Walmart released recently its new Sustainable Packaging Playboook, to serve as a guide for suppliers to improve packaging sustainability. This document focuses on three main priorities : Optimize design, source sustainably and support recycling.
The first mission of packaging is to protect the product. Reviewing the products damage history can give some good hints about what could be improved on the packaging design. A review of the packaging design should also be the appropriate moment to challenge the amount of material used. A sustainable packaging strategy could even lead to product changes (such as concentration or dimension changes) if such changes result in a lesser quantity of packaging material consumed. Packaging suppliers are generally a good partner to achieve such improvements. The experience of their structural designers teams could be precious.
Folding carton packaging allow product manufacturer to choose within a wide selection of substrates, and among them numerous options with post consumer recycled fibers. When virgin fibers material is required, it is always possible to source FSC certified board. Films, inks and varnishes can also be chosen according to their environmental impact.
"About 30% of PET packaging in the U.S. is not recycled, in part due to issues with labels and adhesives"
Using recyclable material is not enough, packaging recyclability should be analyzed globally to make sure that the different components of the packaging can be separated easily to allow an efficient recycling, that the communities where the goods are sold can effectively recycle the material used and that the consumers are well informed about the recyclability of the packaging they buy. Cardboard packaging offers among the best recyclability avenues. Paper products used by the packaging industry were responsible for about 77% of packaging materials recycled.