cost effect, for instance by studying local production. Next to that, logo’s show that chosen material, a all paper solution with FCS logo can be easy to understand and easy to recycle for end customers.

What are the economic reasons I should purchase from companies who use sustainable packaging?

The obvious answer is less materials means less material costs. But less material often also means less transport costs, because more units fit on a pallet or the package is lighter/smaller. On top of that local production can reduce costs, the less transport the less impact on the environment and the less costs. It is our task to show you the impact and cost per packaging design and per production location.