Walmart: Lessons learned from a commitment to packaging reduction






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Ron Sasine, Senior Director of Packaging, Private Brands, Walmart — Packaging Digest, 9/18/2013 4:16:27 PM





Ron SasineRon SasineThe results are in. Last year, we reached a goal we set back in 2007—to reduce packaging in the products we sell by 5 percent by 2013. This success was an exercise in collaboration and perseverance as we worked closely with suppliers, manufacturers and distributors to find new solutions and ultimately reach our goal. 

Achieving this milestone involved a number of multi-year initiatives to eliminate unnecessary packaging components, reduce the mass of the remaining packaging materials and optimize the performance of the packaging we use in each product category. As we worked to reduce packaging, we found that our greatest successes came when we optimized packaging. This approach not only consider the volume of the material used, but the integrity, portability, recyclability, reusability and overall life cycle of the materials we use to deliver products to our shelves safely and efficiently. The result is a more holistic approach that considers the environmental and economic impact of packaging throughout our supply chain. 

When we began our effort six years ago, the first obstacle we faced was finding a standard for measuring the amount of packaging we use and developing a procedure to track it over time. There weren’t any packaging reduction metrics commonly used across the packaging or retail industries, so we collaborated with packaging manufacturers, consumer products companies and a group of government entities and NGOs to create the Walmart Packaging Scorecard, a methodology for measuring and improving the environmental impact of the packaging we use. 

Here are just a few recent results from the grocery category:
Packaged salads: We cut plastic resin by an average of 40 percent, amounting to more than 1.2 million pounds of plastic film.
Bottled sauces: We made the packaging in a line of bottled sauces 44 percent lighter, improving our shipping efficiency.
Dairy: We reduced the amount of wood fiber used in the corrugated shipping cases for a line of dairy products by 18 percent.
Processed meat: We eliminated 26 percent of the corrugated used in shipping a line of processed meats by redesigning the shape and style of box.

As a result of these efforts, we not only reached our goal, but we were able to reduce the overall greenhouse gas impact of our packaging by an average of 9.8 percent in our Walmart U.S. stores, 9.1 percent in our Sam’s Clubs in the U.S. and 16 percent in our Walmart Canada stores. Our achievements in this area demonstrate the power of collaboration and the power of sustainability as a driver of innovation and business improvement. It’s at the heart of who we are and part of our mission to deliver everyday low prices to our customers.

With the new focus on optimization, we’ve created a framework for driving progress that can positively impact the business, cut costs, reduce waste and ensure product integrity through the entire product lifecycle—from transport to store shelves to customers’ homes.

But it doesn’t stop there. The next step in this process is the rollout of our Sustainability Index. Now being used in select categories, this index helps us evaluate packaging as one piece of the bigger puzzle of product sustainability. The index will help us keep a spotlight on those categories where packaging has been identified as an area of key environmental and market concern. At the same time, it will allow us to raise the visibility of other issues impacting supply chain sustainability and apply our size and scale to find broader solutions.

To learn more about Walmart’s global sustainability efforts, visit The Green Room.

 

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Does cosmetic packaging need a makeover?






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posted by Kari Embree, Senior Digital Content Editor — Packaging Digest, 8/23/2013 10:15:00 AM





 

 

Sustainable Cosmetics Summit

 

Cosmetic companies are making slow progress in reducing their packaging footprints. Although the cosmetics industry has become preoccupied with green initiatives, few steps have been made to tackle the environmental impact of packaging.

Organic Monitor (www.organicmonitor.com) research finds most developments are occurring in ecodesign, with many brands reducing packaging materials by changing design structures. The Brazilian company Natura Brasil is a frontrunner in sustainable design. Its recent launch of its mass market SOU brand epitomises the packaging trend. SOU skin care products are housed in flexible packaging that have 70 percent less plastic than rigid plastic containers of the same volume.

