Sustainable packaging encompasses multiple initiatives, including producing effective solutions with minimum resources, protecting the product, transport efficiency and effective end of life management.
One caveat, no matter what the company decides to include in its sustainability mix, there will be no greater backlash than the waste of fully-costed products. These are products that have been manufactured and transported to a retailer only to never be purchased due to a variety of reasons, such as a packaging defect or damage – which can endanger the integrity of the product inside. To balance performance and sustainability, product manufacturers should consider the following points:
Reduce Material with Care
For years, the industry has focused on reducing by rightsizing or down gauging material. This approach reduces waste towards the end of the package’s lifecycle and also saves material costs upfront. In some cases, depending on the redesign, it can drive transportation efficiency by reducing overall weight and size permitting greater cube utilization. This results in the reduction of fuel usage and minimizes the CPG’s overall carbon footprint.
However, material reduction should always be done with care to maintain the integrity of the package. The primary function of any package is to protect its contents, and packaging that fails to do so will result in fully-costed waste.
Follow the Industry Guidelines
The International Safe Transit Association (ISTA) has created a protocol for responsible package design. This protocol offers an analytical process for assessing packaging functionality and sustainability and provides an eight stage evaluation process to guide design changes and prevent damage during transport.
Don’t Just Reduce, Reuse
Re-tripping (or reusing) corrugate in transporting product to retailers is another way to improve carbon footprint. Programs exist similar to pallet programs where vendors supply, collect and pool shippers for redistribution.
Test Packaging Re-Designs for Consumer Preference
In considering material reduction, companies need to carefully evaluate new package redesigns. Before making changes, CPGs should bring together their material and equipment suppliers, packaging designers and brand managers to discuss any potential challenges with introducing a new package. This step is crucial to ensure that the new package functions properly on legacy equipment and prevent downtime or waste associated with line stoppages during production.
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Source: Environmental Leader