There’s An Eco Inside My Package, And It’s Getting Louder

Blog | by Norman Kay | 09.10.2015

Brands needn’t go to market naked in support of our planet’s deteriorating eco-system; they just have to be packaged more appropriately.
Sustainability is equally compatible with ultra premium, upscale or modest product offerings.
You want a commanding environment enveloping your product. You envision the brand  looking brilliant, quickly engaging the shopper, and outshining your competition at shelf, while conveying “take me home!”
No problem; do it, trim down, lose weight, look svelte and reduce that footprint.
Yes, size does matter. You may no longer oversize. You’re a brand new Brand.
The terms green, sustainable, and ecologically friendly are bantered about, often misused, and frequently misleading.
Sustainable packaging is manufactured using substrates that have a neutral effect on the planet’s ecological system; acting to preserve our environment with positive consequences on the populace. Ideally an environmentally prudent packaging life cycle would encompass material sourcing, manufacturing, transportation, consumer usage, and reprocessing.  The object is to utilize materials that have been recycled, are recyclable, biodegradable, or possibly compostable. These materials are then converted and re-processed via environmentally clean processes, using minimal energy resources and transport volume.
Brand owners are experiencing enormous rewards for becoming environmentally responsible. By implementing an intelligent ecological strategy corporations have achieved stunning results; a measurable contribution to a sustainable environment, a ‘greener’ bottom line attained through material reduction and process refinement, consumers’ awareness that the company is aligned with socially responsible actions, and a positive acknowledgment from the corporate board of directors as well as shareholders. Brands like, Aveda and Toms have diligently embraced sustainable accountability.
Initiating a sustainable proposition:

  • Assess the package design premise to establish which materials represent the key influence in minimizing package impact.
  • Analyze existing structure, footprint, substrate, and print / deco specifications to achieve a net reduction in environmental impact, cost, and cradle – to – cradle resource volume.
  • Evaluate alternative materials with higher recyclate content from acknowledged sources.
  • Examine the manufacturing g consequences of package design on clean converting methods, energy sources, transport fuels, and eventual disposal of materials.
  • Initiate the re-design, alternate material selection, package component and composite testing, revised specifications and quality assurance.
  • Strategically source, and track verification.

A shortlist of economically prudent materials:

  • Paperboard with up to 100% recycled fiber.
  • APET thermoforming plastics containing up to 90% recycled material.
  • PLA (Polyactic acid) 100% biodegradable corn derivative plastic for injection molded parts, thermoformed inserts, and clear folding cartons.
  • Agri-Soy Inks containing zero petroleum additives and releasing minimal volatile organic compounds.
  • Hybrid UV and Aqueous coatings that exhibit up to a 46% reduction in VOCs.
  • Synthetic reflective emulsions utilizing 90% less metallic than traditional reflective foils.
  • 100% recyclable and biodegradable molded pulp from discarded newsprint.
  • 100% biodegradable and compostable film, principally from wood pulp and sourced from 100% managed forestry.

Ultimately zero packaging would end up as trash. The package would function to protect, display, and sell the product; have re-purposed value, and finally re-cycle into a renewed resource.
It’s about corporate responsibility, adhering to current and ever more stringent regulations, and being open to informed consumer scrutiny.
Our worldview has shifted to a new understanding of social responsibility and environmental impact with respect to the extraction, processing, consumption, disposal and recovery of our resources. We must forever alter our behavior in a qualitative and quantifiable manner.
“We didn’t inherit the land from our fathers.
We are borrowing it from our children.”  -Amish saying