Sustainable Packaging… what is it really?

Sustainable Packaging… seems like a pretty generic topic, right? If you are me, and you think sustainability, there are a few things that come to mind.  Flashes of a childhood saying, and mini sing along songs, like… Reduce, Re-Use, Recycle…Yeah! (come ‘on sing it with me now! ).. play over and over in my head.  When it comes to sustainability in packaging, most of this age old statement stays true, but there is so much more that is involved.

Cradle to Grave Considerations

After dong a little research, and reading articles from the Sustainable Packaging Coalition, I’ve found that in fact, this is still true…. just in a roundabout way. Basically for packaging to be sustainable, it must positively address current environmental concerns.  These concerns relate to the entire life cycle of the packaging product (cradle to grave).  Sustainable packaging meets market criteria for performance and cost. It is made entirely from using renewable energy sources.  Once used, the product recycles efficiently to provide a valuable resource for re-use.

Utilizing sustainable packaging has many benefits! It creates a safer and healthier earth for our friends, families and communities now and for future generations. “Sustainable” packaging products have these characteristics:

  • Are sourced, manufactured, transported, and recycled primarily with renewable energy
  • Use renewable or recycled source materials
  • Manufacturers use clean production technologies and best practices
  • Material components have a zero negative impact on human health throughout the life cycle
  • Product is effectively recovered and utilized in biological or industrial closed loop style systems

Corporate and Community Value

What does this mean, for you… you ask? Let’s talk about the value for you as a company. There are important employee impacts such as improved occupational health and safety, as well as clean technology. The integral package design goal is to help reduce the use of materials, and optimize both materials and energy.

We are Here to Help

Nichols provides internal resources when it comes to sustainability and packaging, passing this value add directly to you.

Chris LaVallee, Nichols Packaging Engineer considers sustainable packaging options for our customers. By providing options that fit with their available recycling streams.  A lot of times this maybe reducing use of foams or a unique resin based material by providing paper based materials like corrugated and honeycomb.  When paper based packaging arrives at an end user it is more commonly recycled and provides a “green image.”

Another huge part of providing sustainable packaging solutions is the concept of “dematerialization.”  This is the idea that no matter what you’re using if you can figure out a way to do the job with less, then it is great for everyone in the supply chain.  I would say most if not all of our customers have projects going which involves redesigning, “right-sizing” or adding efficiencies to operations in order to optimize the right usage of packaging materials.

We are continually looking for ways to help you reduce your overall footprint, while protecting and containing your important investment. Nichols has a team of packaging sales professionals that constantly encounter question related to sustainable packaging objectives. We also have four on-staff Packaging Engineers and our LEED AP Vice President of Sustainability. They provide everything you need to re-evaluate how you achieve “Safe Shipment of Product” with less environmental impact.

For a packaging evaluation, just shoot us a request to [email protected]