Sustainable Perspective

17 Dec 2013 Sustainable Packaging Outlook for 2014

2014At a recent green conference where I served on a panel of green packaging “experts” the inevitable question was asked – is green dead? More specifically, the person asking was questioning the importance of green packaging for business.

I responded the way I always do, green is not dead, it has however, evolved and matured. Not matured the way a market matures and becomes saturated or consumed to capacity. I wish that was the case, but matured the way we grow up beyond idealistic, often youthful perspectives and impatient expectations, to appreciate a broader and longer term objective. Perhaps looking at sustainability with more brain and logic, rather than heart and emotion? Maybe with less “cause” and more “because” it simply makes sense.

Green Packaging Street “Cred”

We have been selling green products to green minded customers for almost seven years. Our efforts have helped us enjoy relationships with some of the oldest and largest green companies, as well as with some of the newest and smallest. We have been the subject of countless articles, included in several books and even been recognized by our US Congress for our work. Last week we were even gratefully featured in an article in  (fill in search box with SALAZAR for a peek at the article). I share these facts not to brag, but to confirm that we have been doing this for a while and enjoyed some measure of success in spite of the ups and downs of an ever changing green market.

Advice From the Trenches

What we share with anyone who asks is that today if the best or only feature of your product and service is the fact that it is green, you will probably have a difficult time making the transition away from a green market that in the past has sometimes been mistakenly focused on guilt, shame or solely green motives, “Save the earth one BLANK at a time!”

The driving forces today are about time tested features including quality, service, and yes, price. The internet we all love has managed to make everything a commodity, so offering 100% organic baby clothes or 100% soy candles is not enough. Let’s face it, is there anything that is a greater commodity than a simple corrugated shipping box which is one of our core products? Creating that “image of difference” between us the multitudes on the internet doing something similar to what we do is the challenge. Delivering on that promise is imperative in order to secure that most important repeat customer.

What to Expect in 2014

Green versus Cost – The economy is neither as good as some try to convince us or as bad as others would like us to believe. However, until this age of uncertainty passes, if ever, the green benefits of every product will continue to be compared to the product’s cost benefits by careful consumers. It has to save money for the buyer even if it is a long payback. Do not expect anyone to pay a premium for green unless they see a bottom line benefit that goes well beyond the good feeling of doing good.

Green is a “Brand” too! – Branding has gone far beyond an easily recognized logo or graphics. It communicates “who we are” and “who” most of our customers are, is green.

Recycled Content Products – Utilizing products that can be EASILY recycled will continue being in demand and along with that, products that have a high recycled content. Companies will continue to be more responsible creating a market for the recycled content they are encouraging others to generate.

Reusable Packaging – Many companies who wanted to utilize reusable containers, simply could not afford the sizable, initial investment that is often necessary. Now with a slightly better economic outlook, I believe some of those interested companies will commit and save a lot of money in the long run.

“Back to Basics” – There will always be interest (and there should be) in innovative new products and materials. Recent history has taught us that many of those innovations are not affordable, not easily manufactured in large scale, or simply not practical. I expect 2014 to be a year when most will focus on REDUCTION as they continue to develop and experiment with thinner materials and designs that dramatically reduce the amount of packaging being used.

Perhaps there are no new and exciting revelations in the above information but I think time will prove this to be a good course for all of us to follow. It is indeed an exciting time to be selling green products to a green market because logic has overcome emotion and people are making, positive, long term changes in the way they operate their homes and businesses. That can’t be bad, can it?

We hope you have a wonderful and profitable 2014!

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30 Aug 2013 Escape Monthly – New Subscription Box program with a great twist and unique packaging!

Inside reverse print on white die cut mailerWe have been very fortunate to work with a number of great subscription box programs and the most recent one, is unique in that they offer destination inspired themes, full size product samples and each month, every subscriber is eligible to win a trip valued up to $2,000! This is not your average subscription commerce box and I invite you to visit their web site and learn more about their very neat program.

 Subscription Boxes Printed Inside and Out

The people at Escape Monthly wanted to minimize the amount of packaging and the cost, while maximizing the visual impact, so they selected a design that we could print inside AND outside the box. In addition, their box is reverse printed with only one color on a white background, minimizing print plate costs and making the print job much easier and affordable than it appears to be.

One color reverse printed on white die cut mailerYou can see by the photos, the end result is a box design that looks great and is sure to be remembered by their subscribers.

Subscription Boxes R Us?

