Alesia Winters – Express Tubes – Sustainability Advocate and Business Development Manager
Today there is growing pressure on companies to express their values and illustrate their stand on key social issues. Chief among those issues that resonate with consumers is the environment.
Consumers are increasingly concerned about the impact upon the environment, the products they use, and the brands they want to support.
According to the New York Times, approximately 350 million tons of plastic is produced globally each year with only about 10% of that being recycled. Of the plastic that is simply trashed, an estimated seven million tons ends up in the ocean each year. According to the EPA, it can take up to 450 years for a plastic bottle to fully decompose. The impact of plastic globally is significant:
Glass makes up approximately 7% of America’s municipal solid waste. Each year the U.S. produces about 12.5 million tons of glass and only 3.7 million tons is recycled. Glass is considered to be one of the most recyclable packaging materials but when it ends up at the landfill this material can take up to 1 million years to decompose. Globally, those numbers become even more concerning:
Each year, more than 100 billion aluminum cans are sold just in the United States. However, less than half are recycled. Similarly, to the U.S., aluminum cans from other countries around the world are either incinerated or sent to landfills at the same rate, adding about 2.7 million tons of wasted aluminum cans to the global environment each year. Once in the landfills, aluminum cans take over 250 years to fully decompose.
When making the decision to Choose Green as a packaging option for your product line, you will probably weigh that choice on three levels - Market, Business and the Environment. Each carries a certain measure of uncertainty and cost, but they also carry a potential for value. As with any business decision the more you know --- the better decision you can make.
Consumers are Driving the Movement to Choose Green.
These value-aligned customer experiences are key to igniting growth in today’s marketplace, but creating that alignment requires a brand to intimately understand what drives its audiences on a personal level. It is imperative that brands tap into the right insights when framing their brands’ social stances.
Surprisingly, the majority of US adult shoppers indicate they are willing to pay more for environmentally friendly products. According to the Integer Group, for these shoppers, that single factor increases the perceived value of a product.
Alesia Winters – Express Tubes – Sustainability Advocate and Business Development Manager
Big Brands Take the Lead to Choose Green
As consumer sentiment reflects an increasing willingness to pay more for products that are sustainable, an increasing number of major brands are moving to take the lead in this trend by adding sustainable packaging as part of their corporate social responsibilities and as a pivotal part of their corporate missions.
One good example of this trend is Unilever. They have made a firm commitment that by 2025 they will reduce their use of virgin plastics by 50% and focus on utilizing more PCR [Post-Consumer Recycled] plastics.
At L’Oréal, 60% of their packaging is currently plastic but in 2007 they instituted a policy of packaging optimization designed to reduce the weight and size of their packaging. With this policy, they intend to promote a circular economy through PCR materials and increase the use of renewable materials such as bio-based plastics.
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What they call “commonplace sustainable living” is a core component in Unilever’s corporate vision statement. This component shows the company’s commitment to environmental stewardship through ”sustainable design for home care and personal care products and packaging, Unilever helps consumers reach their goals to integrate sustainability in their lives.“
The corporate vision also states that commonplace sustainability is the best long-term way for their business. “Unilever understands the importance of sustainability and other market trends shaping the industry. Moreover, the vision statement reflects the company’s view of sustainability as a way to maintain business growth.”
Unilever, a British-Dutch multinational consumer goods company, is headquartered in London, England. Its products include food, energy drink, ice cream, tea, cleaning agents, beauty products, and personal care products. Unilever is the largest producer of soap in the world. Unilever is one of the oldest multinational companies with products available in over 190 countries.
According to Jean-Paul Agon, Chairman and CEO of L'Oréal, they are taking a proactive approach to choosing green. He recently noted that “L’Oréal has a strong legacy in sustainability. Balancing our success as a company with the needs of society, as a whole, has always been part of the way we do business.”
“In recent years, we have built on that legacy, integrating the principles of sustainable development into our business model and preparing our company to meet today’s social, environmental and economic challenges.”
To L’Oréal, their aggressive business growth goals can only be achieved by giving consumers green choices that reduce their impact on the Earth.
He went on to note that they “. . . believe consumers are at the heart of our sustainability drive. In order to deliver on our commitment, we need to make it easier for consumers to make sustainable choices.” And that means for both product and packaging choices.
L'Oréal got its start in the hair-color business in 1909, but the company soon branched out into other cleansing and beauty products. L'Oréal currently markets over 500 brands and thousands of individual products in all sectors of the beauty business: hair color, permanents, hair styling, body and skincare, cleansers, makeup, and fragrance.
The Estée Lauder Companies have always used the best ingredients and the latest technology to create superior products. As part of their brand commitment they are taking proactive steps to reduce their carbon footprint.
One of their top five corporate value point commitments is that they will act responsibly and caring for the communities they serve. That “. . . translates into sustainable sourcing practices for both product and packaging, efficient operations, green chemistry and bringing awareness and resources to global causes around health, the environment and education.”
American multinational manufacturer and marketer of prestige skincare, makeup, fragrance, and hair care products. The company began in 1946 when Estée Lauder and her husband Joseph Lauder began producing cosmetics in New York City. They first carried only four products: Cleansing Oil, Skin Lotion, Super Rich All-purpose Creme, and Creme Pack. Two years later, in 1948 they established their first department store account with Saks Fifth Avenue in Manhattan.
