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The Power of Packaging

January 3, 2014

Making your business more sustainable isn’t always as tricky as it sounds.  There are myriad methods that are both cost-effective and easily achievable – and one such issue to be considered in your business’ sustainability strategy is packaging.

There are two sides of the packaging coin worthy of mention: minimization, and more sustainable packaging options or alternatives.

Minimization is a solution to the very serious problem of over-packaging.  Consider that packaging makes up about 40 percent of all solid waste – materials we don’t even want or need, including cardboard boxes, plastics, and foam.  The packaging we throw away annually totals nearly 39 million tons of paper/paperboard, 13 million tons of plastic, and 11 million tons of glass.  That’s a phenomenal waste of raw materials.

Businesses often over-package their products without realizing it, but it doesn’t have to be that way.  Those same businesses can significantly minimize packaging waste with some careful thought and planning.  Go back to the drawing board, and re-think the way you package your products.  Is it all necessary?  Focus on efficiency. It sounds simple, but the benefits cannot be overstated.  Remember: prevention is always the most effective waste minimization technique.

Packaging can certainly be reduced (and in some cases completely eliminated), but it is also sometimes necessary for safety, preservation, and marketing purposes.  This is where the relatively new concept of sustainable packaging comes into play.

Simply put, sustainable packaging is packaging created via environmentally-sensitive methods, including energy efficiency, reusability, and recyclable and biodegrabable materials.  The Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC) is an industry working group committed to a more robust environmental vision for packaging. Through a science-based approach and supply chain collaborations, the SPC aspires to build better packaging systems for sustainability.

According to the SPC, sustainable packaging:

  • Optimizes the use of renewable or recycled source materials;
  • Is manufactured using clean production technologies and best practices;
  • Is composed of materials healthy in all probable end of life scenarios;
  • Is physically designed to optimize materials and energy;
  • Is beneficial, safe & healthy for individuals and communities throughout its life cycle;
  • Meets market criteria for both performance and cost;
  • Is sourced, manufactured, transported, and recycled using renewable energy;
  • Is effectively recovered and utilized in biological and/or industrial closed loop cycles.

There are many companies worldwide that are already implementing sustainable packaging in everyday business, including Amazon (the Kindle DX packaging is 90% recyclable and 90% made from recycled materials), and Aveda (creates most of their packaging from high content post-consumer waste and uses 100% post consumer recycled PET for skin care and hair styling bottles and jars and renewable energy powers the manufacturing and filling of packaging).  It wouldn’t hurt to look to companies like this for a little inspiration.

For further assistance with business’ sustainability strategy, contact Hazardous Waste Experts today at 800-936-2311 to speak with an expert.

Disposal of hazardous waste doesn’t have to be painful.