Quantifying Green Packaging
- Filed in:
- Metrics, standards, and LCA
Suppose you’re working on a sustainability project for your company and you have some great ideas- right-sizing your master carton to save 5% in corrugate; using 10% post-consumer recycled content in corrugate inserts; or making the switch to unbleached from bleached corrugate. But to get time and resources for the project, you must show the deliverables, the end results, the quantifiable goal, and it must be in terms meaningful to upper management. How can you do this, without conducting hours of research and complex stoichiometric calculations? No worries, there are resources on the web to help.
When it comes to paper-based products, the clear winner is the paper calculator from http://www.papercalculator.org. Developed by the Environmental Defense Fund, it will show the effects of paper changes and specifically give the CO2-equivalent savings. For example, it can help you quantify the environmental savings of changing from 0% to 20% post-consumer recycled content. It gives results in tons of wood saved, total BTU's of energy saved, greenhouse gases saved, wastewater saved, and solid waste saved. It is easy to reference and respected in the community.
Additionally, once you calculate the CO2 equivalent, you can translate it into other useful metrics on the EPA website, http://www.epa.gov/cleanenergy/energy-resources/calculator.html. For example, 100 tons of CO2 savings is equivalent to the CO2 emitted from powering 12 homes for one year, or the annual emissions from 16.6 passenger cars. These analogies can help translate your message of savings to non-technical readers, and can infuse a little reality into the effects of the packaging change.
Want to learn more? Consider joining the Green Packaging Forum on LinkedIn.com. Over 1,000 members from across the world come together to discuss Sustainable Packaging issues.