As will be shown at upcoming editions of the Sustainable Cosmetics Summit (www.sustainablecosmeticssummit.com), most changes in packaging design are only leading to an incremental decrease in packaging materials. In some cases, any ecological benefits from less packaging material are offset by higher unit sales. More radical solutions involving materials are necessary to make significant changes to the packaging impact of cosmetic products.

Relatively few developments are occurring in packaging materials. Although some cosmetic brands are experimenting with sustainable materials like bamboo and wood, plastic packaging still prevails. High raw material costs and inadequate waste disposal methods give plastic packaging a very high environmental footprint. According to the OECD, packaging comprises over half of all household waste in developed countries, with plastics having most effect in landfill.

Plant-based plastics, once hailed because of their biodegradable nature, have yet to make headway in cosmetic applications. Some companies like Procter & Gamble are using hybrid polymers to overcome the limitations of bioplastics. Its Pantene Pro-V Nature Fusion packaging is mainly made from biopolymers sourced from sugar cane.

Unilever is one of the few companies considering a packaging overhaul to address its environmental footprint. The Anglo-Dutch multinational introduced a new ‘compressed’ can for a number of its deodorant brands earlier this year. The deodorant cans are about a third smaller, reducing packaging material costs as well as transportation costs. However, few companies have managed to innovate with green packaging.

 

There are also calls for the cosmetics industry to take some responsibility for waste management. In Brazil, the cosmetics association ABIHPEC is working with municipal agencies to collect and recycle packaging waste. In the US, Tom’s of Maine has partnered with Teracycle to collect its packaging waste and use it in new product applications. A closed loop system whereby waste is used as raw materials is considered the way forward for many cosmetic brands taking the green road.

Sustainable packaging is a focal theme of the upcoming Latin American and European editions of the Sustainable Cosmetics Summit. Discussion topics include environmental impact of packaging, ecodesign innovations, novel packaging materials, bioplastics in cosmetics, and green packaging success stories; papers will be given by Natura Brasil, Procter & Gamble, Unilever, Arkema, Selerant, Aptar, ABIHPEC and other organizations involved in sustainability.

 

Source: Organic Monitor

 

 

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Inland Label Selected as MillerCoors’ 2012 Packaging Materials Supplier of the Year

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How Important is Consistent Clarity in a Thermoformed Package for Increased Sales?

According to Technomic, a food industry research and consulting firm, at the height of the economic downturn many consumers purchased retail prepared foods. But now as the economy recovers, some consumers are purchasing retail less often than they did just two years ago; in fact, 38% of today’s consumers say that they purchase prepared foods from traditional supermarkets each week—compared to 42% who said the same in 2010.

“These consumers may be reversing the patterns they set a couple of years ago by heading back to restaurants,” says Darren Tristano, vice president of Technomic. “For retailers to gain or maintain their share of foodservice dollars, they’ll need to clearly stand out from restaurants—especially since our data shows that consumers’ expectations are rising for the taste, quality, freshness and appearance of retailer prepared foods.”

In the food industry, the presentation of the food is just as important as the food itself.  Catching the consumer’s attention, especially in big stores can be difficult. A key differentiator between all of the food options available can be achieved by having a crystal clear package. As a result, numerous thermoformers are now realizing just with a simple switch to PET sheet for their packaging—they are able to increase sales.

One of the principal advantages of PET sheet is its optical clarity.  Packages made from PET sheet tend to show very little haziness compared to other available packaging materials.  Packaging made from PET sheet has even helped some thermoformers create an image of a “premium product” in a market or convenience store refrigerated case amongst their competitors. 

Yet, just by making the switch to PET, thermoformers have discovered they are not always able to produce a “truly” clear PET package every time. To resolve this industry wide issue, OCTAL developed a production process that has proven to successfully produce a consistently clear PET sheet.

