Sustainable Perspective

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…)

Read More

09 Jul 2011 Innovation is the Key in Sustainable Packaging

Die cut box with built in partitions

DIE CUT BOX WITH BUILT-IN PARTITIONS

“What makes one package greener than another?” It’s a rather simplistic question that does not permit a brief or concise answer. It was recently asked of me by an intern working for a governmental agency, and I began by telling him that my response was only my opinion, but one that would hold up in most circles. I added that when we attempt to answer that question we look at packaging in three critical areas:

  1. SOURCE – What is the packaging product and where does it comes from? For example, recycled content, PCW percentage, FSC certified, etc.
  2. LIFE CYCLE – Where is the packaging material likely to end up after its initial use? Is it reusable, recyclable, biodegradable, compostable, etc?
  3. USE- How is the packaging material used and does it eliminate or minimize the use of a different and perhaps less eco-friendly product?

(more…)

Read More

17 Aug 2010 Branding and Messaging Goes Way Beyond Sustainability

We are firm believers in branding and our customers notice and appreciate the fact that every Globe Guard box we make has our logo proudly printed on the bottom for all to see. However, every once in a while we are involved in a packaging application that really makes us think about the non-business messaging we communicate to others.

custom printed tape

Sennco Solutions Custom Printed Tape

Chris Marszalek, the president and co-founder of Sennco Solutions, has become a close friend as well as a valued customer. Anyone who has ever met Chris will tell you he is a savvy business man, a loving husband and father, and an incredibly hard worker, but what is most notable is that Chris is a devoted Christ follower. His faith and God are important to him and he does not hesitate to allow his faith to influence his business life, in fact he would be the first to tell you, he wouldn’t have it any other way.

That is why we were not totally surprised when Chris told us he wanted to print one of his favorite Bible verses on his box sealing tape. Proverbs 16:20 – “Blessed is he who trusts in the LORD”. Certainly a request we don’t hear every day but one not totally unexpected from a man like Chris.

custom packaging tape

Sennco Solutions is a leading designer and manufacturer of retail, anti-theft devices so you could say they are in the business of keeping honest people honest. If his new tape was going to communicate a marketing message, he could have easily selected a different Bible verse directed at dishonest behavior or even printed the quite appropriate Eighth Commandment on his tape – Thou shall not steal. That would have been clever and eye catching, but this was not about marketing or being clever, it is about communicating who Chris is and what he believes.

(more…)

Read More

05 Aug 2010 Canon Printer Packaging – Not Eco Consistent or Up to Date

One of the things I find most interesting about sustainable packaging as well as quite frustrating at times, is that it is constantly changing. We know firsthand that what was considered green just a short two years ago is no longer acceptable as the products, processes and popular thought have all changed.

The packaging for a new Canon desk top printer we recently purchased is a perfect example of this.

What Canon Used in Terms of Packaging

To get the printer from Thailand to us, Canon used a virtual smorgasbord of packaging and unfortunately most of it is not very green by today’s standards. The products they used are shown in the photo below and included:

Cannon's Printer Packaging

• Almost 2,700 square inches of heavy-grade corrugated (4.9 lbs. worth)
• 4 molded poly styrene corner protectors
• 4 paper board tubes
• Various corrugated pads and inserts
• A few flexible foam surface protectors
• A wide variety of high density polyethylene sheets and bags

To their credit, everything that was not a paper based product included a recycle code, even the polystyrene corner protectors. They were clearly molded to show their PS, #6 recycle code. Good luck with that since there are few facilities able or willing to take in polystyrene in any form.
(more…)

Read More

21 Jul 2010 Hybrids Not Included – What Green Businesses Can Learn from Auto Makers

I could no longer put off a task that I enjoy almost as much as an IRS audit or root canal surgery – I had to shop for a new car. I know for some it is a fun occasion but for most of my life as a salesman, a car is a temporary business tool and shopping for one is the equivalent for me of a carpenter buying a new circular saw or a landscaper purchasing a new lawn mower.

Today’s Society and Market Pressures

In addition to truly hating the games and negotiating involved in the purchasing process, today we also have to deal with the questions of “hybrid or not” and “ foreign or domestic brand”? I realize the line on imported or domestic has become incredibly fuzzy with foreign car makers doing assembly in the US and we all know American car manufacturers are building their cars in other countries but we still tend to think of some brands as US made and others as imports.

