Sustainable Packaging on the Rise (from the Green Economy Post)

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(From The Green Economy Post, 3/8/2010) “Sustainable packaging is becoming a fact of life for companies that seek to remain competitive. Companies employing sustainable packaging report cost savings, improved environmental footprints, brand image and company reputation among other benefits. Those businesses that take the lead now will be ahead of the curve and enjoy the benefits in the future.

by Aysu Katun, Green Economy Post

Companies continue to face growing pressure from consumers, government and the media to make their operations and products more sustainable. One area that companies are increasingly focusing on is sustainable packaging. Internationally, the environmental impacts of packaging are subject to an increasing number of government regulations and co-regulatory agreements. A report from independent market analyst Datamonitor also identifies sustainable packaging as a growing consumer issue, revealing that while sustainable packaging is not yet a primary motivator of purchases, it is increasingly expected by consumers.

While there is no consensus on what actually constitutes sustainable packaging, the Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC) defines it as packaging that is “sourced responsibly, designed to be effective and safe throughout its life cycle, meets market criteria for performance and cost, made entirely using renewable energy and once used, is recycled efficiently to provide a valuable resource for subsequent generations.”

According to a study by AMR Research, 76% of sustainability efforts are focused on reducing packaging waste. A recent Pike Research study also found that sustainable packaging is expected to grow to 32 percent of the total global packaging market by 2014, up from 21 percent in 2009.

Cost Savings

In spite of these growth projections, critics of sustainable packaging point to higher cost as a reason for companies to avoid its adoption. Yet, according to an IndustryWeek article, companies employing sustainable packaging report cost savings, not increases.

In his article, “Sustainable Packaging Initiatives Are a Viable Cost-Reduction Solution in a Downward Economy,” Ryan Humphrey, Director of Professional Services at ModusLink Global Solutions, urges companies to take a holistic approach that “affords visibility into the entire product lifecycle, from manufacturing and packaging, to delivery, recycling or disposition. When sustainable improvements are considered from this perspective, most organizations will realize a cost savings and positive impact on the bottom line.”

Humphrey further states that companies should analyze product packaging and supply chain processes to develop a model that reduces packaging size and minimizes operational and logistics activities that contribute to GHG emissions. “More compact packaging will result in a reduced material cost. By simplifying the packaging process with fewer pieces, you can extend the savings with less labor. The amount of warehouse space required is reduced, further impacting logistics costs. The domino effect continues through redesigning pallet configuration and shipping more product per pallet.”

For the full article, including recommendations on how your company can save money through reduced packing, please click here.

Chris has spent over 20 years helping communities utilize sustainability, social entrepreneurship, and philanthropy as catalysts for economic growth. Chris serves as Executive Director of the Institute for Sustainable Development and the Green Plus™ -- a program dedicated to helping America's...
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