“OCTAL’s propriety technology produces PET sheet directly from PET resin melt, resulting in a final product with significantly enhanced optical and mechanical properties. With direct-to-sheet PET product, DPET, OCTAL delivers the finest quality and most consistent PET sheet to enable thermoformers, brands and retail partners to realize unsurpassed reliability, consistently  higher yield, and packages with an unbeatable clear finish,” states William J. Barenberg, Jr., OCTAL’s chief operating officer.

OCTAL’s DPET provides increased gloss, no visual inclusions, finished parts without color variation, and with a high Intrinsic Viscosity (I.V.), unparalleled toughness.  DPET also requires up to five degrees less heat at standard draw ratios in the thermoforming process, which translates into less energy consumption and more savings for the customer.

“The OCTAL DPET process also brings the major advantage of a carbon footprint 25% below that of traditionally produced APET films.  The direct-to-sheet process eliminates the most energy-intensive and defect-prone processes to deliver a spotless sheet with a fraction of the energy,” stated William J. Barenberg, Jr., OCTAL’s chief operating officer.

Any thermoformer looking to attract and keep the consumers’ attention on the retail shelf through clearer package can simply make the switch to a PET sheet. However, before making any switch, it is best to test that PET sheet in a manufacturing environment to ensure that the consistent clarity promised from the supplier will be achieved.

Reference:  http://www.perishablenews.com/index.php?article=0027365

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Bio-Board project promotes packaging recyclability






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Posted by Jack Mans, Plant Operations Editor — Packaging Digest, 5/23/2013 4:11:34 PM





A EuroA - Bio-Board - rrr.jpgpean project called the Bio-Board project has been

instituted to develop sustainable protein-based paper and paperboard coating systems to increase the recyclability of food and beverage packaging materials. The BIO-BOARD project will build on past research that has revealed that whey protein coating can provide bio-degradable plastic layers that can replace existing plastic coatings in multilayer packaging and enhance their recyclability by separating the individual fractions of the multilayer packaging.

 

To this end, a tailored coating system based on the renewable raw material derived from agro waste and its technological application will be developed for extrusion coating paper, paperboard and cardboard to produce packaging materials. The base material for the coating will be innovative formulations based on proteins such as whey and residues from potato. Currently, half of the 50 million tons of whey produced annually in Europe from cheese production is discarded, while about 65,000 tons of dried fruit juice protein and 140,000 tons of dried potato pulp are produced during starch production annually within the EU that could be available for utilization.

The Bio-Board project coordinator Dr. Elodie Bugnicourt, from Barcelona-based IRIS (http://www.iris.cat), highlights that, “Bio-Board stands in response to the current demand from producers of coated paper, paperboard and cardboard manufacturers for a bioplastic that will enable them to substitute much of the currently used synthetic coating without compromising the barrier properties of the resulting packaging laminates and overcoming the current challenge to the recycling of such packaging. Bio-Board is based a holistic integrated environmental approach to increase the sustainability of materials and processes throughout their life cycle”.

The three-year project, which is composed by 14 partners from 10 European countries, has received funding from the European Community’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) managed by REA Research Executive Agency under grant agreement n°315313.







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‘Convenience’ food packaging changed our lives






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Posted by Lisa McTigue Pierce, Executive Editor — Packaging Digest, 5/20/2013 8:17:16 AM





Recloseable packaging and microwaveable plastic trays were named top packaging breakthroughs that most impacted peoples’ lives over the last 25 years in an on-line survey hosted by DuPont. Together the two categories of invention captured 48 percent of the votes. The online survey was available to industry professionals from Apr. 9 through May 10, 2013.

 

Recloseable packaging, which includes food-storage zipper locks and stand-up pouches, earned 27 percent of the votes. Microwaveable meals, enabled by “oven-able” packaging materials, captured 21 percent of the votes. Recycled content in consumer, industrial and community programs that support social goals earned 18 percent of the votes.

