Sustainability through Packaging

It’s not a business choice—it’s a responsibility to the global supply chain


With 20-plus years of experience in the reusable market, Koefelda discussed how businesses can drive corporate sustainability through their supply chains today, identifying a number of sustainability goals of importance to businesses today which include:

  • Increasing consumer value
  • Communicating sustainability effectively
  • Benchmarking sustainability for upper management

 

Through its EZ Pal One-Touch Delivery System, Rehrig removes the cost from the delivery point and brings that back to the warehouse, according to Koefelda. Using the EZ Lift instead of a hand truck reduces the number of movements required for each store. As such, productivity and efficiency is increased because more stops can be made per day, reducing the number of routes required to deliver the same number of cases.

More important to note, pallets are no longer an afterthought in the distribution and warehouse space as their engineering and design is the key factor necessary to uphold heavy volumes of product throughout the delivery and distribution process.

“If you can provide a product that reduces cost but helps the production cycle with a sustainable footprint, that’s what makes the job so great,” shared Christian Ueland, General Manager of TranPak Inc.

A provider of plastic pallets, bins, totes, cases and more, what sets TranPak apart is their ability to provide bins and pallets in smaller form factors and various colors, which addresses the issue that previously, delivering small sizes was difficult to supply in the industry, explained Ueland. For example, the company’s collapsible bin 7048 series include bulk containers which collapse when empty for reduced return transportation costs and warehouse space savings; but are fully recyclable at the end of their service life.

Smaller sometimes is better

Of industry importance when it comes to delivering sustainable packaging, Seaver explained, is the notion that value does not always come in the form of larger package sizes but instead, it comes in the impact that a product pack conveys.

“We look at packaging to bring products both safely and efficiently to market—but we also see packaging as a waste,” said Seaver. “And the way things come to us is as important as the product itself. It’s easy to use packaging to align your products with issues that a community cares about—such as jobs, costs and sustainability.”

In a brief but impactful presentation—in conjunction with DDL President Patrick Nolan’s presentation on sustainable packaging misconceptions—the Responsible Packaging Institute (RPI), is one such fairly new organization, founded by Michael White, formed to educate consumers about the effect that over-packaging has on the environment. In addressing the issues with over packaging, RPI will work with DDL Inc., which drives quality testing in the medical device package, product and materials space, on various functions for improvement planning. RPI also works to develop new programs to provide independent third-party certification.

Adopt a wide-angle lens to address the packaging issues of today

Regardless of what packaging a manufacturer utilizes—whether a window box for toys, a poster card or a bag for perishable goods—the message that a package delivers through its form is the key element that resonates with a customer in the long-term. In fact, as food service companies get smarter about sustainability, students and chefs become as concerned about what is going out the back door of a restaurant or school as what is coming through the front door, explained Seaver. Whether sustainability starts with the consumer or a manufacturer, the question can be debated for months after this tradeshow report is published. But the fact holds true that sustainability must start somewhere. And whether it comes first from the manufacturers, the service providers, the consumers or the businesses that impact the global supply chain, whether indirectly or directly—everyone is responsible for their actions they take to identify what it is they are trying to sustain.

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