One of the things I find most interesting about sustainable packaging as well as quite frustrating at times, is that it is constantly changing. We know firsthand that what was considered green just a short two years ago is no longer acceptable as the products, processes and popular thought have all changed.
The packaging for a new Canon desk top printer we recently purchased is a perfect example of this.
What Canon Used in Terms of Packaging
To get the printer from Thailand to us, Canon used a virtual smorgasbord of packaging and unfortunately most of it is not very green by today’s standards. The products they used are shown in the photo below and included:
• Almost 2,700 square inches of heavy-grade corrugated (4.9 lbs. worth)
• 4 molded poly styrene corner protectors
• 4 paper board tubes
• Various corrugated pads and inserts
• A few flexible foam surface protectors
• A wide variety of high density polyethylene sheets and bags
To their credit, everything that was not a paper based product included a recycle code, even the polystyrene corner protectors. They were clearly molded to show their PS, #6 recycle code. Good luck with that since there are few facilities able or willing to take in polystyrene in any form.
Current and Greener Alternatives
We know enough about interior, protective packaging to know that the molded EPS could have been easily replaced with die cut, ideally high-recycled content, corrugated inserts. The outer shipping box did not have to be a heavy duty box with a five color printed virgin grade litho label. Most of the plastic bags and flexible foam pads could now be made with plant based, oxo-biodegradable or other more eco friendly formulations.
As a company that does this for a living, the most startling fact is that most of these product alternatives would REDUCE the packaging cost, not increase it.
Green Beyond Words
The most ironic thing we noticed was Canon’s “Generation Green” emblem proudly displayed on the box. It states: Environmentally Conscious Products with the Next Generation in Mind.
That is a great, green marketing slogan but the packaging is not consistent with the message or mission. For that matter, how about offering some help figuring out what we can do with the old Canon printer we are replacing? You see we love the products, but the packaging? Not so much.