Mushrooms, Loose Fill and Microlayering : Packaging Sustainability
Packaging exists to do a job. It’s not there for its own sake. Packaging is a utility, necessary to protect the most commonly used consumer products and goods as they are transported across the globe. Packaging isn’t expendable but it can be revolutionary. Over the years, packaging has developed from a few tonnes of plastics into today’s range of sophisticated materials and systems that enable modern distribution of fresh food and goods to outlets around the world.
At Sealed Air, revolutionary means sustainable. Working with the company’s researchers, developers and marketers, new products are assessed against three value indicators—performance, cost-effectivness, and sustainability
“It is these criteria that represent the corners of our company trillion logo and the measurable value we bring to customers. We look for ways to improve each project’s sustainability profile as it moves through the development process,” Ron Cotterman, Sealed Air Vice President of Sustainability, told CSPA.
“We need packaging,” Cotterman said. “We need it to function. But we always ask, can we lessen its environmental impact. And if so, can we do it without sacrificing performance and without dramatically impacting price?
Any new idea has to meet each test or research stops, Cotterman said. Sustainability is a key part of the process for product innovation, he said.
Three recent product innovations that meet the trilogy of indicators are RestoreÔ MushroomÒ Packaging, PakNaturalÒ Loose Fill and the CryovacÒ CT shrink film.
RestoreÔ MushroomÒ Packaging is the first completely natural protective packaging product manufactured from non-food based agricultural byproducts. Sealed Air customers use this packaging to protect consumer items from vases to electronics during transport. And those consumers, the end-user, can compost the packaging at home.
Another plant-based packaging innovation is Sealed Air’s PakNaturalÒ Loose Fill, a biodegradable and compostable alternative to packaging peanuts. PakNaturalÒ has no static cling and the fill, like the mushroom packaging, can be composted.
The CryovacÒ CT shrink film uses microlayering process technology to produce an ultrathin shrink film that matches the performance of conventional films, but with 50% thinner gauge. This reduces the amount of material in the packaging, and creates downstream cost savings in labor productivity, improved transport efficiencies and saves energy.
At Sealed Air, as an idea moves through development, its entire possible life-cycle is evaluated. When the product is ready for commercial launch, the data generated by its life-cycle assessment is used to market the sustainability of the product. Using the data in this way helps to increase the company’s reputation for fact-based product claims.
In addition to backing up the company’s marketing claims, the data from life-cycle assessment give sales representatives a good starting point. At Sealed Air, sales representatives are educators. They use the data and customized calculations to educate potential and current customers on the possible savings a new sustainable product could deliver.
Thanks to the life-cycle assessment data, sales educators can lead with the environmental marketing points and have the data to back up their pitch. Education of this kind helps build brand equity, which circles back to boosting the company’s bottom line, and increasing the company’s return on investment in sustainability, Cotterman said.
For more information on Sealed Air’s sustainability program and innovations visit http://sealedairsustainability.pivotdeveloper.com/