Not quite but we do a lot of them. We strive to give each one a unique look and feel, utilizing a variety of packaging materials and different shipping box designs. For box within a box programs, we offer custom folding cartons in different board types, grades and designs. We can also help you design rigid boxes that require no tooling and enable you to use an endless variety of colors, papers, and textures.

If you are in need of a shipping box that makes a statement and is remembered, call us at 630-551-1700 or contact Salazar Packaging for a free, no cost and confidential review of your needs.

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06 Aug 2013 Yuzen’s Subscription Program’s New Packaging is a Sustainable and Branding Hit!

Yuzen's 3 new rigid bioxesHere is a one question, multiple choice quiz for you, regarding custom printed secondary packaging:

Great, branded secondary packaging __________

A.  Makes a positive and memorable impression
B.  Reflects the quality of the product it contains or the program it represents
C.  Encourages reuse and discourages disposal
D.  Utilizes as much recycled content as possible and is easily recycled
E.  All of the above

The obvious answer is E, all of the above, but many would question how can anyone expect any packaging to satisfy all of those distinct and various needs? Ask the nice and creative people at Yuzen who have more than accomplished each point above.

Rigid Boxes Provide Flexibility for Yuzen

Congratulations to the team at who took our suggestion of using rigid boxes and ran with it, creating several different looks by using different paper wraps on the same rigid box. I think most would agree each look is different but unmistakably Yuzen. It can be difficult to use a variety of colors and designs to represent one single brand but the subtle colors and images selected by the Yuzen team accomplish it without sacrificing their identity.

BTW, even though the goal at this time is to maintain the same rigid box size, rigid boxes can be changed dimensionally without expensive tooling or cutting dies. That is huge in a subscription marketing program where sample sizes vary from month to month and a larger (or smaller) rigid box can be advantageous.

New Yuzen rigid box in new custom printed mailerWhat Makes this Packaging Green?

If we agree the three R’s (reduce, reuse and recycle) are the best guidelines when it comes to determining what type of packaging is best for the environment, then the new Yuzen Packaging is three for three.

The rigid box and the pizza box style mailer Yuzen selected are both designed to use the least amount of materials possible. (reduce) The rigid packaging is designed to be attractive making it very likely to be repurposed. (reuse) The mailer box is manufactured with our 100% recycled corrugated board and the rigid box is typically 80 to 90% recycled content. (recycle) If either component is disposed of, that can easily be accomplished in any process that accepts recycled paper waste where it will be repulped and used to make new packaging materials.

Effective Branded Packaging – Unforgettable Good Looks

Aren’t two of the main reasons to promote your brand to impress and be remembered? I think most would agree on that basis, this new Yuzen Packaging is wildly successful.

Our customers appreciate what we help them achieve and we take a great deal of pride knowing that we helped to create some of the best looking packaging you see in the subscription market, or several other markets where looks matter.

We are one of the few companies capable of designing and manufacturing rigid boxes, paperboard cartons and corrugated shipping containers of all types. Add our paper tube packaging and our numerous mailer envelope options and there is probably few applications we cannot help you handle. When in doubt, please contact us to discuss your specific application.

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29 Apr 2013 Salazar Packaging and Globe Guard Products co-sponsor Chicago LOHAS Event

LOHAS is a terrific organization and an acronym for Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability, a market segment focused on health and fitness, the environment, personal development, sustainable living, and social justice.

LOHAS 2013

Last year, I was fortunate to serve on a panel discussion on packaging at the LOHAS annual conference in Denver, Colorado where they are based. There I was able to meet and get to know the executive director, Ted Ning, and we are thrilled to see him bring the LOHAS message to our hometown of Chicago.

Network with Other Green Minded People and Companies

The gathering with cocktails will be held on Wednesday, May 8, 2013 from 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM (CDT) at the Metropolitan Group that is at 35 E Wacker Place, in Chicago. You can see more information at this link and even reserve your ticket there.

To learn more about LOHAS, please visit their web site at I think you will find your time well spent at this rare Midwest opportunity to meet people who share your same interests and passions.

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26 Feb 2013 Reducing Shipping Costs by Reducing Shipping Weight

Shipping rate increasesRecently we have had an influx of questions and projects all related to packaging weight. Some customers have experienced substantial increases in shipping cost thanks to a variety of recent price increases and policy changes by the three major shippers, USPS, UPS and FedEx.

There are no “one size fits all” answers because what you ship, how you ship and where you ship can all impact your shipping costs, but here are a few points to consider:

Have you “right sized” your packaging lately?

