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  • 22 Nov 2019

Vicki Strull: Your sustainability strategy matters

Vicki Strull

The typical supermarket has more than a dozen aisles, hundreds of shelves, and thousands of products in their own uniquely branded packaging. Much of that packaging is plastic -- from soda bottles to zippered flexible pouches to yogurt containers and candy wrappers. Plastic is pervasive, and it’s taking a toll on our planet.

Consumers are becoming more vocal in their demands for brands to protect the environment. They’re willing to pay more for it and ready to switch brands if they don’t get it. In the labels and packaging industry, caring for our planet is not only an environmental and ethical responsibility, it has economic implications as well.

In Part 1 of this two-part series, I shared my top three strategies restructuring, upcycling and creating a circular economy for brands committed to supporting sustainability in terms of packaging. Here are three additional strategies that many of the brands I work with are adopting:

1. Become a lightweight. Lightweighting is purposefully choosing lighter-weight paperboard that has the same caliper as your packaging requires, in order to reduce your packageor product weight. Much like restructuring, selecting lighter weight materials can have far-reaching benefits, such as reducing transportation and fuel costs.

2. Consider the alternatives. This includes using biodegradable, multi-purpose, and recycled and/or recyclable materials.We’re all familiar with the plastic straw vs paper straw conversation. There are plenty of other plastic products that are having a similar impact. Case in point: the millions of plastic cards that are produced each year as gift cards, frequent-buyer cards and credit cards. We’re beginning to see these replaced by paperboard and fiberboard, as well as new uses including beer bottles and the first shower-safe fiberboard bottles.

3. Be holistic. A holistic approach to sustainability is a way of doing business that is embedded into the core values of your brand. It’s part of your mission, manufacturing processes, procurement, supply chain, growth strategy, your internal communications and more. A holistic approach can create stronger, more authentic connections with your employees, suppliers, influencers, and your customers. 

The broad definition of sustainability requires us to live life on this planet without compromising future generations. Accordingto a 2018 Neilson survey, 81 percent of global respondents feel strongly that companies should help improve the environment. The companies I work with feel strongly about their responsibility, too. I believe that together, brands, manufacturers and print and packaging providers will continue to find innovative methods and materials to sustain their commitment to the planet, and in turn, to their customers. 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Vicki Stull is the branding and design voice for Labels & Labeling. She has 25 years' experience in print, packaging and design. Her work can be found at http://www.vickistrull.com/.

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