The Case for Sustainability in Packaging

“Sustainability is the ability to achieve continuing economic prosperity while protecting the natural systems of the planet and providing a high quality of life for its people.” – Environmental Protection Agency

Sustainability has evolved far beyond its early status as a fringe idea. Now, it’s a central theme in the global trend toward efficiency, preservation of natural resources, and economic stability.

Contrary to what you might have heard, an environmentally-sound philosophy doesn’t have to involve uncomfortable trade-offs. Flexible packaging is sustainable packaging, and it can help you meet your goals for the environment, your customer base, and your financials.

Sustainability Supports a Convenient Lifestyle

Imagine a life where consumer packaging didn’t exist. Chances are, your life would take an abrupt turn. Sustainable packaging carries social benefits that support and enhance life in ways that many consumers might never have imagined.

Plastic Packaging Facts asserts that the social benefits are the “third leg of the sustainability stool,” complementing economic and environmental performance.

Sustainable materials, they explain, help keep food fresher longer. From the refrigerated section to produce to shelf-stable products, there’s less spoilage and less waste in the budget as well as the refrigerator.

Flexible packaging, renowned as an ecologically-sound choice, also helps transport more goods using less fuel and keeps products fresher. More people have access to better nutrition, even in remote areas.


Sustainability improves your marketing aim.

A Green Approach Offers a Valuable, Competitive Marketing Edge

In the marketplace, sustainability offers a clear competitive edge. Consumers gravitate toward companies that claim environmental friendliness and demonstrate it through good stewardship.

Sometimes, a company’s philosophy is as important as its products. BizCommunity makes several observations:

  • People buy from companies that make them “feel good.”
  • Consumers prefer companies that tackle societal issues.
  • The younger the customer base, the more a company’s large-scale societal benefits matter.
  • The majority of consumers expect company transparency. They want to see sustainable measures in action.

“The demand for sustainability has affected every aspect of packaging,” says Packaging World.  It influences preferences for smaller package size, lightweighting, resource conservation, and waste minimization.

A course correction toward low-environmental impact, flexible packaging matches global awareness and consumer demand. Sustainability resonates with consumers, which helps build a positive relationship based on a mutual philosophy between a brand and a consumer.

It’s Fiscally Responsible for the Corporate Economies

Sustainability makes sense from an economic standpoint, as well, but perhaps not exactly the way that you think. In a somewhat surprising twist, common knowledge on the subject could hurt, not help, your bottom line. A better path to green goals is developing.

Take recycling, for example. Common knowledge says plastic recycling trumps landfill waste. For that matter, plastics should be avoided, correct? Not so fast.

Sustainable Materials Management (SMM) looks at the whole lifecycle of a product. It begins with the most Earth-friendly source material, ends with as little waste as possible, and gathers as much use from the product as possible inside the life cycle.

Unfortunately, many businesses don’t yet appreciate the place where plastics fit into SMM. The natural capital cost of switching from plastics to alternative packaging materials could place a heavier burden on the planet, according to Packaging Digest.

Plastics are efficient, lightweight, small, and comparatively inexpensive. They often accomplish more than competing materials with a lower overall economic and environmental impact once the big picture comes into focus.

Packaging Digest says balancing SMM and the circular economy is a “journey, not a destination.”  There is no single perfect sustainable solution, as myriad factors affect short- and long-term economic outcomes.

The cost factor is only one of several cogs in the green initiative wheel. Pan out, and you’ll see that source material cost is sometimes minor when compared to other advantages of a low-environmental-impact strategy.

Improved marketability, better living with more conveniences, lower packaging and product transportation costs, longer life cycle and many other benefits create a better case for sustainability in packaging.

Flexible packaging enhances your sustainability goals. Download our food packaging product and pricing brochure and find out more.