We recently spoke to a customer who was looking for a less expensive void fill to pack the boxes they were shipping out. A quick review of the situation resulted in our recommendation of using a “non-stock” box which was considerably smaller, less expensive and lighter to ship that the “standard” stock box they were accustomed to using.

Are you using the best shipping container for your application?

There is rarely a week that goes by that we do not hear from someone shipping soft goods (tee shirts, baby clothes, etc.) in corrugated boxes. As much as we enjoy selling boxes, unless the product is fragile, a paper or plastic mailer envelope may satisfy the need at a substantially lower shipping weight. Keep in mind when you eliminate the shipping box, you also eliminate the tape, void fill material and even labels (if you have the mailer custom printed) which all add cost and weight.

If your product does require a corrugated container, remember there are a wide variety of design alternatives to a standard RSC style shipping box. These include end and side load full overlap boxes for low profile products or in some situations a die cut mailer can be a lighter, cost effective solution.

Are you using the correct board weight?

We just helped a customer reduce his shipping weight and cost by reducing the thickness of his board from standard C-flute to slightly thinner B-flute. Incidentally, they also enjoyed a storage and inbound shipping cost savings because they can ship and store 30% more boxes in the same amount of space.

In a lower volume application, a customer using die cut corrugated mailer boxes is reducing shipping costs by switching from “standard” B-flute to light weight, more economical E-flute board. Board weight cannot always be reduced due to application or volume requirements but when it can be, it is a great way to minimize packaging costs and shipping weight. holding brown paper package

Are those “free” boxes costing you a bundle?

Most of our customers are eco minded so re-using is a way of life. This is great except when they end up using packaging that is over sized or just plain wrong for their needs. One of our favorite green customers always prided themselves in utilizing “used” boxes whenever possible. Many of the boxes they reused were considerably larger than really necessary so they compensated for the excessive space by stuffing the boxes full of used newspaper. Unfortunately the box and newspaper were adding considerable cost and weight to the product they were shipping out, offsetting any savings they thought they were experiencing.

Another “free” box that may not be such a great deal are some of those USPS flat rate boxes. Those flat rate programs tend to be a great deal as your product weight rises but a worse deal as the product weight decreases. See the related post listed below for a breakdown and example of how buying a box can prove far less expensive than the free box they offer.

Again, there is no pat answer and every situation can differ. The most important thing to remember is that in MOST cases, there is a cost and weight reduction possible, when you review your needs with the help of an experienced packaging supplier with multiple solutions to offer. Please contact us for a free application review.

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29 Jan 2013 Custom Printed and Branded Packaging FAQ and Tips

Much of the work we do is custom printing and branded RSC shipping boxes, die cut mailer boxes, mailer envelopes, cushioning materials and even plastic and paper box sealing tape. So as a result, we have a number of conversations with potential customers who are interested in custom printing the packaging they use. Here are a few of the most frequently asked questions:

Can I save some money if I only print one color?
Yes, but not much. In fact people are surprised that the second color on a print job is really quite inexpensive. My advice is usually if a second color will make your packaging stand out or make your packaging look more consistent with your other branding, by all means, don’t a let a few cents per box or envelope prevent you from utilizing a second color.

Does that also hold true for the third or fourth color?
To some degree yes but it depends on the product you are printing. For example on printed corrugated boxes, there is usually a substantial jump in price between the second and the third color. Why? Because most box makers have two color equipment. Four-color equipment is more expensive and more difficult to set up, so far fewer box makers have that capability. In addition, less competition usually leads to higher prices.

What other costs are involved when doing a multi-color print job?
Again, depending on the product, there could be “per color” art and plate charges which can become quite expensive. Make sure you ask about those up front to help you pick a direction and look.

Can the cost be reduced if I limit the amount of art on my design?
Perhaps a little bit but not much. There may be a slight savings in the cost of the printing plate, or on the product itself but here is my usual response to this question – ink is cheap but set time is not. Whether we use a tablespoon or a cup of ink, the difference in cost is minimal.

Then how can I reduce the cost of branded and custom printed packaging?
The answer is very simple – Increase the order size. As stated above, the real culprit is set up time whether you are printing envelopes, boxes, or tape. Once that set up cost is amortized on an order, the price usually drops significantly. In fact we always quote several price/quantity brackets because we want our customers to realize the savings that can be had by increasing their order size.

