Future Seen Bright for Sustainable Packaging

Majority of companies adopting a sustainable packaging policy; focus more on hard benefits, according to report from Tompkins' Supply Chain Consortium

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Raleigh, NC — November 16, 2009 — More than 65 percent of companies have some type of sustainable packaging policy in place, while 28 percent are currently developing a policy, according to a Tompkins' Supply Chain Consortium survey of top retail- and manufacturing-related companies.

The consortium is a source for supply chain benchmarking and best practices knowledge, with more than 300 participating retail, manufacturing and wholesale/distribution companies. The group conducted research into sustainable packaging as a follow-up to a 2007 study by Packaging Digest and the Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC).

For 79 percent of companies, packaging sustainability impacts their strategic direction in the area of energy and material costs, and 76 percent see an impact in environmental and economic concerns. At the same time, executives see less of an impact in the areas of increasing competitiveness and access to new markets, indicating that sustainable packaging may be more about "hard" savings rather than "soft" benefits.

"When projecting the evolution of sustainable packaging, the future appears to be bright," says Bruce Tompkins, executive director of the consortium and author of the new report. "Sustainable packaging is a very important issue for all types of companies across all aspects of their supply chains, and it continues to be thought of as a long-term, higher-level strategic process that provides overall direction to the organization."

To improve their use of packaging sustainability initiatives, respondents say that that they need a better collection and recovery process; higher end-user awareness; a better designed supply chain; and a lifecycle analysis process that identifies the cost effectiveness of sustainability initiatives.

"Sustainable packaging projects are resting on the shoulders of transportation efficiency, improved package handling, and the percentage of recycled content in the packaging material," adds Tompkins, who is a former vice president of manufacturing for Maytag. "Initiatives that are 'green' (financially) and 'green' (environmentally) are needed."

The most common guidelines included in the surveyed companies' sustainability packaging policies are for design (55 percent of respondents) and recycled content specifications (48 percent of respondents). Twenty-eight percent do not have any specific guidelines in their packaging sustainability policy. However, these companies may still be developing a policy.

The Packaging Sustainability survey is the first of a four-part series being conducted by the consortium. Upcoming reports will cover transportation sustainability, greening facilities, and waste and recycling.

The report can be accessed (registration required) at www.tompkinsinc.com/2009/pr/report.

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