Perhaps for us the question of hybrid or not, is a much more difficult decision because we own and operate a high profile green business and because we truly believe we should minimize our own carbon footprint if we are going to guide others in doing so. Late last year I wrote a blog post about my wife’s new Honda Insight and how much she enjoyed it and I admit we really appreciate the mid forties MPG the car delivers. We set out on our car buying trip, with a hybrid as the ideal, likely choice for us.

Auto Makers – To Green or Not to Green

Our first two stops were at Chevy and Ford dealers because my wife and I had already decided that our preference would be to buy a U.S. brand this time around. However, we were both shocked by the lack of inventory at the Chevy dealer we visited and NO hybrid cars to offer.

We went to the Ford dealer across the street and I immediately took a liking to a Ford Escape hybrid model. We were disappointed to determine that we probably knew as much about hybrid autos as the salesman who tried to help us. In addition, the floor model we were looking at was the only one they had in stock and the answer on anything we asked was NO! No deals, no financing, no incentives, no kidding. “We have a lot of great deals and promotions going but our hybrids are not included”. (more…)

Read More

28 Jun 2010 Let’s Talk about Sustainable Packaging

Dennis Salazar, Sustainable Packaging Speaker


Over the course of the last three years I have been privileged to share my, at times, unusual perspective on eco friendly packaging with many audiences ranging from high school students to the International Housewares Show. I truly work to make each presentation conversational and a dialogue rather than a monologue, and I would like to interact with your group.

Green Expectations versus Deliverable

It is not easy to speak for an hour or less on a subject as broad and complex as sustainable packaging. I also realize in many cases the audience can vary from the incredibly well studied and knowledgeable to someone who is just beginning their search for answers.

Sustainability can also be a very emotional topic for many people and they often come to a presentation hoping if not expecting a speaker to confirm their own firm position and opinion about a specific product or process. Anyone expecting easy, simple answers is likely to be disappointed because there are few to be found in the many complicated and constantly changing areas of packaging and sustainability.

The Cost of a Green Speaker

In most cases, the cost is minimal to free. Like anyone else I have a speaking fee chart but rarely does it apply. I often deviate from my “price list” based on the following variables:

• Who is paying the bill? Is my client a large corporation or a non for profit?
• Who is the audience and are they paying a fee to someone to be there? If they are there at no cost, I am not likely to charge for my services.
• Is the event being held in a city that I can travel to economically and does it work in conjunction with my other travel plans?
• If not, are travel expenses being reimbursed?
• Is there an opportunity for me to engage with members or participants at a conference or meeting? Picture me at a roadside holding a 100% PCW corrugated sign that reads: “I work for contacts”.

If you have an event coming up and are interested in having a green speaker as part of your agenda, give me a call. If the “fit” is right for both of us, I think you will find my thoughts and content a little different from the usual approach to the important but somewhat dry topic packaging sustainability.

______________________
eco-friendly-packaging-storeVisit the Globe Guard ® Green Packaging Store for –

Green Shipping Boxes
Eco Friendly Packaging Materials
Discounts on Eco Friendly Shipping Supplies

Learn more about the Globe Guard ® Resusable Box

Read More

23 Jun 2010 Packaging Sustainability and Baby Steps

Too Much Packaging!


The nouveau green packaging industry loves to talk about biodegradability, recyclability, compostability, recycled content, PLA, PCW and a constantly growing variety of green acronyms. They are also just as eager to debate which product or process is best for the customer and for the environment.

We ourselves are helping to lead the charge on reusable and recycled content packaging products but often times we all over look the easiest sustainability “R” of all and that is reduce. Packaging reduction opportunities are usually very simple to identify and almost always even easier to correct.

A Perfect Example – A Recent Shipment from Zappos.com

Zappos.com is a terrific company and one of my personal favorites but the recent order (photo) we received from them caught my attention. The box they used to ship our order of baby shoes is obviously more than two times larger than it really needed to be.

To be fair, it could have been almost any internet retailer, shipping almost any order and most of them are indeed guilty of this same sustainability crime. I realize it is possible the packer simply selected the wrong size box but having reviewed and assessed many order picking and packing stations; I know the correct size box is usually not available for the packer to utilize.