DuPont Survey packaging breakthroughs
“Over the 25 years, the DuPont Awards for Packaging Innovation has attracted a wide variety of truly innovative packaging developments, making this anniversary event the perfect time to honor those past achievements,” says  Shanna Moore, leader/of the DuPont Packaging Awards program. “In reflecting back on these breakthroughs, it’s hard to imagine what everyday life would be like today without them.”

DuPont created the voting project after reviewing hundreds of past winners and identifying six breakthrough groups that impacted our lives. Descriptions of those breakthroughs—which range from packaging that has enabled our current “on-the-go” lifestyle to centralized processing and packaging of meat that reduced waste and kept meat fresh longer—can be found on line here.

DuPont announced the breakthroughs that most transformed our lives during the company’s celebration of the winners of the 25th DuPont Awards for Packaging Innovation in Wilmington, DE. Nearly 300 people voted on the breakthrough choices.

The DuPont Awards for Packaging Innovation are the industry’s longest-running, global, independently judged celebration of innovation and collaboration throughout the value chain. Their sponsor, DuPont Packaging & Industrial Polymers, manufactures an extensive mix of adhesive, barrier, peelable lidding and sealant resins and provides a globally networked development team to work with customers on packaging programs that help protect the product, environment, improve shelf appeal, convenience and reduce cost in the food, cosmetics, medical products and other consumer goods and industrial packaging industries.

Source: DuPont

 

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Hair Care with Heart

Founded in 1989, by husband and wife team John and Lottie Davis, AG Hair boasts high standards for delivering a quality product as well as an equally discerning packaging. Available in 12,000 salons across North America AG is bottled and manufactured in Vancouver. AG is proud of the fact that they don’t use salt to thicken their shampoos, they don’t use paba, parabens, DEA or test on animals, and their philanthropic efforts to build a school per year in Africa, as a portion of the sale of every product goes towards the AG Women Leading Change Foundation.

AG’s commitment to educating women in Sub-saharan Africa influenced the packaging design for their latest product lineup AG Keratin Repair.  Aspiring to differentiate the new line of products from the array of AG varieties, while delivering a high-end look and avoiding the creation of custom tooling, to keep expenses down which would directly effect contributions to the Women Leading Change Foundation, AG set forth on a in-house packaging design project with lofty goals.

A jar with in-mold frosting caught brand owner Lottie Davis’ eye, which inspired the Keratin Repair line packaging design. Reflecting on the packaging decision, Kathy Siefke, materials manager, AG Hair says, “The frosting itself brings more of a luxury element to the line. One of the beauties of the line is there are no color additives in the resins so you get this very nice luxurious feel with just using a natural resin. The natural resin both reduces the packaging’s cost and its impact on the environment.” 

The lineup consists of various packaging materials to house the collection composed of five different hair care products: refuel, shampoo; restore, conditioner; reconstruct, anti-breakage mask; repair serum, anti-breakage sealant; and revamp, volumizing spray. 

Achieving a cohesive appearance throughout the Keratin Repair collection was taxing, working with a variety of different resins, stock components and finishes. Maintaining a consistent sage green and dark gray embellishment via use of silk-screen and wet-ink proved challenging as each packaging solution required a different application to achieve the uniformed look.

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Sealed Air and Ecovative Expand Relationship to Produce, Sell and Distribute Mushroom Packaging in Europe

Sealed Air Corporation (NYSE: SEE) and Ecovative Design LLC completed an agreement to expand their existing relationship in order to continue to accelerate the production, sales and distribution of Ecovative’s Mushroom Packaging in Europe.  Sealed Air plans to begin offering the products in Europe immediately.

Last year the two companies announced Sealed Air as the exclusive licensee for protective packaging in North America for Mushroom Packaging, a new technology for rapidly renewable and environmentally responsible packaging materials made from agricultural byproducts and mycelium, or mushroom roots.   In October 2012, Sealed Air launched Restore Mushroom Packaging, its first commercialized product using Ecovative’s biomaterial technology.

