Behind every great pack are a team of people who are always thinking about the environment
Packaging needs to fulfil a number of roles; protection of the goods it carries, maximization of transport efficiencies, to appeal to consumers in store, fit with retailer shelving and allow provision of consumer information about storage and use.
It must also meet legal requirements for labelling and should display the goods to consumers in excellent condition and with evidence that the goods have not been tampered with.
Consumers often perceive that products are overpackaged and that reducing packaging material is the only way forward to reduce the environmental impact of waste. However damaged and wasted goods can have far more of an environmental impact than the packaging itself, especially when a high proportion of packaging material is recycled.
Therefore we operate on the principle that there should be as much packaging as is necessary, rather than as little as possible, it is all about finding the optimum.
Our packaging is a combination of science, practice and innovation
The right design
Through packaging designs that protect our customers’ products along the supply chain, SCA Packaging contributes directly to sustainable development.
Decisions on packaging designs can have a high environmental impact.The right design allows us to provide our customers with packaging that ensures optimum performance without unnecessary complexity and waste.
The right design creates harmony between the product itself and the primary, secondary and tertiary packaging. ‘Cradle to cradle’ packaging design considers the entire lifecycle of packaging in the context of product and supply chain, minimising material usage and maximising material and energy recovery.
The right design ensures better cubic utilisation. If goods can be shipped more densely, less transport is required, less fuel is consumed and fewer emissions are generated. The right design requires the right process. The first step is a thorough analysis of the supply chain and research of materials to be used.
Next, 3D designs are created which can be assessed in a virtual environment. Prototypes are then produced and tested before the best solution is selected.
The right design requires the right tools and SCA uses a number of proprietary design tools during the design process. Tools for example which simulate strength allowing for material minimisation, or optimal palletisation, and which ensure that our packaging helps achieve the sustainability goals of our customers.
Corrugated packaging, apart from a few specialist applications, is intended for single trips with the material being recycled at the end of its life.
It is important to challenge a commonly promoted view that reuse will always result in a lower environmental impact than recycling. Whilst it is true that reuse can on many occasions be a useful option, it is mostly a questionable strategy for packaging.
The role of reuse in the hierarchy of options needs to be carefully considered with regard to environmental impact and should be based on lifecycle thinking.
With regard to the specific comparison of returnable plastic crates (RPC’s) with single trip corrugated packaging, it can be the case that for controlled, closed loop cycles with short transport distances RPC’s may have a lower environmental impact.
However for longer transport distances and particularly for “open loop” scenarios, with more complicated logistics, the use of corrugated packaging will normally result in a lower environmental impact.