Packaging trends for 2016: Sustainability still rules

Sustainability is a trendy buzzword that has made its way from every day business verbiage to something which all companies, in any business, must focus on to survive in business today. Sustainability has evolved from LED light bulbs in the office and recycling bins under every desk to its incorporation company policy and values. The effects of a company on the environment are wide reaching; finding their way from the boardroom downwards and are strictly enforced in environmental policies. Balancing the demands of the consumer and the limited resources of the Earth is the key challenge companies are facing today. We live in a world of fast pace and convenience are both expected and the throw away nature of our products creates a problem, but a balance that must be struck and many companies are focusing their efforts on doing just that.


One of the biggest brands, Apple, is focusing on the sustainability of their product. They started with the weight of their package, between two iPhone generations they have decreased the weight of their carton by 34% less volume and the iPhone itself being 20% lighter than the first generation. Along with designing a lighter product and package, the company’s electricity is 93% sourced from renewable energy, with 23 countries boasting 100% renewable energy. Apple has also teamed up with WWF and The Conservation Fund to ensure sustainable forests in the United States are protected, and the forests in China that had previously been plundered are sustained and managed.


Despite these efforts, the United States is still behind when it comes to recycling. The US ranks far behind other developed countries with an average packaging recycling rate of about 51% (Natural Defense Council, 2015). However, many US companies are joining sustainable initiatives to ensure their product is a recyclable and/or sustainable product.


Source: Packaging News

Sustainability of Packaging Important for Customers

According to a consumer survey commissioned by the STI Group, the majority of consumers list recycling and disposal when talking about sustainability. Consumers tend to make conclusions about a product’s sustainability based on the product’s packaging; cardboard is considered to be greener than packaging made from other materials.

Per the survey consumers are willing to pay a higher fee for products with sustainable packaging. On average the consumer was willing to pay 12% more for environmentally friendly packaging.

To read the article, click here.

Source: Packaging Europe

Can manufacturing lead the way to a sustainable future?

Because of the growing understanding that major challenges, such as climate change, resource constraints and urbanization require major solutions, the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board has decided to channel the power of the capital markets to tackle these issues head on. The SASB issued standards for the following five industries: aerospace and defense; chemicals; containers and packaging; electrical/ electronic equipment; and industrial machinery and goods.

The global market for sustainable packaging is predicted to grow to $244 billion by 2018. This is an increase of 28% in only five years.

Companies are starting to look at the value of closing the loop in the product life cycle. In the United States the amount of plastic, steel, glass, aluminum and paper sent to landfills annually is estimated at $11.4 billion. This represents a substantial loss of potential feedstock for new containers and packaging. The American Forest and paper Association launched its “Better Practices, Better Planet 2020” initiative to accelerate recycling rates of paper packaging by more than 70% by 2020.

To read the entire article click the link below:

Source: GreeenBiz

CDF Corporation is cutting its energy costs with a solar power system from Independence Solar

CDF Corporation, a leading manufacturer of drum, pail, intermediate bulk container and bag in box liners and flexible packaging, is cutting its energy costs with a solar power system from Independence Solar.

Since 1971, CDF Corporation has been an industry leader in sustainable packaging and environmental awareness. We continue to lead this initiative in an effort to make all facets of our organization environmentally friendly, sustainable and energy efficient. Investing in solar electricity is another step CDF is taking to become 100% sustainable.

Initially CDF Corporation invested in 8,200 solar panels for the Cheer Pack manufacturing facility in West Bridgewater, Massachusetts. With that success, Independence Solar installed 2,500 solar panels at CDF’s headquarters in Plymouth, Massachusetts. The solar panels at CDF generate approximately 20% of the electricity used for manufacturing. On weekends and holidays, when CDF is not manufacturing product, the power goes out to the grid to be used by other companies in the Plymouth area. CDF’s effort to expand its solar power usage in Massachusetts demonstrates our commitment to sustainability.

Mark Kasberg, Chief Financial Officer at CDF Corporation, commented, “Solar electricity is not only good for the environment, but it is also good for the company. It is keeping our costs down. “

5 top global packaging trends

These top global packaging trends are opportunities for packaging your product in 2013 and beyond.


Sustainability is still an important topic for consumers globally. Consumers expect manufacturers and retailers to include green characteristics in their products without increasing the price of the product. Consumers have become more skeptical and need help determining if a product’s green claims are true. In sustainability’s new role, consumers look to companies to provide a platform that allows them to make a difference, to do something they might not be able to do on their own.

