I know you've heard it all before - and it's not sexy or
exciting. I also know the idea of package sustainability
(recycling) has come and gone before. But, thanks to the
efforts of companies like Wal-Mart, this time it's an idea
that's here to stay. It's an idea that can save you money, help
your image - and help reduce government intervention.
The following "What is sustainable packaging?" list blends
broad sustainability goals
business criteria for performance and cost:
In 2006 Wal-Mart announced its new Sustainable Packaging
Scorecard, which is working toward a 5% packaging reduction
across its global supply chain by 2013. Wal-Mart's ultimate
goal, according to
, is to become "packaging neutral" by 2025.
This would mean a savings of US$3.4 billion for the
retailer, 213,000 fewer truckloads of merchandise, 67 million
fewer gallons of diesel fuel and 700,000 fewer tons of carbon
dioxide emissions. Wal-Mart's ultimate goal is to have all of
the packaging that flows through its distribution chain
recyclable, reusable, compostable or recoverable for future
The mantra of sustainable packaging advocates is: reduce,
reuse, recycle and renew. These ideas are worthy of your
Removing excess packaging and reducing the overall packaging
footprint are steps that go a long way toward sustainability,
notes Tel Mininni, president of Design Force Inc. (
). With reduced packaging, more products can be packed into
shipping cartons and more cartons onto pallets, resulting in
fewer truckloads and harmful emissions. But because the process
can reduce energy and material costs, it can also add
substantially to profits.
Reusing packaging is another key step you can take. Consider
how common the practice of reusing milk bottles used to be for
local dairy producers. Why not extend the idea of reuse to
plastic food packaging, which can be reclaimed after the
product is consumed to store other foods? Consumers are already
purchasing containers to store their foodwhy not make a storage
container a purchase bonus?
In their book,
Cradle to Cradle
, architect William McDonough and chemist Michael Braungart
make the case that product and packaging manufacturing should
be reconfigured using a closed-loop process. Since the
Industrial Revolution, a "cradle to grave" system has been in
place where products and packaging end up in landfills at the
end of their life cycles.
In a "cradle to cradle" approach, product and packaging
materials are perpetually circulated and reused in a
Consider renewable material sources. Bioplastics, for example,
are made from corn, soy, sugarcane or even microbial sources,
which all can be replenished, unlike nonrenewable resources
The SPC is an industry working group dedicated to
transforming packaging into a system that encourages economic
prosperity and a sustainable flow of materials.
The SPC is a project of GreenBlue, a not-for-profit,
501(C)(3) tax exempt organization. Contact:
600 E. Water St., Suite C
Charlottesville, Virginia 22902 USA
Tel: +1.434.817.1424, ext. 309
7 ways to improve packaging sustainability
Source: Petfood Industry webinar sponsored by Alcan
and Packaged Facts, October 30, 2007.
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