TEST Setting up your sustainable packaging initiatives for success.
Published Jul 28, 2022

If you're involved in packaging, it's nearly a guarantee that more sustainability projects are coming across your desk.  If you're a packaging executive, the growing tide of environmentally focused consumers is pushing harder than ever to move away from plastics to sustainable packaging; therefore, future revenue will be connected to your alignment to design with product life-cycle in mind. 

It sounds like such a simple project - find a package that can be recyclable.  But, choosing the right metrics, defining what sustainable means in the context of your goals, and creating the right eco-system of partners is critical to success.  Add in the fact that historically packaging specification data is disorganized or non-existent - and well, getting to sustainable packaging by 2025 seems nearly impossible. 

As many companies start to execute their sustainability initiatives, it's more critical than ever to define a sustainable packaging roadmap.  (page 10) This includes the nitty gritty of what your goals are and how you're going to achieve them.  Packaging is more complex than lay people realize - and the need to save our planet becomes more urgent by the day.

So, how exactly does a company kickstart a sustainability initiative successfully? 

  • Define what sustainable means to your organization:

  • Do all stakeholders have a similar understanding of what sustainability might look like? Selecting a few short knowledge points by experts will help to begin with a shared language before applying it to your specific company.

  • Then ask for consensus on priorities - Is your company focusing on supports around recycling?  Composting?  Packaging made with recycled content?  Your sustainability roadmap will look different depending on the definitions you use and company priorities (many narrow from the list of UN Sustainable Development Goals). 

  • Most importantly after steps a & b are to define what metrics will be tracked to determine success for those goals. How will the metric data be gathered? How and to whom will the metric data be reported?  (e.g. A common goal is ‘eliminate plastic packaging’.  But further definition is needed to clarify how, by when and who will be observing progress towards that goal. Therefore, ‘Reduction of company’s carbon footprint, through our XYZ steps, by Date, shown through a lowering of (metric - emissions)’ is a better metric and starting point.

2. Baseline your current specifications 

  • You can’t go sustainable without a clear grasp on your starting point.  Packaging is purpose-built - to protect product, extend shelf-life and look good on the store shelf. But what is it made of now? Get to know your current specs on a few products

  • Once specifications are centralized, get a baseline on materials you are using, the metrics of your current packaging portfolio and determine the key actions that will have the biggest impact on your goals. 

  • With a single source of truth for specifications, you can easily identify the low-hanging fruit and build out your eco-system of manufacturers and service providers to execute on your sustainability strategy.

3. Implement purpose-built project management tools

  • With thousands of specs that potentially need to be changed, managing this on Excel or email is impossible.  The right tool needs to: 

  • Bring your entire value-chain onto a collaborative platform

  • Provide a single source of truth - having all specifications available to your stakeholders, and automating approval workflows ensures your entire supply chain is on the same page.

  • Automate workflows to get more done, faster

  • Automatically track progress and alert the right people at the right time before roadblocks put milestones at risk.

The right people, process and tools are key to ahieving bold sustainability initiatives and helping preserve the environment for future generations.  

SourceHUB is purpose-built to help companies to build their eco-system of sustainability team members.  By centralizing data and connecting your entire supply chain (including consultants), your team can start making an impact faster than ever imagined.