Packagers flock to learn about sustainability

John Kalkowski

January 30, 2014

2 Min Read
Packagers flock to learn about sustainability


Spring has arrived, and everyone in packaging seems to be thinking “green” these days. It's not so much that it has been a long winter, but the issue of sustainability continues to bud to the point where you could say it is in full bloom. Conferences, webcasts and white papers on the topic are popping up like wildflowers. Many ads tout the eco-friendly aspects of materials used in packaging.

Most people, it seems, now recognize the need to adopt business practices that will contribute to sustainability. If the Sustainability in Packaging 2008 conference held March 11 to 13 is any indication, the 300 packaging professionals who attended now seek information they can apply immediately to improve their operations. They understand that there is a limit to the natural resources available to drive our business, and these resources must be stewarded to protect the environment. However, as many presentations at the conference, hosted by IntertechPira and Packaging Digest indicate, using sustainable practices also is a method of optimizing the supply chain.

Questions remain as to when a company can say it is “sustainable.” While many businesses are promoting actions they've taken to make packaging more eco-friendly, they have not yet achieved true sustainability as defined by the Sustainable Packaging Coalition. However, as a number of speakers noted, the first step toward protecting the environment is often the most difficult, and they are moving toward a goal.

The conference also clarified the importance of Life Cycle Assessments as a valuable tool to measure the impact of a particular package and identify opportunities for improvement. Attendees also were able to learn about how new materials, such as bioplastics, represent opportunities for improvement, yet bioplastics may not be the panacea that many expect.

New study examines automation in packaging

This month, Packaging Digest and Control Engineering release the results of a benchmarking study on automation in packaging. The first of three planned studies in 2008 measures how packaging professionals from consumer product companies, contract packagers and converters are using automation in their operations and share their views on what they need from their suppliers. Later studies will address automation from the perspectives of equipment manufacturers and system integrators. For results and analysis, please visit

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