“The agreement builds upon our successful, ground breaking relationship with Sealed Air and continues the overall momentum for providing an innovative and effective alternative to petrochemical based packaging on a much larger scale,” said Eben Bayer, CEO of Ecovative. “We are confident that we can extend this momentum into the European marketplace.”

“Ecovative has had a great deal of success using the unique properties of mycelium for protective packaging. We are looking forward to meeting the performance needs of potential European customers through a variety of packaging applications using this technology,” said Ryan Flanagan, president of Sealed Air’s Protective Packaging business.  “Through our SmartLife commitment, we are reducing waste throughout the supply chain and helping our customers achieve their sustainability objectives by choosing the right solutions for the right needs, without sacrificing performance or cost competitiveness.”

Details of the transaction were not disclosed.  Sealed Air does not expect the transaction to be material to its consolidated financial position or results of operations.

About Sealed Air
Sealed Air is a global leader in food safety and security, facility hygiene and product protection. With widely recognized and inventive brands such as Bubble Wrap brand cushioning, Cryovac brand food packaging solutions and Diversey brand cleaning and hygiene solutions, Sealed Air offers efficient and sustainable solutions that create business value for customers, enhance the quality of life for consumers and provide a cleaner and healthier environment for future generations. Sealed Air generated revenue of approximately $7.6 billion in 2012, and has approximately 25,000 employees who serve customers in 175 countries.

About Ecovative
Founded in 2007, Ecovative is a materials science company developing a new class of home-compostable bioplastics based on mycelium, an organism akin to a living polymer. Ecovative’s high-performance products serve as environmentally responsible alternatives to traditional foam packaging, insulation, and other plastic-based materials. Ecovative was incubated at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Rensselaer, together with 3M Company and the DOEN Foundation, are significant investors in Ecovative. Ecovative has been recognized with numerous international awards for sustainability and “green” technologies, and was named a Tech Pioneer at the 2011 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Ecovative’s growth has been fueled by grants, prizes, and support from key partners including the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance.

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PIQET and DuPont Packaging & Industrial Polymers Collaborate for DuPont Packaging Awards Winners

This year marks the 25th DuPont Awards for Packaging Innovation.  The Awards are the industry’s longest running, independently judged global packaging awards program honoring packaging materials, processes, technology and service innovations. 

The DuPont Awards are open to brand owners, packaging designers, converters and manufacturers around the world and are regarded as the packaging industry’s most prestigious award.  The criteria for the awards are; excellence in Innovation, Sustainability and Waste/Cost Reduction.

For the first time in its 25 year history, DuPont will be awarding the Gold and Diamond winners a PIQET (Packaging Impact Quick Evaluation Tool) environmental impact assessment.  Created and managed by the Sustainable Packaging Alliance, PIQET is regarded globally as the leading streamlined LCA (Life Cycle Analysis) tool, allowing packaging technologists and designers the opportunity to understand the environmental impacts of their packaging, considering the entire supply chain, regardless of the materials used or territories where the packaging is manufactured and ultimately used. 

According to Graham Houlder, PIQET’s European Channel Partner, “PIQET allows companies to benchmark their packaging’s sustainability in a cost effective, quick and logical manner.”  For Jay Edwards, PIQET’s North American channel partner, “The ability to understand the impacts of either new or current packaging is important for businesses as they are increasingly considering sustainability in their project work.  The desire to create more sustainable packaging is important for industry to ensure longevity and meet consumer expectations.”

Shanna Moore, leader of the DuPont Packaging Awards program, views the introduction of the PIQET assessments as a “valuable contribution and positive collaboration to allow the winners the opportunity to understand their packaging’s sustainability in more depth by using a well-respected global tool such as PIQET.”

The winners will be presented at a gala function on Thursday, May 16, 2013 at the Hotel du Pont in Wilmington, Delaware USA.

