Sustainable Packaging Progress in 2008
Optimizing Packaging DesignOptimizing packaging materials, reducing shipping weight and cube, and increasing packaging cubic densities can lead to significant savings. While there may be minimal material savings in direct packaging costs, it can have a multiplier effect on the cost of transportation, handling and storage. A change in packaging can create a ripple effect throughout the supply chain producing efficiency gains, dramatic cost-savings and reduced energy consumption.
Many packaging savings and reductions have already been achieved. Beverage cans are much lighter than they were 10 years ago, and most use recycled aluminum. Deodorants are sold without containers now. Shipping boxes contain large percentages of recycled fiber. McDonald's has been steadily reducing the amount of virgin paper and plastic in the boxes that hold its fries and the lids that top its coffee cups.
In spite of sustainable packaging becoming more mainstream (i.e. more major brand owners using sustainable materials for their packaging), finding sustainable solutions to meet consumer demands and corporate citizenship objectives is still a daunting challenge for packaging professionals.
The Packaging Summit Expo and Conference
Treeless PaperDistant Village Packaging www.distantvillage.com
Distant Village Packaging is focused on sustainable "presentation" packaging for small to medium businesses (e.g., Boxes for Chocolates, Trade Show Bags, Gift Boxes for Gourmet Foods, Jewlery, Bath/Body, etc). They use recycled, reclaimed, and abundant/renewable materials to make fine packaging. Our sustainable business practice reaches into environmental, economic, and community efforts. Distant Village Packaging is focused on serving businesses with custom specialty packaging. Most of their packaging is carefully made by hand using sustainable resources and methods – reinforcing the quality of their clients' products. Many clients create hand-made products and believe their packaging should be nothing less than the same quality of their own products – and that is exactly what we strive to provide for them. Custom designed hand-made packaging.
"Full Circle Sustainability" is about managing the process for a win-win scenario, says Rich Cohen, CEO, Distant Village Packaging.
Industry Standards by Wal-Mart
THE WAL-MART SUSTAINABILITY SCORECARDIt’s likely that you’ll soon have to comply with your customers’ sustainability initiatives as well as your own. That's the case if you provide products for the Wal-Mart chain of retail outlets.
Wal-Mart has taken a "lifecycle approach" to packaging with objectives covering reduction in waste and renewable energy. Nine weighted parameters of Wal-Mart's sustainability scorecard are measured for their prospective and current vendors.
Wal-Mart has told its buyers that, starting in 2008, they should consider the packaging scores when choosing among various products for its Wal-Mart and Sam's Club stores. Matt Kistler, Vice President - Package and Product Innovations, Sam's Club Wal-Mart
Part of the challenge in rolling out greener products is informing customers about changes that affect their perception of savings. Wal-Mart's April 2008 "Earth Month" promotion is highlighting its greener products and informing customers how making better choices, especially on a large scale, can cause a difference. Wal-Mart is featuring more than 50 products in stores and 500 online, from transitional cotton shirts to mulch made from rubber to Clorox Green Works products.
To green its supply chain the company launched a it's "Wal-Mart Packaging Scorecard" in 2007 . By filling in information about products' packaging, suppliers are rated and find out their rank in relation to peers. Kistler said Wal-Mart works with suppliers, telling them what they can do to improve and let them know what other suppliers have done to reduce packaging.
One vendor, Nestlé Waters North America, which owns Poland Spring, Deer Park and other brands, said it has saved 20 million pounds, or 9 million kilograms, of paper in the past five years by using narrower labels on many bottles. They also switched to clear caps that are more easily recycled. And it is rolling out newly designed bottles that are amont the lightest water bottles around. Next step...reduce water in bottles, but until the demand subsides, these incremental steps can be lessons on innovative ways to reduce raw material usage!
Transportation is a large part of Wal-Mart's carbon impact due to carrying all these packaged products thousands of miles from suppliers to regional warehouses to retail stores. Some of its recent and coming programs are with its fleet--one of the largest in the world. Although the company is planning to start rolling out hybrid trucks in April, 2008, it's already made its fleet 20% more efficient than in 2005 by designing aerodynamic trucks and using auxiliary power units (APU) that turn off the engine but not the heating, cooling and lights.
The Live Better IndexIntroduced in April 2007, Wal-Mart's Sustainability Index tracks five everyday products to serve as nationwide trend indicators of products and attitudes surrounding environmental issues. The products were selected because consumers can make a conscious decision to purchase them for their environmentally friendly and cost-saving benefits versus conventional versions. We know consumers have the power to make a difference!
Sustainable Packaging CoalitionEnvironmental Defense, which was instrumental in getting McDonald's to give up Styrofoam clamshell-shaped packages in 1991, devised a calculator that enables package designers to compare the weight, recycled content and performance traits of about 20 materials. The tool was adopted by GreenBlue, a nonprofit research institute that operates the Sustainable Packaging Coalition. The Environmental Protection Agency has given GreenBlue a grant of $150,000 to further refine the tool.
"Packaging offers major opportunities for reducing energy use and greenhouse gases, and for saving the $4 billion worth of materials that now ends up in landfills," said Matt Hale, director of the agency's Office of Solid Waste.
IoPP Sustainable Packaging Task Group (SPTG)The Sustainable Packaging Task Group, is part of the Institute of Packaging Professionals. Formed in 2007, the subgroup has created three sub-groups to methodically build professional resources for their members and the industry:
Design Guidelines Available Online
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