7-Step Checklist for Converting to Sustainable Beverage Packaging

April 30, 2021 | By The Fres-co Team

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Consumers are thinking critically about how and where they spend their money, and sustainability is high on their list of criteria. There is increasing pressure on beverage companies to develop a viable sustainability mission and integrate it into their business practices— without disrupting operations or jeopardizing the bottom line.

Converting to more sustainable beverage packaging can help you meet consumer expectations, protect the environment, and maintain a healthy bottom line.

Our packaging experts have compiled a 7-step checklist for converting to a more sustainable beverage packaging option, based on their experience with a wide range of beverage companies.

But first…

What is sustainable beverage packaging?

Sustainable packaging involves strategically creating or choosing packaging options that are better for the environment—because they use fewer resources, generate fewer emissions, and create less waste.

Why go sustainable?

Consumers are challenging their favorite brands to align their mission with their products and services—and using their wallets to demand change, especially when it comes to sustainability. A recent global survey found that consumers across the age spectrum, from millennials to baby boomers, are placing a higher priority on sustainable food and beverage packaging in particular. For companies that want to capture their share of green-minded consumers’ spending, sustainable packaging is becoming a must.

According to L.E.K. Consulting, a global management consulting firm, nearly 85% of companies made at least one significant shift in packaging materials between 2017-2019—most often because it improved the ease of recycling. The ability to reduce packaging weight, inbound shipping costs, and the energy consumed during transportation of the unfilled packaging—from packaging supplier to filling operation—are other reasons driving companies to adopt sustainable packaging.

7 steps to sustainable beverage packaging

To meet consumer demand for sustainability and stay ahead of the competition, beverage companies should be considering a move to sustainable packaging.

How do you make that transition in a way that improves your brand image and your bottom line? This 7-step checklist can get you started.

1. Remember your “why”

The transition to eco-friendly packaging for liquids will take a commitment of resources. There may be times when your business questions if it’s the right decision.

In those moments, it’s important to remember why you’re doing this. Reiterate the benefits of sustainable packaging to your team. Remind them that consumers are increasingly expecting companies to move in this direction, that it’s an opportunity to adopt business practices with a positive impact, and that it’s good for the bottom line.

2. Research your options

There are multiple sustainable beverage packaging options, and most offer the added benefits of cost savings over traditional rigid packaging and a unique twist that adds flair and fun. Choosing the sustainable beverage packaging that’s best for you is important because it will impact your marketing and messaging down the road.

Within the flexible packaging industry, the number and breadth of eco-friendly packaging solutions continues to grow and expand, with more options in development all the time. Some of the most popular sustainable beverage packaging options today include the following:

Bag-in-Box

Boxed wine and liquor are consumer favorites, thanks to the environmental and economic benefits that come from producing, transporting, storing, and consuming from a bag in a box. Beverage companies are adopting bag-in-box options like Fres Flow™ because they’re far less expensive to manufacture and ship compared to glass bottles. They’re also designed to reduce product waste, improve dispensing efficiency, and preserve the product’s quality and freshness.

 Beverage pouches

Drink pouches combine convenience, fun, and sustainability. They’re easier to ship and store, streamlining logistics and reducing costs. Packaging options like the Fres-co Barrel Pouch significantly reduce greenhouse gases released and energy consumed by over 90% versus a glass bottle. Pouches also dramatically improve the product-to-package ratio, using significantly less material to store the same amount of alcohol, and they support a wide variety of customization and design options.

3. Align your goals

It’s likely you’ll have to forge new supply chain partnerships in the process of transitioning to sustainable beverage packaging. Not only is it important to find a packaging company that prioritizes sustainability in its materials, but you also need to ensure the company’s sustainability mission permeates its culture and processes.

Consumers expect companies to go well beyond a feel-good sustainability mission. So be sure you understand the full scope of your chosen supplier’s sustainability efforts. Besides the packaging materials they use, find out if they participate in recycling programs, employ streamlined shipping logistics, and use eco-friendly appliances and systems. Your research will help you find partners that align with your goals, mission, and budget.

4. Listen to your customers

You know consumers want a sustainable product, but what else are they interested in? A more convenient option? A cheaper alternative?

To make the most of your transition to sustainability, know what your customers are looking for—then find a way to deliver it. A survey can provide insights on what consumers expect when it comes to sustainable beverage packaging. And you’ll create goodwill by asking for their input.

If you develop a survey, be sure to maximize the response rate by promoting it widely:

  • In your email footer
  • Via social media
  • In a targeted email
  • On the bottom of receipts

To further entice a response, consider offering a gift card, discount code or other incentive for completing the survey.

5. Go slow

Changing your packaging affects your entire supply chain. It’s a commitment that’s hard to undo once the process has started. For example, moving from a can to a liquor pouch requires a new production line, ample testing for quality and logistics, new designs, updated marketing, and more.

It may be best to start small and scale up to make the transition manageable, both financially and logistically. A gradual process will help ease the change and give you time to make any necessary adjustments along the way.

6. Rethink your messaging

When you change your beverage packaging to improve sustainability, be sure to tell your consumers what you’ve done and why. They’ll be pleased to hear you’re listening to their wants and expectations. You might even capture new customers looking to do business with companies that offer more eco-friendly packaging for liquids and other products.

The switch to sustainable packaging is also the perfect time to rethink your branding and labels. How can your new packaging help you stand out on a crowded liquor store shelf? Let your marketing team get creative!

7. Celebrate your achievement

Sustainability is a big deal for your company and your customers, so take time to celebrate the achievement! Whether it’s a launch party, a press release, or some other form of promotion, be sure to tout what you’ve done and thank your team for making it happen.

Need a partner to help you find the best sustainable beverage packaging? We’re here to help. Listen to our free webinar recording for more details on what to consider when making the move to flexible, sustainable packaging—including tips based on the experiences of our beverage industry customers.

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The Fres-co Team

For more than 40 years, Fres-co System USA, Inc. has manufactured high-performance flexible packaging systems and invented dozens of innovative breakthroughs including degassing valves, modified atmosphere technologies, and reclosure systems.

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