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The road to recovery?






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Lisa McTigue Pierce, Executive Editor — Packaging Digest, 4/1/2013 5:25:00 PM





Victor BellVictor BellDemand for recycled-content packaging materials continues to grow in the U.S. But the market and infrastructure for collecting used materials suffers somewhat from various limitations, whether they be financial, logistical or emotional. 

Recently, there’s been an uptick in conversations around extended producer responsibility programs (voluntary) and/or regulations (mandatory) to help boost recycling rates—which would also help improve the supply of recycled materials.

Victor Bell, president of Environmental Packaging Intl. (EPI)—a consultancy specializing in global environmental packaging and product stewardship requirements—talks to Packaging Digest about the current and possible future state of EPR in the U.S.

 

Q: Who is initiating the EPR conversation today in the U.S. and why?


A: The conversation is being led by a number of different interests: 

1. Organizations focused on sustainability and balancing corporate economics with the social, health and environmental impacts of consumer products and packaging, like Future 500 and the Product Stewardship Institute;

 

2. Private industry, like Nestle Waters, whose funding helped establish the non-profit initiative Recycling Reinvented that is committed to increasing recycling rates in the U.S. through EPR; 

3. Environmental organizations who view EPR as a way to divert more waste from landfills and waterways as marine debris; and 

4. Local cities and towns that are financially strapped and need money to maintain or expanding their recycling systems.

 

Q: How much of it relates to packaging instead product stewardship? 


A:
I’m only talking about EPR as it relates to packaging and printed paper. In terms of product stewardship, that dialogue is being driven by cities, towns and state governments, who are pushing to get materials like tires, electronics, paint, fluorescent bulbs and mattresses out of the waste stream. EPR for these products is already well-established throughout the U.S. and, for many of them, there’s been good cooperation between industry and government, with some model legislation developed by industry.

 

Q: How do the programs being proposed in the U.S. differ from other countries and why? 


A:
In the U.S., almost all of the EPR programs being proposed include both printed paper and packaging. While that same approach holds true in Canada, in Europe, most programs don’t cover non-packaging printed paper. Other than that difference, the intent of the bills on the table here is the same as the intent of the laws in place globally: to transfer the cost of recycling from cities and towns to private industry which puts the products on the market. What remains to be seen is how costs will be shared. Worldwide, the funding by industry can range from 50 to 100 percent, and this is a big topic of discussion in the U.S.

 

Q: The goal of many/most EPR programs is to boost recycling rates but not all packaging materials are recycled or even have a recycling infrastructure. What then? 


A:
Under global EPR programs, all packaging is subject to fees based on how difficult the materials are to recycle and how valuable the materials are at the end of life. But there aren’t always recycling programs available for all those materials. That’s because, sometimes, there’s not economic justification for recycling them since the collection costs are high and there’s no market for the materials. While the fees for these non-recovered materials are normally higher, as the technology to handle them improves and they can be added to the system, their value could increase relative to processing costs-and fees may be reduced.


Q: With demand for recycled-content materials high, is EPR the best way to ensure a consistent, quality supply at an affordable cost? Why or why not? 


A:
EPR may not dictate whether a community should have a single stream or multi stream, but it does allow for investment in better education and technology—such as optical sorting, better collection facilities and other infrastructure enhancements that increase the volume and value of the recycled-content materials. Right now, cities and towns don’t have the money to fund these investments; that’s where the private sector could help.

 

Q: What’s the chance that the U.S. will see EPR legislation on a national scale? 


A:
I think it’s unlikely. A number of states are looking at model legislation with similar definitions and other components. But just like in Canada, where there are distinct programs in place in the various provinces, the U.S. Congress has no appetite to pass legislation on a national level. What’s happening right now is on a state-by-state basis. If those programs are enacted, then there could be a move to harmonize them throughout the country at some future date, but at this time, I don’t foresee that happening.

 

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