Authentic, credible, traceable

Packaging is an opportunity to provide information about locale and traceability and re-establish the connection between the consumer and the brand.


Packaging continues to be a very important part of branding. Packaging allows companies to amplify a brand’s essence, connect with a brand’s heritage, pique interest in a trial or purchase, demonstrate brand value and allows consumers to express themselves through choice.

Shoppers manage their budgets

Research shows that shopping behavior has changed in response to the economic situation. More consumers are making “just in time” purchases, with fewer pantry loading. Smaller, easier to carry packs with smaller price points hold potential for Europe, the United States and in many emerging markets. Flexible packaging is poised to play a huge role in Asia for the smaller snacks and bakery items.

Wellness: What shoppers seek

Making it easier for consumers to find what they are looking for is crucial. In the health and wellness category calling out key benefits or ingredients makes it easier for the consumer to find the product they are looking for. Beauty and personal care consumers are focused on beauty enhancing benefits.

Source: Packaging Digest May 2013

Packaging Innovation for Sustainability

Packaging innovation is occurring with new technology development and new applications of existing technologies to improve packaging performance. Packaging producers are working to displace environmentally inferior materials, reduce product damage during transport, extend product shelf life and improve resource efficiency.

The Plant PET Technology Collaborative of Coca Cola, Ford, Heinz, Nike and Procter & Gamble is working to replace virgin plastics with plant based PET materials. Another sustainable development is mushroom packaging, which is marketed as a substitute for expanded polystyrene.

To extend the shelf life of food, Marks & Spencer is adding a small strip of clay and other minerals to the bottom of the plastic strawberry containers. The strip absorbs ethylene delaying ripening and spoilage. Curwood created FreshCase vacuum packaging, which uses a proprietary additive to preserve the bright red color of fresh meat.

To read more about sustainable packaging innovation, click on the link below.

Paper packaging targeted by European sustainability report

A pan-European project that aims to revolutionize paper packaging being coordinated by the UK’s Sheffield Hallam University, has secured EU funding in-excess of €3m. It is expected to result in the development of “NewGenPack'”- the next generation of environmentally friendly paper packaging.

Experts from across Europe are pooling ideas and resources to ‘change the face of paper packaging’ and create innovative sustainable packaging with enhanced properties.

Carol Hammond, head of R&D at Chesapeake, who is one of the research partners, declared that the expertise bought together for the project has the potential to create a new generation of packaging.

“Cardboard products are inherently made from a very sustainable material. If it is enhanced with greater functionality, such as barrier properties to prevent moisture loss or has increased shape flexibility, its use can be extended to a greater number of market applications”, she said. “The team of experts is focused on developing the next generation of environmentally-friendly products that could change the face of paper packaging.”

The group, with specialists from Sweden, Poland, Spain, France, Germany, Italy, Denmark, the Netherlands and the UK, said it will focus on the development of new packaging that is both sustainable and economically viable. The participants are carrying out top level, individual research projects to advance in three major fields: next generation packaging composites; cellulose fibre based active packaging and the effect of packaging production on the environment, the economy and society as a whole.

The initiative has the brief to foster the next generation of research experts equipped with the know-how and multi-disciplinary skills to develop future sustainable packaging solutions.

Project coordinator, Professor Chris Breen, of the University’s Materials and Engineering Research Institute, said, Currently very few researchers are trained to deal with such a broad variety of disciplines, and are therefore insufficiently prepared to assist with the commercial challenges of delivering sustainable packages that are both economically viable and environmentally fit for purpose.”

He added the training aspect of the project was a major part to create the experts, “who will drive continuing progress in sustainable packaging.”

Source: Packaging Digest

10 tips for sustainable package design

For nearly a decade, the biggest buzz in packaging has been the move toward sustainability, or “green” packaging. Driven by retailer requirements, public perception, economic pressures (petroleum, in particular), and government policies, sustainability impacts every aspect of a package-from the source of its raw materials to its end of life-and as such has proven to be an incredibly complex issue.

