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Green Your Packaging Now — Before They Make You Do It

Eco-Friendly Dishwasher DetergentsWhen we think about greening “print,” we often think about books or marketing communications like direct mail. But what about the world of packaging? Because packaging provides the additional functions of shipment and product protection as well as marketing, it brings a host of unique issues far beyond other types of printed materials.

Plus, it’s on the verge of being regulated.

Multichannel Merchant recently noted that regulations such as PAS 2050 (developed in the U.K.) limit, among other things, the impact of packaging on carbon emissions throughout the product lifecycle. The World Resources Institute is now reviewing how to leverage PAS 2050 for the U.S.

This matters so much because “green” packaging is more than about using recycled or earth-friendly materials in the packaging itself. It’s about the entire packaging lifecycle, including distribution and disposal.

For example, have you thought about what happens when packaging doesn’t properly protect the product? Those defective products, often along with their packaging, must be returned to the merchant and replacement goods sent, burning up additional fossil fuels and raw materials on both sides of the return. So while it’s non-intuitive, even packaging strength should be part of any green packaging initiative.

Three Ways to Green Packaging

There are three primary ways to “green” your packaging:

  1. minimizing the damage risks;
  2. incorporating appropriate sustainable packaging materials; and
  3. maximizing the product-to-package ratio (reducing weight and therefore fossil fuels used in shipping).

This can require real forethought and testing. Sure it costs money, but as the world moves toward greater sustainability, regulations on the lifecycle of product packaging is inevitable. So get in and look at the options and do the testing before someone on the outside makes you do it . . . and puts a deadline on it.

Like this post? See all my “Greening Print Marketing” posts.

Written by Heidi Tolliver-Walker

Heidi Tolliver-Walker has been a commercial and digital printing industry analyst, feature writer, columnist, editor, and author for nearly 20 years. She is known for her meticulous research and no-nonsense perspective. In addition to having written thousands of industry articles for top industry publications, she and Richard Romano have been the face of the well-respected industry research firm The Industry Measure (TrendWatch Graphic Arts) for many years. In her more than 13-year tenure with the firm, she has written countless reports on digital printing, 1:1 (personalized) printing, Web-to-print, personalized URLs, and other hot industry applications. She is also a long-time contributing editor and columnist for Printing News, for which she writes two monthly columns, including "Personal Effects," which features monthly analysis of 1:1 (personalized) printing case studies. She is also the author of three titles for the National Association of Printing Leadership: Designer's Printing Companion, Ink & Color: A Printer's Guide, and Diversifying Via Value-Added Services. As a small, niche publisher (Strong Tower Publishing), she is active in utilizing these technologies in her own business, as well.

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