Posted on April 22, 2021 by Dennis Salazar

Earth Day Message: Sustainable Packaging – The Forgotten “R”

Earth Day always seems like a good day to review what we have all accomplished to minimize waste and make what we do as eco-friendly as possible. The fact is that we have been officially working at this since we started our company in 2007 and even longer if you count our years in the packaging industry which is now approaching the 50-year milestone.

It seems like a lifetime ago but in 2007, I wrote a blog post I titled Am I Retrainable for Sustainable and it still lives on thanks to great web resources like Green Biz. If you read it, you will understand why we believe we have been green since way before it became cool or trendy to be green.

In the beginning, there were only three “R’s”, which were Reduce, Recycle and Reuse. As usual, people tried to improve on that and began adding a fourth “R”. Some liked Review, others preferred Repurpose, and some took a liking to Recover. These are all good thoughts and worthwhile additions, but I think it misses an even more important one we believe in and that is Redesign.

Packaging Redesign – Sustainability is making less do more.

Reducing material consumption is only half the battle and that can easily and quickly be done by using thinner board. This is good but it often results in product damage ad unhappy customers. We believe for example it makes little sense to reduce material by 4% and have damage claims spike from under 1% to 8% or more.

The goal is never to make a package weaker just save a few cents, by making the board thinner or of a lesser grade. The objective is to maximize the product protection but do it with as few square inches of corrugated board as possible. In todays’ e-commerce world, it is also about the unboxing experience. How is the product being presented to the consumer or recipient when it is received?

The Ta-Da Box – a great sustainable packaging example 

On an application like our Ta-Da box (first related post below), there were several ways we could have accomplished a slight cost and material reduction. However, by redesigning the box from a die cut, front lock box to an OPF (one panel folder) we were able to reduce board consumption by over 30% while creating a unique unboxing experience.

In other applications we eliminate foam, bubble, loose fill, or other non-green internal packaging products, and replace them with a corrugated insert design that shows off and protects the product being shipped. This not only makes the product visible and attractive, but we also make the entire package easy to assemble recycle at curbside.

Reducing natural AND human resources

In some markets finding good labor is proving more difficult, especially for entry level or plant packer type positions. So many clients come to us wanting to make order picking and packing more efficient. In many cases we work directly with our customer’s 3PL or fulfillment company to determine where the bottle necks are. Eliminating those type of issues can be incredibly helpful to the packers making their work more enjoyable and productive. When this can be accomplished in conjunction with a material and cost reduction, you now have savings on top of savings. In today’s fast rising corrugated market, that is always a good thing to do.

Free sustainable packaging review

What we offer is especially important for new, and startup companies. Many do not make the best packaging decisions when starting out. Or some cases, they chose packaging that was appropriate for where they were at that time but have long outgrown those products and methods.

For that reason, one of our branded packaging advisors will be glad to discuss your needs.  Once we understand your objectives, we can help you determine the best way to get there. Call us at 630-551-1700 or contact us via email for a no cost, no obligation analysis by a staff that has helped hundreds of customers make millions of boxes that are effective and environmentally responsible. That is something we do daily, not just on Earth Day!


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