The Life Cycle of Packaging: What Stages Do Folding Cartons, Labels and Leaflets Go Through?

20 Jan 2022

What happens to folding cartons, leaflets & labels? How sustainably are they made? Learn about packaging's life cycle with Essentra Packaging.

Have you ever stopped to think about the life cycle of the packaging you use? At Essentra Packaging we use life cycle assessments often to determine if a product can be made more sustainable. Also, we thought it would be interesting to show you how a folding carton, leaflet and label come to be, and how we plan their whole existence with efficiency in mind. Read on, and discover the life cycle of packaging:


First, how do folding cartons, leaflets and labels come to be?

Sourcing the raw materials to manufacture the folding cartons, leaflets and labels is the first step of the process, and at Essentra Packaging we contrive to use paper-based products that originate from sustainable sources. A way to ensure this is to partner with providers that carry PEFC and FSC certifications: alongside them we are developing a more sustainable supply chain. We want to become a part of the solution that combats climate change, and using sustainably sourced materials is only one small part of our endeavours. 

Sustainability is not, however, limited to paper-based products. We also manufacture labels, which, although made of thin plastic elements, have been developed from non-fossil-based renewable sources. Self-adhesive labels are made up of three layers, laminated including different coatings and materials. But there is no reason these materials cannot be made to be more eco-responsible: some of our plastic solutions contain recycled materials, designed to be recyclable or compostable and reduce waste. Individually, these measures might seem trifling, but put together, small changes can make a big impact.

Another element required in the manufacture of folding cartons, leaflets and labels is ink. It might seem obvious, but there are also alternatives to how we can print in order to become more efficient and sustainable. Once we have all the raw materials, we proceed to manufacture, including added value aspects, like serialisation, tamper evident, or  promotional features, among others. In the spirit of environmental responsibility, we carry out volumetric studies while designing, in order to reduce material usage and create an optimised result.


Second, the folding carton leaves the nest

After our folding cartons, leaflets and labels are manufactured, they are shipped to the clients, where they usually spend some time in storage until they are displayed on the shelves. The volumetric design mentioned earlier is not only useful to improve production processes and reduce material usage; it can also be used to make storage and transport easier, cheaper, and more efficient. Of course, in the case of pharmaceutical products destined to clinical trials, or other medication, the folding carton is sent directly to its end-user. 

When the time for storage is over, the folding carton, with its corresponding leaflets and labels, will take its place on the shelves, awaiting one of two possible fates: being purchased, or being disposed of after reaching its expiry date. If all goes well, our folding carton will be used for the purpose for which it was manufactured, including promotional actions and other secondary features that may have been added to it.


We can become more sustainable by adapting the life cycle of packaging

Packaging can be made more sustainable, and the belief in this has driven us to find new and better solutions to address our clients’ needs, while decreasing our carbon footprint. Reducing the use of raw materials, procuring these from sustainable sources, recycling, or reducing waste are some of the steps we are taking to both protect the planet while optimising our processes. Something as obvious as manufacturing a folding carton that is precisely the right shape and size can save much in terms of raw materials, and the energy used to create it.

Another alternative approach to sustainability could be substituting certain materials present in packaging: to be more precise, plastic. Swapping the use of plastic (whenever possible) for more renewable options can not only help the environment, but in some cases it may help reduce production costs and increase efficiency. 

At Essentra Packaging we want to be a part of the solution when it comes to the environmental concerns, therefore, we have taken steps to make our solutions more sustainable. We believe our actions speak for themselves, which has translated into our endeavours to make our packaging more eco-friendly at each stage of the process. If you would like to know more about making your packaging more environmentally responsible throughout its life cycle, feel free to contact us, and our experts will be delighted to give you more information.