A Circular Approach to Sustainable Custom Subscription Boxes

In the packaging world, there is hype about sustainable practices, but many of these companies are not well-educated about the concept of sustainability. There is a wide range of business experts who are trying new designs and working hard on their packaging strategies. They think that paper and cardboard boxes are very eco-friendly and can be reused

and recycled. Whenever you argue with them, they always come up with this statement: these are plant-based boxes and that is why it is sustainable. However, they do not know the fact that the recycling process of cardboard and paper-based boxes is limited. 

Undoubtedly, at first glance they look very attractive and sturdy which can protect the product, but if we talk about the cardboard subscription boxes. The cardboard has less amount of fibers, which makes it weak and can be broken down easily. This is why they are not good for shipping products on long-distance.

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Limitations of paper-based materials

The limitations go beyond physical characteristics. Paper-based materials often have a much lower scrap value than other materials like glass or aluminum. This makes them less attractive for recycling companies from a financial point of view. The scrap of materials like aluminum and steel are the perfect recyclers.

Recycling is crucial for the circular economy

Recycling has an impact on the circular economy but there are some challenges. Most recycling companies accept materials that can benefit their business in means that can be easily recycled. Paper-made boxes or pouches cannot fulfill the requirement of sustainable material. Keep in mind that many US municipalities have stopped the collection of roadside paper waste because of the higher cost of collecting papers as compared to its selling prices.

You must take control of the packaging cycle

So, how can we achieve true end-to-end circularity in packaging for custom subscription boxes? The answer lies in organizations taking charge of the process rather than relying solely on municipal and external recycling programs.

Here are some innovative solutions that promote a circular approach:

Introduce a take-back program

Brands can design programs where customers return used packaging from their subscription boxes.  

Dunnet Bay is a Scottish gin brand that uses recyclable pouches and offers a convenient return option through mail. This solves the confusion about disposal for customers and allows the company to manage its waste effectively. It helps in minimizing waste and maximize

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recycling potential.

Implementing refill and reuse models

Companies like Loop are revolutionizing the consumer product experience by offering products in refillable containers. This approach eliminates the single-use of packaging. This reminds me of the time when milk was delivered in refillable glass jugs. Subscription box companies could adapt this model, delivering products in reusable containers.  Just imagine when your favorite coffee subscription arrives in a sleek, reusable container that is easily refilled repeatedly. It will lower the trash of cardboard boxes in your home.

Reduce the usage of different materials in making subscription-packaging boxes

Many subscription box packages today combine various materials that make recycling a complex task.  Companies like P&G’s EC30 line are paving the way with single-material packaging for their home and healthcare products. This simplifies the recycling process for consumers and reduces overall waste generation.

Sustainability speaks louder

Making use of sustainable materials will impress your consumers if they understand the benefits of sustainability. Let us discuss a simple strategy about how you can make custom subscription boxes more interactive:

When you do not use the single-use packaging strategy, consumers will no longer be confused about what is recyclable and what is not.

An example of perfect convenient packaging 

Tru Earth Laundry offers dissolvable laundry strips in compostable packaging that doubles as a shipping envelope. This eliminates unnecessary packaging and simplifies the laundry process. It shows how this brand cares about eco-friendly

products that are convenient as well. 


As we discussed earlier, companies are using paper instead of plastic, and they think of it as a positive step toward sustainability. Nevertheless, it is not a proper solution, friend. Completely relying on paper ignores the limitations of paper recycling and its environmental impact.

The circularity approach is the key to using a variety of materials strategically to make sure, that whenever you want to reuse, it is at ease. Go for designs that can disassemble easily and recycle efficiently. This will create a beneficiary system for everyone. Companies will minimize waste and manufacturing costs. The recycling companies can easily process the material. Consumers will enjoy the convenient subscription boxes.

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