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

Blog | by Norman Kay | 12.04.2018

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 compelling environment enveloping your product. You envision the brand looking brilliant, quickly engaging the shopper, and outshining your competition while conveying “take me home!”

No problem; do it, trim down, lose weight, look svelte and reduce that footprint.

Yes, size does matter. No reason to oversize. You’re a brand with a new ecological viewpoint.

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 for 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.

You have often heard the term ’cradle to grave’.

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 their board of directors as well as shareholders.

 

Initiating a sustainable proposition:

  • Assess the package design and production processes to establish materials that represent a 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 resource volume.
  • Evaluate alternative materials with higher recyclate content from acknowledged sources.
  • Examine the manufacturing 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 and other thermoforming plastics containing up to 90% recycled material.
  • PLA (Polylactic acid) 100% biodegradable corn derivative for plastic injection molded parts and thermoformed inserts.
  • 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 all packaging materials would end up as biodegradable trash. The package would function to protect, display, and sell the product, re-cycle into a renewable resource, or have re-purposed value.

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. Packaging is only one factor impacting a deteriorating natural world. We have to alter our behavior.

Our planet is a living, breathing organism that is being threatened on many fronts.

The increased weather abnormalities: rising temperatures and water levels, arctic melting, firestorms, erosion, crop damage and loss, quakes, various metaphorical locusts – all and infinitely more are due to the Earth’s crying out for intelligent decisions that are already beyond late. Many people in high places think that all this is cow pucky. They pass the time focused on colonizing Mars. Why, you might suggest?

Well before that achievement the earth will be fatally ill, and our populace will be scrounging for food, fresh water, and drugs to fight off the menacing organisms that thrive on garbage.

just sayin.

An often-quoted Amish maxim:

“We didn’t inherit the land from our fathers,

We are borrowing it from our children”.