Sustainable Packaging

What exactly is Sustainable Packaging?


Anyone in the packaging industry has at least heard the phrase "sustainable packaging" or the term "sustainability".  But how many people actually know what these words encompass?  To many people, when they hear sustainable packaging, the probably think of recycling.  While recycling does play its role, many other criteria must be met to achieve truly sustainable packaging.

The Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC) out of Charlottesville, Virginia sets forth several criteria in its' definition of sustainable packaging.  According to the SPC, sustainable packaging:

  * is beneficial, safe and healthy for individuals and communities throughout its life cycle
  * meets market criteria for performance and cost
  * is sourced, manufactured, transported and recycled using renewable energy
  * optimizes the use of renewable or recycled source material 
  * is manufactured using clean production technologies and best practices
  * is made from materials healthy throughout the life cycle
  * is physically designed to optimize materials and energy
  * is effectively recovered and utilized in biological and/or industrial closed loop cycles

The definition is an attempt to make packagers, manufacturers, retailers and consumers focus on the entire life cycle of a product rather than just save what can be saved at the end of a product and package life.  For a more detailed description of the definition, and the reasoning behind the criteria, visit the SPC website at: http://www.sustainablepackaging.org/

Each group mentioned above is now pushing a trend toward sustainable packaging, whether doing so 
intentionally or unintentionally.  For example, consumer awareness has led to a demand for environmentally friendly packages and products.  In turn, the retailers dedicate more shelf space to those products that meet the consumers demand.  Those making the products then reimagine products, packages and marketing based on these same consumer demands and the desire to occupy the shelf space in retail giants like Wal-Mart.  Manufacturers of packaging machinery must then also meet the demand for environmentally safe, yet also secure, packaging processes.  In this scenario, the simple demand by the customer for sustainable packaging sets in motion a process that will change the product, change the package and even change the filling equipment, capping machines, rinsers and other equipment used to place the product into the package.  

While the above scenario is theoretical, this scenario is truly playing out as you read this article.  Consider, for example, that Wal-Mart, one of the largest retailers in the world, uses a Sustainable Packaging Scorecard to rate suppliers.  Not only do they use the scorecard, but they offer their suppliers a research and development tool to assist their suppliers in making their packaging more sustainable.  Don't want to lose your shelf space at Wal-Mart?  Then you better pay attention to the sustainabililty of your product, package and packaging process.  http://walmartstores.com/sustainability/  

A sustainable packaging process will include the necessary machinery, and the correct machinery, to package your product. From container cleaning equipment, filling and capping machines, to labelers, pallet wrappers and more, Liquid Packaging Solutions can design, build, integrate and install a sustainable packaging line.  If you have questions regarding sustainable packaging or any of the packaging equipment offered by LPS, please feel free to call our offices at 1-888-393-3693.