Inside Sustainable and Branded Packaging

Industry News and Perspectives

04 Jun 2009 Sustainable Packaging and the Magic Bullet

People who are eager to find quick and simple solutions to some of our most complex sustainability problems are often disappointed when they hear me say there is no packaging magic bullet that satisfies all requirements, at all times, and on all products. In fact, I would go so far as to say that rarely does one product do everything that is necessary for a tough application. If there is a “universal solution” to our eco dilemma, it is probably multiple products and resources working together, each bringing something unique, different and green to the application. One Tough Green Packaging Application bad-axe-eco-friendly-packagingSay hello to Bad Axe Tool Works, a company with a neat name, interesting web site and a premier manufacturer of cutting tools for woodworking and other wood related activities like pruning and clearing trees. When we met them they were concerned with preventing damage during shipment and making sure their packaging was as green as possible. Considering the incredibly sharp nature of their products, it was definitely a challenge. One Great, Excellent Packaging Partner Adams Foam in Chicago makes a terrific product called Green Cell Foam. The product is made from non-GMO corn, and after use, it can be recycled, composted or simply dissolved in water. It is also surprisingly tough and able to stand up to rugged applications like the one that was developing at Bad Axe Tools Works. We had conversations with the nice people at Adams Foam but nothing brings packaging people together like a good, challenging application and Bad Axe did indeed bring us together. What it Took to Get the Job Done (See Photos Below)
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02 Jun 2009 Corrugated Die Cut Mailers – A Greener, Eco Friendly, and Better Corrugated Box Option

eco-friendly-corrugated-mailers-lid-open They are known by many names including literature mailers, tuck and fold mailers, shipper boxes and even pizza boxes, but the corrugated die cut mailer is making a big comeback and guess what? It is greener and no longer white. What Makes These Corrugated Mailers Greener? In the past, virgin board was used to make these versatile shipping and storage containers but today we are making them out of recycled corrugated materials. More importantly they are being made out of 100% recycled material which means they cannot be white on the outside. Many people don’t realize it but when you give a box a white exterior, that outer layer (usually 1/3 of the overall board content) has to be virgin. If you want it white on the inside too, then 2/3 of the corrugated content must be made from virgin fibers. Remember our motto, a virgin fiber is a terrible thing to waste, especially when it is not necessary. Why Have Die Cut Mailers Been Historically White The theory was that they looked better, cleaner, nicer, etc. There is no argument about that when the product is shipped ... but have you ever seen one of those mailers when it arrives at its intended destination? Whether is ships via FedEx, UPS or USPS, the mailer no longer looks pristine or white upon arrival. Typically it is dirty, scuffed and even covered with fingerprints. The white outer layer looks great when it is shipped but the appearance rapidly degenerates as soon as it leaves the shipper’s facility. What Makes These Corrugated Mailers Better?
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28 May 2009 Soft-But-Firm Sustainable Packaging Solution

[caption id="attachment_423" align="alignnone" width="300"]Eco Nest Eco Friendly Void Fill Eco Nest Eco Friendly Void Fill[/caption] Those are words usually reserved for describing a mattress or pillow but it this case they are also the best way to describe our new Globe Guard Eco Nest void fill product.  It is very effective, undeniably green, an amazingly simple idea, and quite frankly it handles certain applications better and lower in cost than most “high tech” or “engineered” packaging solutions. Sustainable Packaging Simplicity Globe Guard Eco Nest is essentially nothing more that shredded corrugated board. Perhaps a little packaging science went into the determining the best width and length of the strands of corrugated board but it is as basic a concept as possible - used corrugated boxes are recycled, shredded and turned into protective, loose void fill. The product can be used over and over but when it is time for disposal, it can be recycled again and probably be used to make new corrugated boxes like our Globe Guard 100% recycled PCW corrugated boxes.  The whole concept and process is so simple, it’s almost ingenious. The Pros and Cons of Loose Void Fill The greatest benefit by far is that loose void fill easily and fully conforms to the shape of the product being packed. That is what makes products like foam peanuts appealing from a user/shipper perspective, though perhaps not from a receiver/customer perspective. Loose fill dispenses easily and quickly, is usually light weight, and most versions are relatively low in cost. The down side of loose fill is that it often settles and crushes, especially when used to pack dense, heavy products. It is not at all unusual to receive and open a package where the product being shipped has drifted to the bottom of the box and the loose fill packaging material has shifted to the top where it offers little or no protection. Globe Guard Eco Nest conforms and supports but does not breakdown. What Makes Globe Guard Eco Nest Different? When a bird makes a nest in a tree, the components, usually twigs and blades of grass, have little strength individually, however when woven and working together, they are amazingly strong and resilient. We have all seen a nest on the ground that fell from a tree due to a wind storm, and noticed it is always fully intact. That is the same concept that makes Globe Guard Eco Nest such a terrific product from a performance standpoint. The shredded corrugated strands mesh to support even the heaviest and most delicate products - even when they are shipped via USPS, UPS and FedEx.
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19 May 2009 Sustainable Secondary Packaging and the Third Party Shipper