What is the cost difference for printing with vegetable based inks?
Even though vegetable (soy, potato, etc.) inks are still used on some packaging products, on many others including corrugated, the more cost effective and environmentally friendly method of printing is by utilizing water-based inks.
The water waste and discharge is completely filtered and monitored by most municipal governments resulting in a very green and efficient print. The end result is better coverage, easier clean up and lower costs for the consumer as well as the manufacturer using an ink that is as eco friendly as the once trendy vegetable inks.
Every product and situation is different but we have the experience to help you select the best option for you. Please contact Salazar Packaging for a no cost, no obligation review of your custom printing and branded packaging needs.
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15 Aug 2012 Branded Packaging Continues to Grow in Popularity

Branded packaging is hot. Our customers are always looking for new ways to communicate their brand message and remain memorable to their customers, and branded packaging is a great way to do that. We are currently custom printing and branding everything from corrugated shipping boxes, mailer envelopes, plastic and paper tape and of course, a wide variety of void fill products including inflatable air pillows.

An area often overlooked in terms of communication potential is that of paper-based void fill. Your interior packaging is one of the first things your customers see and they are likely to form an opinion about you and your company based on that void fill or packing material. If you don’t believe that, recall your first impression when as a consumer, you opened a box and found it to be filled with foam peanuts, or some other form of non-green, non customer-friendly packaging.

Minimums may apply, but we can custom print nearly all of the interior packaging products we sell. Two of the newest and most popular are:

Packaging Paper on Rolls

Virtually every type of paper we stock and many we do not stock are available custom printed. This includes our 30# recycled newsprint; 40# Kraft, 50# gray bogus, and even our 60# indented Kraft. The secret on the indented paper is we print it before it is indented. The end result is a textured finish that has a very desirable natural and rustic look.

See the photo showing an increasingly important “Made in the USA” message on plain (flat) Kraft and also on indented Kraft. The recipient consumer cannot help but see your message or logo as they unpack the box to retrieve the items they ordered.

GreenWrap Ready Rolls by Geami

This exceptionaly versatile product line is already available in nineteen different color combinations but if that still does not make the impression you want, we have a couple of custom options for you:

  • Custom color interleaf tissue. We have a wide variety of colors available that are not “stock” items. A great example is black which looks great on natural brown Kraft. It may be a stock item one day soon, but it is available today as a special or custom order.
  • Custom printed interleaf tissue – your logo or message can be printed on the interleaf tissue as shown on the photo included in this post. Submit your art
    work and we’ll be glad to give you a price.

Please remember, when in doubt, ask. We will gladly provide a no cost analysis of your packaging application and provide you with some experienced feedback on your idea or concept. We are certain we can help you make an immediate, positive, and long lasting impression on your most valuable customers through your packaging products.

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14 Mar 2012 Good Domestic Solutions for “Bad” Imported Packaging

International packagingAt the recent International Housewares Show, I had several conversations with a number of people who wanted to talk about the “bad” packaging they are getting from their foreign suppliers. Well over 90% of all house ware products we all buy and use are manufactured and packaged overseas, which typically results in substantial savings for the importing USA company. However, it can also lead to major headaches and unexpected costs when the packaging that is also being imported does not satisfy varying domestic requirements. (more…)

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17 Nov 2011 Bartering Organizations – The Ugly Side of Sustainability

Money Down the DrainSustainability, when defined as something that by design reproduces itself indefinitely and never ends, is a worthy objective in almost any facet of life or business. However, I have found absolutely nothing that lives on forever the way a barter dollar does. Regardless of what you are told, this gross and corrupt example of sustainability is not for the benefit of the buyer or seller but for the organization sponsoring the program. I can’t say bartering is not good for anyone, but I can tell you how awful it was for us. (more…)

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21 Oct 2011 Sustainable Packaging Dilemma – When Bad Packaging Gets Worse

Box in need of helpI’ll put it bluntly but politely – most secondary packaging (boxes, tape, etc.) we receive from overseas is not very good. People have shared countless stories with us about boxes that smell funny, are weak, thinner than expected, don’t stack well, don’t hold up in shipment, etc. And it matters little whether the packaging originates in China, India or almost any place else on the globe.

Domestically produced boxes, even boxes like our 100% recycled content Globe Guard® boxes, are better and stronger than the vast majority of corrugated boxes that are used to ship the imported products we all purchase. It is widely accepted that when the US buyer negotiates a lower price with a foreign manufacturer, one of the areas that is most easily cheapened is the packaging used for shipping it here. (more…)

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