But over the years of debate and discovery, we have learned some core truths about the topic. First, there is no such thing today as a completely sustainable package. Instead, sustainability is a journey. The goal is to make incremental improvements over time in the sustainability of a package to reduce its overall environmental impact.

Second, in sustainability terms, packaging materials-including glass, plastic, paper, and aluminum-cannot be classified as good or bad. Each has its advantages and shortcomings, depending upon the product application and the goals and mission of the packager. Trade-offs are an inherent part of pursuing sustainability.

And last, packaging must be put into perspective by understanding its role in the full product supply chain. Packaging typically makes up less than 10% of the carbon footprint of a product; raw material production and consumer use often comprise the largest proportion. While packaging’s footprint may be small, its importance cannot be understated. If the package fails in its primary functions-protecting the product through the supply chain, enticing consumers to purchase, and facilitating consumption-all the energy consumed in manufacturing the product is lost when the product is wasted.

With these fundamentals in mind, following are some areas to consider when implementing changes to your packaging for improved sustainability:

1. Take a life-cycle approach to package design. There are many Life-Cycle Assessment (LCA) tools available today to help package designers understand the environmental impacts represented by different packaging options. One is the Sustainable Packaging Coalition’s COMPASS® (Comparative Packaging Assessment) online design software, which helps users make more informed material selections and design decisions by providing visual guidance on a common set of environmental indicators. PackageSmart LCA Software, one of several software-based LCA tools from EarthShift,
also allows packaging designers to evaluate the environmental impacts of their design selections.

One caveat, however: Sustainability metrics and standards are still evolving, so pick a program, and stick with it. Using different tools to measure the same package may yield slightly different results. The key is to be consistent and make sure you are moving in the right direction in the core environmental areas that are of greatest concern to your company.

2. Evaluate each component of your package. Ask yourself, “Can changes be made to use less material without compromising product integrity?” One successful example is all-natural sports drink-maker LIV Organic’s move from a traditional PET bottle to one with Amcor’s Groovy finish technology, which uses 31% less resin than a standard 38-mm finish. After LIV implemented the new design, the total weight of its 16.9-oz bottle was reduced 14.6%, from 36.8 g to 31.4 g. The technology also enabled the use of caps with 20% to 25% less resin.

Another example is GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare’s Os-Cal calcium supplement. In 2010, GSK rolled out redesigned packaging that included a high-density polyethylene supplement bottle in a bold, full-body shrink-sleeve label capable of holding all product information. Scrapped were the product’s secondary carton and an insert with outdated graphics. On an annual basis, GSK says the new package saves approximately 208 tons of paper, or 1,440 trees; eliminates nearly 330,000 lb of CO2 emissions (the equivalent of removing 30 cars from the road); and conserves about 2,052 million BTUs, or the energy used by 23 U.S. homes.

Suppliers are continually innovating with containers, caps, labels, and other components that improve the package-to-product ratio, resulting in a smaller footprint, and oftentimes in a smaller price tag, as well.

3. Consider new alternatives for distribution packaging. New machinery and material technologies are enabling packagers to use fewer materials to create multipacks, bundles, and pallets, as well as create shelf-ready packaging that minimizes waste at the retailer level.

For water distributor Unlimited Water Processing, Inc., switching from corrugated cases to new shrink-pack technology for its bottled water bundles was a risk that paid off. The Nested Pack™ from Polypack positions bottles in a staggered-row configuration that results in a sturdy, stable shrink-wrapped bundle that eliminates the need for corrugated trays or pads. After implementing the Nested Pack, Unlimited Water reduced its cost per case from roughly 45 cents to just 10 cents. And, according to company owner Elliott Henry, customers love the new package because it uses fewer materials, is easier to dispose of, and is more attractive.

Several options exist for more sustainable stretch wrapping/palletizing, including machines engineered to optimize film use. Another method is the elimination of stretch wrap and hot melt in favor of removable adhesives, such as those from Lock n’ Pop, that stabilize loads while reducing the footprint of the pallet. In California, artisanal food maker Premier Organics is employing a reusable polypropylene pallet cover that can be used up to 250 times. The company estimates that the system will eliminate 4,500 lb of material annually, or about 40% of its pallet-wrap usage.

