Wal-Mart Canada held their 6th annual Sustainable Packaging Conference at The Toronto Congress Center on June 19. Wal-Mart is a leader in sustainability with impressive initiatives in their own operations, products and suppliers and continues to raise awareness for the need to have sustainable packaging…so what is sustainable packaging anyway?
Many think that it just means using less or using recycled materials. This is true yet “Sustainable Packaging” can encompass so much more including manufacturing processes and life cycle. Protective packaging that effectively reduces product damage during transportation or packaging that increases shelf life of perishable products is also considered sustainable as it reduces waste.
In a nutshell: Reduction / Recyclable-ability / Renew-ability.
- Reduction: Can the amount of packaging material be reduced or designed to ensure successful shipping? Sometimes this means more packaging for certain products that are difficult to ship avoiding damaged goods.
- Recyclable-ability: Can the packaging be easily recycled using today’s available recycling facilities? Not just using the theory recycling. Many new packaging materials are being introduced that cannot be recycled in the current streams that exist for recycling.
- Renew-ability: Can the raw materials be replaced once used? Like a tree…you can re-plant one after one is removed. Today businesses should be considering these concerns when developing their products;
- How is it made?
- What is it made of?
- How and where is it transported?
- Is the protective packaging effectively reducing waste of damaged goods?
- Can it be recycled today?
Simple adjustments can be made within your supply chain to help become more sustainable such as:
- Reducing the distance traveled while transporting the raw materials and/or the delivery of the product to the consumer.
- Changing the raw materials used in the production process (using FSC certified lumber instead of non-certified lumber)
- Upgrading production equipment to more energy efficient equipment (switching from diesel powered to natural gas, installing solar panels)
For more information check out the following links:
ShareGreen – http://sharegreen.ca/
APR, the Association of Post consumer Plastic Recyclers – http://www.plasticsrecycling.org/
The Sustainable Packaging Coalition® (SPC) – http://www.sustainablepackaging.org/
Motivation: The Plant Bottle – http://www.thecoca-colacompany.com/citizenship/plantbottle.html
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