It may sound like the title to an unusual movie or book, but the fact is that today it is not at all uncommon for an eco conscious e-commerce company (seller) to utilize a fulfillment company, third party logistics (3PL) company, or contract packager to fill, package and ship their customers’ orders. Outsourcing the fulfillment portion of the order process is an excellent way to minimize costs and focus on sales and marketing but it does have a potential down side, especially if the fulfillment company (shipper) does not share the same green values as the seller. The Biggest Risks of Using a Third Party Shipper eco-friendly-packaging-papers-and-corrugated-boxWhat you sacrifice when you turn fulfillment over to another company is control. For example, the people filling your valuable customer’s order are not your employees -  in fact they may not even be the employee of the company you are utilizing. More and more shipping companies use temporary labor services to satisfy their customer’s packaging requirements which can vary greatly with seasonal or other volume surges,  so the phrase “here today and gone tomorrow” certainly applies. In other words, there is little or no accountability for the person actually pulling and packing the order for you and for your customer. Another potential casualty of working with a third party shipper may unfortunately be eco-consistency. The eco friendliness of the packaging materials and the techniques being used, as well as the ultimate appearance of that package shipping to the customer, are completely in someone else’s hands. As a consumer, we all have been on the receiving end of a product that is over packaged, under packaged, or one that uses an excess of packaging materials we hate. For me,  it is foam peanuts of any size, shape or color. The shipper is setting the quality AND green standard for you in the eyes of your customers but remember - while the shipper is invisible to the customer,  you are not. When things go bad, you get the blame whether you deserve it or not. Packaging Sustainability and the Third Party Vendor Can Be a Beautiful Thing scanner-for-order-fulfillmentWe have been fortunate to be the supplier of choice in several of these seller/shipper situations and can tell you that when they work, they work great. One recent situation developed because the customer/seller introduced and recommended us to their fulfillment company. Obviously we had to overcome the relationships the shipper had with their existing packaging suppliers but eventually they saw the many benefits to their customer as well as with other present or potential customers. Today, being a “green fulfillment house” has many advantages as they soon realized when they quickly picked up another, substantial “green” client.
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12 May 2009 Can Sustainable Packaging Be Attractive and Decorative?

It sure can be and it can also be environmentally and socially responsible as well.  We are very pleased to announce a temporary addition to Globe Guard Products.com. Through a special, limited agreement with a top tier, well respected manufacturer, we are very pleased to offer eight of their eco-friendly decorative packaging products on a close out basis. Decorative sustainable packaging that is more than pretty on the outside eco-friendly-decorative-packaging-1All 100% natural and renewable materials were used on these products and the term “hand crafted” truly applies to them with all of the manufacturing performed off shore in a totally committed, fair trade environment. The products include -
  • Three different, beautiful handmade gift boxes, all made out of treeless paper.
  • A black Abaca bag with a bamboo lock
  • A very unique twine basket.
  • A beautifully crafted wooden tray that is perfect for product presentations.
  • Two different size, handmade, lightweight embroidered bags. Every bag has a unique and different embroidered design and the detailed work is rare in a product in this price range.
Where and how is decorative packaging used?
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30 Apr 2009 Hey Green Business Owner, Your Boxes Are Talking about You

What are your boxes saying about you? I have come to believe that every box has a story to tell about the person or company who sent it. I am quite sure that together with the other packaging/shipping materials being used, the box sends a silent but powerful message to the recipient about the shipper.
  • If you are utilizing “used/recycled” boxes are they saying you are conservative and considerate of the environment or are they screaming, cheap and uncaring about the image you project to your customers?
  • If you are using boxes that are obviously too large for the product(s) being shipped, are they communicating your lack of knowledge and/or concern about the correct use of packaging materials?
  • If your customer’s product arrives damaged, are your boxes saying that you would rather save a few cents than to develop a long term relationship with them?
  • If you are using a standard corrugated box with any percentage of virgin fiber, are your boxes admitting you are willing to sacrifice a few trees in a misinformed effort to save some money or time?
Our Green Customers Are Not Like Everyone Else And thank God they are not. However, this also means that we as a supplier to them, our packaging not only has to perform as well and be as cost competitive as everyone else’s, it also has to be as green as possible.
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28 Apr 2009 Eco Friendly Corrugated Boxes – “100% PCW” is Not 100% Bad or 100% Good