4. Look for opportunities to make your packaging reusable—where it makes sense. In Costa Rica, Pizza Hut customers have been introduced to a new pizza box design that allows the box to be broken down into plates and a smaller box for leftovers. In 2010, Kentucky Fried Chicken debuted its Reusable KFC Sides Container. Made of polypropylene, with patented “ventless vent technology” that allows moisture to escape without requiring a hole in the lid, the clear container with red lid is promoted as being reusable, and microwave- and dishwasher-safe.

But reusability is not just for food packaging. PUMA garnered great attention when it introduced its “Clever Little Bag,” an attractive, reusable, red shoe bag used to package its footwear. As a result of the change, PUMA reduced its paper consumption by 65% and estimated it would reduce water, energy, and diesel consumption at the manufacturing level by more than 60% per year.

5. Consider changes in your product. The best example of a product category that has undergone significant change to accommodate more sustainable packaging is household cleaning products. Beginning with laundry detergents and rippling through other cleaner and chemical products, CPGs have turned to concentrated formulas to reduce the amount of water shipped from factory to retail shelf and to enable smaller package sizes. Perhaps the most compact of all: Method’s 8X-concentrated laundry detergent formula can wash 50 loads per 20-oz bottle, and 25 loads per 10-oz bottle. Also popular in the cleaning products industry have been systems that combine concentrated product refills with reusable packaging.

Another lesser-known yet very innovative example of a product modified to affect changes in packaging is General Mills’ Betty Crocker Hamburger Helper. Several years ago, the company reengineered the physical properties of the noodles within the meals to enable the design of a smaller carton size. The change resulted in a savings of 890,000 lb/yr of paper fiber, an 11% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs), and the elimination of 500 trucks on the road per year.

6. Whenever possible, design for recyclability. One of the most effective ways to preserve the energy expended in manufacturing packaging materials is through recycling. While many materials, such as paper and PET, may be widely recycled, oftentimes coatings, labels, and other elements added to enhance package functionality or aesthetics may render them unfit for the recycling stream. But new options are emerging.

One promising technology is from Smart Planet Technologies. The company’s EarthCoating can be used as an alternative to 100% polyethylene coatings in high-barrier folding carton applications. EarthCoating’s formulation includes powdered minerals, which reduces the plastic content in the coating, allowing the finished packaging material to be recycled under ISRI recyclability standards.

From PaperWorks Industries, a filmless holographic technology called HoloBrite™ is now being used for packaging to achieve a shimmering holographic appearance without the use of a film lamination. This process results in a package that can be recycled in traditional paperboard recycling streams without contamination from polyester and metal. In 2010, GSK Consumer Healthcare used the decorative process with a metallic coating from Henkel to create eye-catching, recyclable paperboard packaging for its Aquafresh White & Shine toothpaste brand.

Another new recyclable (and recycled-content) package technology that has caused consumers to take a second look is molded-pulp packaging from Ecologic Brands. The most well publicized application of the material is from Seventh Generation, which launched its 4X-concentrated liquid laundry detergent in the package in 2011. The container consists of a molded-pulp outer shell made from 70% recycled cardboard (OCC) and 30% old newspapers (ONP) that can be recycled up to seven times. The package’s inner film pouch with spout has been constructed of polyethylene only, making it suitable for recycling with plastic grocery bags, while the pack’s polypropylene closure is recyclable through Preserve’s Gimme 5 recycling program.

7. Employ packaging strategies that encourage product consumption. Approximately 34 million tons of food waste are generated in the U.S. each year, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. So packaging that increases the likelihood that the majority of a product is consumed provides a tremendous sustainability advantage. Among the technologies that can be used to help reduce food waste are reclosable features, clearly marked use-by dates, and technologies that assist in evacuating all of a product from its package. Hellmann’s Easy Out! Mayonnaise package employs a nonstick surface on the inside of the container that provides the slip properties needed to get the last bit of mayo from the jar.