“Use the smallest box available” is the common direction a packer receives but the smallest box available is frequently not the right size for the application and product being shipped. Using an oversized box obviously adds packaging material cost as well as much more difficult to calculate costs such as storage space, shipping cube space, fuel costs, load inefficiencies, etc. Perhaps even more important, it just plain looks wasteful to an ever vigilant eco conscious consumer. (more…)

Read More

14 Jun 2010 Green Accountability and Visibility of Imported Reusable Bags

At a recent conference I attended as I was walking the show aisles, I was handed an “eco friendly reusable bag” by one of the exhibitors. As you can imagine, that always gets my attention, plus by that time, I was carrying sufficient items and information, to be grateful for a bag.

What the Green Supplier Wants You to See

We’re not going to get into the bag manufacturer or even the exhibitor that was handing the bags out, because it could have been one of many different suppliers who put a bright spotlight on the green speak and intentionally places the questionable details in the dark.

What the bag supplier chose to make highly visible is “80% post consumer waste” which was printed in large, bold letters on the side panel of the bag. “Pretty impressive,” I thought, knowing that rarely are non-woven reusable plastic bags made out of that high a recycled content, especially of PCW recycled content. “Certainly this bag must be domestic”, I guessed, knowing that as bad as we are about recycling our post consumer plastic waste, other countries are even worse.

I walked the rest of the show, carrying and displaying my “eco friendly reusable bag”.

Green Should Be Beautiful on the Inside, Too

The following day when I emptied my bag, I looked at the two small labels inside and the incredibly tiny print on them. At very close inspection I realized the bag was made of 100% polypropylene and that it was manufactured in China. “Hmmm. That doesn’t sound right,” I thought, recalling the 80% PCW claim printed on the outside of the bag.

I have been told by people who import low cost plastic bags on a daily basis that many Chinese and other foreign manufacturers will gladly sew in any labels you want with any message you want. They are not inclined to allow the truth to get in the way of a good, green message. Their job is to manufacture products as inexpensively as possible and deliver it on time.

It does not take a chemist or mathematician to figure out that if this bag is 100% polypropylene and 80% post consumer waste as they claim, 80% of the polypropylene waste was something else before it was collected, re-processed and re-extruded into a reusable, non-woven polypropylene bag. Here in the US, polypropylene is used mostly for drinking straws, yogurt cups, medicine bottle, ketchup bottles, and other food related packaging uses.

What is the Truth about Plastic Recycling and Use? (more…)

Read More

08 Jun 2010 The Green Get Greener with Reusable Packaging

You Can't Reuse Poor Quality Packaging


Eco Bags is one of our newest customers but I think most would agree they are not band wagon jumpers in the area of reusable or sustainable packaging. In fact, they are often credited as having helped to build the wagon for others, because they’ve been suppliers of reusable shopping bags and other green products for over twenty years. They know green and live it on a daily basis including reusing packaging as often and in every way possible.

Reusable Green Products Deserve Reusable Green Packaging

A quick look at the Eco Bags website shows a wide variety of reusable and eco friendly products designed to help heal and preserve our planet. They offer beautiful stock and custom products in many shapes and colors from domestic manufacturers as well as other parts of the world.

Importing product makes the reuse of factory packaging a challenge because the quality and standards in other parts of the world of some packaging products such as corrugated shipping boxes, are not high as ours. Importing also means the product and packaging have to make a long trip by boat with additional handling at both ends of the voyage. The end result is that in some cases (photo shown above) the poor quality packaging does not hold up nearly as well as the high quality products Eco Bags imports.

Keep in mind that even when the foreign packaging survives the trip to Eco Bags, it will likely require additional shipment to a distribution point, fulfillment house, or even to a retailer. The product may also be custom printed which typically results in additional handling, shipment and repacking.

When Reusing Packaging Is Not Possible

(more…)

Read More

27 Apr 2010 Sustainable Packaging – It’s a Thing of Beauty and Health

Globe Guard Box Customers Making the Right Eco Statement


Everything today is being scrutinized for its impact on the environment and on each of us as human beings. The old adage of “you are what you eat” is proven true and in terms of cosmetics, people now realize your skin is indeed your largest organ and what you apply on the surface has a way of working its way inside.

I applaud this awakening and focus on external and internal health, and whether it is pure, organic, or simply just good for you and tasty, this is a very good thing. And in terms of a market, it is growing rapidly and growing skeptical even faster thanks to the prevalent green washing and outright deception we see in the market.

Eco Consistency Is Not Optional

(more…)

Read More