ISTA Launches ‘Responsible Packaging’ Guide

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by | May 23, 2013

The International Safe Transit Association has published a sustainable packaging guide that ISTA chairman Larry Dull says is the first of its kind.

The Responsible Packaging by Design Guide will help companies compare different packaging options, measuring them for product protection ability, reducing product waste arising from spoilage or damage, optimal use of resources when manufactured and, once used, maximum recovery of materials, the association says.

Dull says there was no uniform guide until now that met all of the functional requirements of the industry while also incorporating sustainability parameters.

Dull told Packaging World that ISTA used “responsible” instead of “sustainable,” since the former has a wider connotation. It’s also more realistic he explained, since many companies don’t have the resources to perform complete life-cycle analysis of their packaging and operations.

The guide offers companies options for different levels of LCA scrutiny, depending on their needs and budget constraints. For those that want to conduct a complete LCA, it offers templates, forms and examples that help users verify and document meaningful data. For those that want a less expensive option, there’s “LCA light,” which uses existing software. The “LCA thinking” option enables companies to scrutinize packaging projects and raise questions about what goes into their packaging, Packaging World reports.

The guide does not suggest new performance metrics — it only evaluates different packaging — but it can be used in tandem with existing LCA program or scorecard requirement.

ISTA says delivering products safely and intact to consumers is a top sustainability goal, since wastage due to damage, returns or loss can negatively impact the entire LCA.

Sustainability goals should focus on lowering the carbon footprint and transportation costs in the LCA, says Jay Singh, packaging program director at California Polytechnic State University. He told Packaging World that those costs skyrocket when damaged goods are returned to the manufacturer and new goods have to be shipped out.

Packaging trends point to an increased focus on reducing packaging. DuPont announced the winners of its 25th annual packaging awards last week with companies including Gillette and BMC Inks winning gold for significantly reducing packaging and keeping waste out of landfills.


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