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Digital technologies enhance sustainable packaging communications

Digital technologies enhance sustainable packaging communications
The Sustainable Packaging Coalition's How2Recycle Facebook page shares info with consumers and packaging professionals.

Digital technologies play an important role in our day-to-day lives, impacting both business to consumer (B2C) and business to business (B2B) interactions. As consumers, technology informs most of our purchasing decisions; we use social media, shop online and have instant access to product information. As professionals, we increasingly rely on digital communications, social media and web-based business solutions. How does this impact the sustainable packaging community?

Web and social media use is now common among all age groups. While youth are the heaviest users of the internet and social media, uptake by older Americans continues to grow. According to research conducted by the Pew Research Internet Project, 87% of all adults use the internet. When broken down by age group, 57% of those over 65 are internet users. Additional Pew research shows that social media use by online seniors has tripled since 2009. Digital technology is not just for the young.

Advertising and developing brand trust is no longer isolated to traditional forms of media. The challenge, and opportunity, for B2C communications is interacting on diverse platforms. On-package graphics reference websites, social media or online promotions, while smart phones and mobile apps allow consumers to research a product, service or store before making a purchasing decision. Social media and online marketing campaigns can grab consumers’ attention to promote recyclability, sustainability initiatives and partnerships.

There are countless examples and opinions about harnessing the power of the internet and social media to further an organization’s goals, far too many to address here. A couple recent examples in the packaging space include How2Recycle and the “I Want to be Recycled” campaign. How2Recycle is an on-package recycling label that gives clear recycling instructions to consumers. Each label carries the website, giving consumers a source for more recycling information. I Want to Be Recycled is an advertising collaboration between Keep America Beautiful and the Ad Council, which incorporates an interactive website at

Ok, we get it, the internet is grand. But how does this impact our professional lives?

Over the past few years, GreenBlue’s Sustainable Packaging Coalition has increased our social media presence, giving the SPC, and individual staff, more outlets to discuss exciting topics and build relationships.

These trends also impact the way GreenBlue operates, from new project management tools to the way we deliver projects. We use new web-based project management tools, moved our operations to the cloud and implemented Google Apps for Business. Members may notice a new focus on websites, web based sharing and results-based tools. We believe the shift increases our value as a solution provider and collaborative space.

At the end of September 2014, How2Recycle released its new web-based artwork library. The tool is available to all How2Recycle members and is hosted through Brandfolder. It provides quick access to graphics, new guidance documents and other program information, dramatically expediting the entire How2Recycle artwork process for both How2Recycle members and GreenBlue staff.

While each member company is different, the Brandfolder resource is designed to more seamlessly integrate How2Recycle into each company’s graphics design process. Our members anticipate an exponential increase in the number of packages carrying How2Recycle and a decrease in staff time needed to implement the program. This milestone is possible through the hard work of SPC staff and How2Recycle members.  

Technology ultimately gives us the opportunity to try new things, experiment and be agile organizations. GreenBlue is far from finished in our journey to adopt a more integrated digital strategy, but we’re excited to continue moving forward, providing more web based solutions and platforms for collaboration.

In the meantime, let me know what you think. You can find me on Twitter at @PeacockDanielle.

Author Danielle Peacock is project associate at GreenBlue's Sustainable Packaging Coalition. For more information about the SPC, visit

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