Elements of a Sustainable Packaging Initiative

by | Nov 4, 2013

packagingBenchmarking, “right-sizing” and noticing the impact of secondary packaging are just three of the elements needed when establishing a sustainable packaging initiative, reports Greener Package.

As sustainability is still not the major driver for many companies, any move toward sustainable packaging often needs to focus on initiatives that are better for the environment and the bottom line, the publication reports. Its other tips for moving toward sustainable packaging include:

  • Establish a standard for yourself. If you can’t measure, you can’t improve. Companies should consult with a university, nonprofit or other organization that can measure energy metrics to find out where they stand consumption-wise.
  • Right-size primary packaging. This includes using packaging that’s an appropriate size for its product and optimizing the size of the finished package to maximize the number of units on a pallet.
  • Recognize the importance of production line speeds. In many ways, supply chain efficiency comes down to energy use. One reason metal cans still win the fight versus plastic cans is that they can be filled quicker, drastically affecting the per can price.
  • Reduce or eliminate secondary shipping packaging. Well-designed primary packaging can cut down on secondary shipping packaging or eliminate pallet support packaging. This, in turn, can cut weight, space and, subsequently, fuel consumption from a supply chain.
  • Combine packaging configurations. This technique could include optimizing ordering processes and warehouse management in a bid to reduce over-packaging or getting a company’s IT department to build a system that rationalizes the number of packaging sizes and combine sshipments where possible.
  • Use case- and pallet-maximizing software. IT can also be used to further optimize packaging and products for shipping. However, the software may suggest resizing the product itself.
  • Explore multiple-use or closed-loop packaging. Packaging costs go down as the number of times it is used increases. Companies are often surprised how much “internal” packaging they use and how much of it can be converted into reusable containers.

Sustainability is not an optional add-on, but rather an essential part of business for the packaging industry, Food Production Daily reported in an article published at the end of last year.

Photo Credit: sustainable packaging image via Shutterstock

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