Do you really need that plastic inlay? Reduce or Replace. Beyond Sustainability.

04 Mar 2021

We are seeing an increasing awareness about removing plastics whenever possible and replacing them with cardboard if total suppression isn’t feasible. Customers from different industries and with all kind of packaged products are putting their efforts in developing an effective replacement for plastic fitments.

 Essentra Packaging Sustainable Assesment

The reason is mainly, but not only, sustainability. Taxes, logistic advantages and gaining space for communicating are some other important reasons that move producers to substitute their plastic inlays with cardboard. Sometimes, even great cost savings come along with the change.


Sustainability as the key driver

Acting on sustainability is a demand coming from end consumers, stakeholders and is becoming more and more regulated by Institutions.

There is a rise of regulations in packaging waste and circular economy that are penalizing the producers that introduce not recyclable, reusable or compostable packaging components in the market. In the EU alone, the Directives 2018/851 and 2018/852 set clear goals in the reduction of waste sent to landfill and increase targets for preparing for re-use and recycling of waste. Some countries, like the UK, are including a special tax for producers that introduce virgin single use plastics in the market, and many others are including new assignments to the extended producer responsibility.

One of the first steps towards packaging sustainability in most of the cases is the replacement of plastic inlays with cardboard structures. It comes naturally because it usually unifies the packaging in a monomaterial composition, having both the exterior and the interior produced with cardboard.

In Essentra Packaging we are seeing this increasing sustainability concern in customers and we have successfully helped them transitioning from their former plastic fitments to custom made cardboard structures providing increased benefits. Our local teams, assisted by our central Design Hub, closely work with customers to determinate the best solution to protect and transport their products and develop the best structure assuring equal or improved behaviour in lines, costs and logistics.

Check out some of our success stories explained by our local teams.


 Ampoules Cardboard Inlay by Essentra Packaging Christmas Carboard Inlay Success story Essentra Packaging


 Adapting to new consumers and the new selling channels

Pulling the thread of the sustainability movement is the final consumer, concerned about how their actions affect the planet and more empowered than ever before. This new consumer profile is decided to base their purchasing decision on a company’s sustainable commitment and coherence.

Also, the rise of e-commerce as the preferred shopping channel, mainly boosted by the Covid-19 situation, is putting companies to think about how to create frustration free packaging, outstanding unboxing experiences and logistic improvements.

Frustration free packaging can be achieved by removing unnecessary materials, fitting the packaging to the size of the product and substituting materials with more sustainable options.  Flexibility of cardboard fitments can be a great solution, for example, for multi-product packaging (such as promo packs or gift boxes), accommodating different shapes of products depending on what each customer orders. Foldable as they are, they can easily be stocked and transported, improving the logistics of the company.

Adding to these frustration free and logistic performance, cardboard fitments are also a great Marketing tool, as they provide an extra space for communicating about the product. As cardboard is fully customisable, inlays can be printed with images, texts and codes to generate a surprising unboxing experience or even to help the customer navigate through the use and benefits of the product.


Can’t wait to discuss all the opportunities that your packaging can benefit from! Let’s get in contact and work out a solution.