Case Study: Industry Heavyweights Collaborate to tackle Brand’s Sustainable Packaging Goals
This case story explores a framework of how a major brand owner determined the next steps in their sustainability journey by engaging PTIS’ technical expertise and unbiased material approach while also leveraging the COMPASS LCA tool for environmental assessment.
*Due to the nature of this engagement and the utilization of proprietary information, the brand name was omitted from this case story.
Problem: A client company was looking to better understand their packaging footprint and how sustainable packaging initiatives could advance their overall sustainability strategy.
The company had varying internal opinions about what constituted a “sustainable package”, but very little based on metric or facts. Without clear guidance, this made it hard for the company’s package designers and engineers to incorporate environmental feedback into their designs, and to report sustainability progress.
1.) Sustainability Priority & Metric Development- PTIS interviewed a wide range of internal stakeholders to understand the current view of sustainability, goals of the client, and any internal gaps. From there, key environmental metrics were identified and a sustainability strategy was recommended that focused on reducing the company’s impact.
The company chose to focus its sustainable packaging initiatives on reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Fossil Fuel Consumption.
2.) Life Cycle Analysis using COMPASS- These indicators were measured using the COMPASS LCA tool (developed by the Sustainable Packaging Coalition). This tool has the ability to provide instant environmental feedback in the early design stages allowing companies’ packaging development teams to make data-driven design decisions that align with sustainability strategies.
- Data was gathered from the company’s packaging suppliers and the current package (an HDPE canister, with PP lid, induction seal, and paper label) was modeled in the COMPASS tool
The client’s HDPE canister was modeled in the COMPASS tool to create a baseline. This shows an entire packaging system including a case carrying 6 rigid canisters and a steel pallet carrying 50 cases.
- A single analysis was completed to create a baseline so that packaging teams could better understand the package’s current footprint.
- Hotspots of large material and manufacturing impacts were identified by the COMPASS tool and targeted for improvement.
Hotspot identification: Fossil Fuel Consumption from COMPASS analysis is shown for an HDPE canister modeled above.
3.) Identifying Alternate Materials & Packaging Formats- Alternate packaging materials, formats, and technologies were evaluated for sustainability with the COMPASS tool. Results of the analysis were compared to the baseline and assessed with other packaging performance criteria.
- Alternate Materials considered included Polypropylene (PP), use of Post Consumer Recycled (PCR) content at different load levels, as well as newer biobased materials, included PLA and BioBased HDPE
- Alternate Formats considered included different canister sizes as well as flexible pouches, including brick packs, stand up resealable pouches, and flat bottom corner seal bags
- Alternate Technology Considered included new closure systems with an integrated scoop and induction seal
COMPASS analysis showing Greenhouse Gas Emissions for PLA Canister vs Flexible Pouch format
1.) Long-Term Road Map
PTIS created a roadmap for the product line allowing the client to make incremental design changes over time that would have a cumulative and measurable affect on the company’s sustainability goals.
- Step 1 – (Short term)
- Optimize current package through use of food contact PCR content.
- An additional opportunity to lightweight the closure system was identified
- Consumer education, including use of the How2Recycle labeling scheme
- Step 2 – (Mid term)
- Increase PCR levels or use biobased HDPE.
- Start consumer testing of flexible package options, including use of pouch as a refill system
- Step 3 – (Long term)
- Regional launch of new flexible stand up resealable pouch format
A sustainability “story” explaining the benefits of each step was also developed to help with internal, as well as external communication.