globe-guard-100-per-cent-pcw-stock-boxesIn the last week I’ve spoken with two people, one from a very large, green company and the other from a very small, green company. Both had very strong opinions about 100% PCW content corrugated boxes. “I must have 100% PCW or as close to 100% as possible,” one said. The other said, “I recently tried 100% PCW but it failed miserably”. Both comments demonstrated a basic misunderstanding about corrugated, how it is made and how even 100% PCW it can be modified to satisfy almost any application. I sincerely believe that the “100% PCW” requirement has in many cases become at best an ineffective guideline, and at worst a crutch for people who want to make a difficult decision, as simple as possible.  Corrugated made of PCW material is an excellent sustainable packaging solution and a critical part of a long term environmental solution, but it has to be combined with some basic product knowledge to be cost effective as well as performance effective. Corrugated Fun Facts. OK, not fun but good to know corrugated-side-viewFor over a hundred years, almost since it was first used to line and support men’s’ tall hats, corrugated board has been made virtually the same way. A sheet of corrugated board is made up of three approximately equal (by weight) components, two face liner board sheets and the medium (the fluted layer) in between the inner and outer sheets. If you make one of those three components 100% PCW, your board is approx. 33% PCW, two PCW components would result in 66% PCW, etc. Once you go below 100% PCW content on any of the components, the recycled content gets fairly “gray” but if someone is claiming 90% PCW, that is not only unlikely, it is virtually impossible. Since there is no accurate scientific way after production to verify the recycled content percentage or type (PCW or post production) of each component, a vendor is fairly free to claim almost any PCW percentage they care to.
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23 Apr 2009 Earth Day Overload?

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="176"]Al gore giving his global warming talk in Moun... Image via Wikipedia[/caption]
I am in the business of green as are most of my friends and acquaintances but there was more green noise yesterday than I could even stand or absorb. With all due respect and tongue in cheek, You know I am obligated to add to it. “Top Ten Signs You Might Have Over Done Earth Day” 1. You now work the word “Eco-nomical” into every conversation 2. Your “genius” Earth Day Party Hat Collection made out of used plastic milk bottles did not sell well 3. You won “best float” in the Earth Day parade because you were the only entry 4. You are now contemplating cosmetic surgery to look more like Al Gore or maybe Tipper. 5. Your friends and family got ill at your Earth Day party because of your previously used, recycled paper plates
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14 Apr 2009 A Book Review of “Packaging Sustainability”, by Wendy Jedlicka

packaging-sustainability-by-wendy-jedlickaIn the interest of full disclosure I have to tell you I consider Wendy a personal friend and ally in our efforts to help make the world greener through packaging. Even though the book includes a photograph of my incredibly cute granddaughter (intro, page VI) and a reprint of something I recently wrote (page 14), I have absolutely no problem being straightforward with my comments on her book. In fact I would dare to say our relationship and friendship would suffer if I was less than honest in my appraisal of Wendy’s work. “Sustainability isn’t hard: it’s just not simple” That is the opening thought Wendy shares with us in her introduction, and I will admit that my initial concern was that any book about sustainability authored by a designer, especially an accomplished, talented designer like Wendy, would be technical and therefore somewhat boring for the average, non-designer reader like yours truly. I am very pleased to say Wendy wrote a book that can and should be read by anyone and everyone interested in sustainability from a buyer or seller, user or provider perspective. In other words, almost anyone with even a passing interest in green or in packaging can and will enjoy and learn something from reading Packaging Sustainability. No magic solutions or secret ingredients provided Wendy offers no easy answers because there rarely are any. For the person interested in a quick solution or an easy way out, there is none to be had in this book or any other book that is truthful and well informed. On the plus side, this book does not read like a designer’s text book and is filled with excellent case studies, examples and of course Wendy’s well informed insight and very obvious experience. If you too have strong feelings about sustainability, you may not always fully agree with everything Wendy has written but you undoubtedly will conclude it is well thought out and well presented.
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09 Apr 2009 Sustainable Packaging – When Brown and White Make Green

kundorwahun-1One of the best parts of doing what we do is the opportunity to meet some really neat people doing some terrific things for the world we all share. We were recently contacted by Mark Simmons, one of the co-founders of www.Useless.org a unique company selling very useful products for a very good cause. They donate 10% of their profits to fund water and sanitation projects worldwide. Did someone say “eco-consistency”? Regular readers know that eco-consistency is my mantra, but when I spoke to Mark that was exactly what he was trying to accomplish. He was committed to buying packaging materials that communicated and confirmed his company’s very deep and sincere values of protecting the earth and “using less”. It sounded like a perfect application for Globe Guard 100% recycled PCW content corrugated boxes and it was. Eco friendly corrugated boxes – to print or not to print Even though we heavily promote our stock box unprinted program, we also understand the need for customization and branding. Today, well over half of our Globe Guard box business is custom grade, custom print or custom size. Realizing the importance of branding, especially at this early stage of his company’s development, Mark decided he wanted their logo printed on the box, in white - a most unusual color for box printing. I was not sure how white ink would turn out on a brown box, but the end result is a marvelous shade of green (packaging).
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