And, while bulk packaging may seem a more sustainable alternative than single-serve packages, given its smaller package-to-product ratio, single-serve may prove a more environmentally friendly option if it ensures product consumption.

8. Know where your packaging materials come from. Increasingly, retailers and consumers are looking to CPGs for transparency. It is to your benefit to make sure you are using responsibly sourced packaging materials. For example, toy manufacturer Mattel recently faced very vocal criticism from Greenpeace, which accused Mattel of using paperboard packaging that contained significant amounts of timber from Indonesian rain forests. Since then, Mattel has launched new sustainable sourcing principles to guide its procurement of paper and wood fiber. Hasbro quickly followed suit.

For Stonyfield Farm, the use of non-Genetically Modified (GM) crops is a core value. When it switched to corn-based bioplastic for some of its yogurt cups, it learned its resin supplier could not guarantee the use of non-GMO corn in its feedstock. So Stonyfield became the first major purchaser of offsets through the Working Landscapes Certificates, which ensures that an equivalent amount of corn is grown to sustainable agriculture standards.

9. Evaluate your distribution system for space-saving opportunities. In a presentation at Michigan State University’s second annual Packaging Executives Forum, consultant Kevin Howard of Packnomics, LLC, emphasized the importance of designing packaging “from the outside in, rather than from the inside out,” to minimize distribution logistics costs. “It is vital to understand what is happening in your own environment,” he said. “Some packages that don’t pass ISTM [International Safe Transit Assn.] standards pass real-world tests and vice versa. Walk through your distribution pipeline.”

His message, in “Space…The Final Frontier,” was that wasted space in packaging results in excess materials, transport, handling, and storage. To reduce a package size while maintaining its integrity, he noted that the packager must begin by understanding the known sizing of the transport mode that will be used and then minimizing the package size to hold everything at the lowest possible cost.

Other takeaways: “Space is found around components, inside of boxes, on pallets and between pallets,” “Maximizing load density is vital to minimizing environmental impact,” and “Space costs money… minimize it!”

10. Consider materials made from renewable feedstock. Packaging based on renewable feedstocks-from bioplastics made of corn or sugarcane, to protective packaging constructed of mushroom roots-is a rapidly growing area. But there are many questions still to be answered regarding the viability of some of these technologies and their relative sustainability versus traditional materials.

When evaluating renewable feedstocks for use in packaging materials, as advised above: Use a full life-cycle approach; understand how these materials perform in the recycling stream; know where the raw materials are sourced from; and ensure that the resulting packaging provides the required functionality for your product.

Above all, be very wary of additives and other technologies that promise to make packaging “just disappear.” While it is a very alluring idea, many scientific experts debate the environmental safety of such technologies.

Source: Packaging World

Canadian retailers address PET thermoform recycling

In a demand by grocery members of the Retail Council of Canada (RCC) in conjunction with the Association of Postconsumer Recyclers and the National Association for PET Container Resources to increase the availability of recycled packaging in their stores, a new protocol has been introduced to determine the environmental impact of labels and adhesives on PET thermoform packaging recycling capabilities.

The dilemma at hand is the glue used to attach labels to the container is often to strong and thus prevent the label from being removed and recycled properly. The protocol being developed will help identify and adhesive that both satisfies the need for the label adhere to the packaging and the need for proper removal and recycling. Also taking part in crafting new guidelines for adhesive labeling is The Adhesive and Sealant Council (ASC).

According to Allen Langdon, vice president of sustainability for RCC, “This protocol will play a pivotal role in allowing PET thermoformed packaging to be recycled in the most efficient way possible.”

One of the fastest growing types of packaging in the market is PET thermoformed packaging, according to RCC; its use is extensive by grocers ranging from the in-house packaging of food products such as produce, nuts, dried fruit, and baked goods. With support from Waste Diversion Ontario, Stewardship Ontario, and the Canadian Plastics Industry Association, RCC grocery members have been working with NAPCOR and APR to remove the obstacles preventing the recycling of PET thermoformed packaging.

To read more click here:

Source: Packaging World