Target, the 6th largest US retailer and one of the world’s most trusted brands, has made a deliberate commitment to making smart decisions and taking action across their business to care for the planet.
According to their statement of corporate responsibility, “that means not only reducing our footprint, but going beyond to restore and improve the places where we operate for future generations.” To them, that means a commitment to using resources responsibly and designing our operations, products and services to be sustainable and circular.”
Target Corporation is an American retail corporation. It is the 8th-largest retailer in the United States and is a component of the S&P 500 Index. Target established itself as the discount division of the Dayton-Hudson Corporation in the 1970s, and then expanding with stores nationwide in the 1980s and introduced new store formats under the Target brand in the 1990s. The company has found success as a cheap-chic player in the industry.
Hyatt is a well-known global hospitality company with 20 brands and more than 875 properties in over 60 countries across six continents. And they take their environmental stewardship in the communities they serve seriously.
“In 2014, Hyatt launched its 2020 Vision to tackle the most pressing global environmental issues we can influence. It is based around goals for reducing energy and water consumption and greenhouse gas emissions at our hotels, recycling and waste reduction, supply chain sustainability, and building efficiency – challenges that require collaboration with our industry, other businesses, and thought leaders.”
Hyatt, is an American multinational hospitality company headquartered in the Riverside Plaza area of Chicago that manages and franchises luxury and business hotels, resorts, and vacation properties. As of September 30, 2019, Hyatt has over 100,000 employees worldwide servicing nearly 900 properties across 20 brands in 60 countries.
The Hyatt Corporation originally came into being upon purchase of the Hyatt House, at Los Angeles International Airport, on September 27, 1957. In 1969, Hyatt began expanding internationally. Hyatt has grown by developing new properties and through acquisitions.
MARKET CONSIDERATIONS FOR CHOOSING GREEN
Jennifer Green – Olympic Mountain Products – Business Development Director
As with any product or operational decision made, there are numerous factors that need to be taken into consideration when making your decisions. In that process you have several . . .
"What are the pure business impacts choosing green will have? Are there additional costs?"
"And, are there any limitations in choosing green packaging that I need to consider?"
The same holds when you are planning to adopt some form of sustainable packaging for your product line. A smart business decision always takes the cost-benefit of that decision into consideration. Knowing what the added costs are, what the shelf-life limitations could be and what other constraints may need to be considered are important to the final decision made when choosing green as a packaging option.
Green packaging materials can be more expensive than traditional materials. But for some, that difference may be smaller than you think. Some may even be about the same as the materials you currently use if quantities ordered are greater than minimums.
Generally speaking, green materials do cost more than virgin polyethylene. While the cost of each type of green materials is unique, for some, it does cost more to collect, melt down, process and then remanufacture into new raw materials. The good news is that there are a handful of cost-effective materials to choose from.
Stability and Shelf-Life Considerations
When choosing sustainable packaging materials another consideration that needs to be taken into account is the stability issues of the finished package with your formula. Some materials with active ingredients may have a leaching, migration risk or shortened product shelf life.
With some green materials, it is necessary to add a barrier layer to protect the formula stability and extend shelf life.
With the growing movement to adopt sustainable packaging, there have been quite a few innovations to the barrier properties that are used with sustainable packaging. However, some of the additives can possibly defeat the purpose of the choosing green.
For example, when adding an EVOH barrier to sugar cane tubes you are bringing the percentage of renewable materials slightly down, so a tube with a sleeve derived from 100% sugar cane now has a percentage of 92%. While with PLA and PCR the barrier layer may not need to be added. This does vary based upon product formulations.
If there is ever a question regarding this issue, it is highly recommended to perform full stability testing of the formula, as is the case with any kind of new packaging you are considering.
Limitation of product sizes and types
Are there limitations with sizes and head and cap styles when using green materials?
Yes, in general due to the current technology and composition of sustainable materials there are limitations. You can expect that the subset of styles, sizes and types of products is more limited with green materials than with virgin plastics.
Examples of these limitations are that caps and pumps from green materials have just started to develop and be tested. Most caps and pumps that are produced now will contain a majority of virgin PE. The good news is that as the demand for green materials becomes greater, the variety of products will increase as well.
Limitation of Decoration Options
Are there limitations to decoration options when using green materials now?
There are few limitations and most of the options for decorations you currently enjoy are attainable with green packaging. Tubes that are manufactured with green materials can easily be decorated with offset or silkscreen print. They can be labeled or hot stamped. Bottles and jars manufactured with green materials can be also be printed and labeled and even the ink can be eco-friendly and vegetable based.
Are the lead times similar with green materials?
Most sustainable custom packaging takes 12 weeks to be produced and delivered. This lead time is very similar to traditional materials. Covid 19 has adversely affected production lead times throughout the world. In addition, transportation costs have been increasing as capacity has diminished. As employees return to work, manufacturing levels will begin to normalize and as more products are shipped, transportation costs especially air transport will level off.
The Business Considerations for Choosing Green
The traditional approach to environmental stewardship by brands has focused on reduction rather than prevention. Now, the added goal is to work towards lowering the impact on our environment with waste prevention as a sustained goal.
When you choose green, it will help assist with lowering the harmful environmental impacts and embrace an absolute goal of providing a positive effect on the Earth.
Environmental Considerations for Choosing Green