Paper or Plastic
Perhaps I'm a generation ahead of the whole sustainable packaging global conversion discussion. There have been a few articles about small companies and their endeavors towards sustainable solutions. But many of the articles about sustainable packaging I read are about high production goals. Many of the experts represented through this discussion group are high production companies (100,000 or 1,000,000 units a day kind of organizations). Yet the company I work for, and many other companies, are small or mid-size organizations. Medium size companies are also struggling with the whole sustainable packaging issue. They are eagerly watching the larger companies to see what they resolve. But, how do we implement these strategies on a much smaller scale?
My company produces woodworking and gardening tools. About 400 main products plus additional accessories and replacement parts. Packaging involves many sizes and configurations. Blister and blister cards, chipboard boxes and envelopes, corrugated boxes, plastic cases, and PET or PP bags. Often using off-the-shelf products. With the exception of a few, many of our products are 200 to 500 or 1000 units per year. We would like to consolidate and refine our packaging options without over-sizing the packages by using something from another product. We are often at the mercy of the suppliers. Requesting a simple substitution as a kraft chipboard box vs a stock white chipboard box can increase the cost because it is not a stock material. Cost, of course, is always the final hurdle.
My second question essentially comes down to 'paper or plastic'? A shipment of 5000 blisters and blister cards may take a few years to consume. The adhesive has a shelf life of 6 months to 3 years (under ideal conditions). Cards get damaged through transport and handling. Thus we would like to find an alternate. Yet, hung merchandise has a greater visibility and appeal with retailers. Clamshells require mould costs, which are not always practical for small runs and require larger amounts of raw material than just a blister. Then there are all the sustainable, environmental, health and safety, carbon footprint issues. PET may be easy to recycle but has health risks for the producer. Vinyl may be just the opposite and less expensive. So, in the grand scheme of things, which is better, a 20% recycled corrugated box, chipboard box that's mostly glue, or a clamshell or blister card approach? There is a perception that paper products are more environmental because they are not made from petroleum products. But is this true? — I look forward to viewing the research data to be offered from the Greener Package web site. — Can anyone provide pros and cons, benefits and costs of one over the other? Also, any suggestions on how to sell more expensive sustainable solutions to management?
Reduce, reuse, recycle but security, protection, production.
Thank you for your time.