Sustainable Products

16 Jul 2009 A Better Cushioned Mailer from Globe Guard

Back on March 26th we published an article on this blog talking about sustainable packaging dead ends. In it I described a personal pet peeve which is single use products that are destined to end up in a land fill. It only adds salt to the sustainable wound for me when the manufacturer leads customers to believe that they are doing a good, green thing. An Imperfect Sustainable Packaging Example - Cushioned Mailers We have all used them at one time or another but cushioned (foam or bubble) lined paper mailers feature two excellent materials. Unfortunately they are laminated together and cannot be separated for easy sorting and recycling. Since the outer layer is paper, they are likely to hold up for only one trip through USPS, FedEx, or UPS so it is usually a prompt and short trip to your local land fill. Think about the millions of these that are used for home or office and you can see how easily the problem is compounded. A Near Perfect Sustainable Packaging Solution - Globe Guard 100% Recyclable (Plastic) Cushioned Mailers [caption id="attachment_634" align="alignright" width="220" caption="A Better Padded Mailer"]A Better Padded Mailer[/caption] Before the anti-plastic people get all worked up, please keep in mind that on sustainable, green packaging, it is not always about bad versus good. Sometimes the decision is not all that simple and the choice is between very bad and perhaps, not so bad. Or in this case between completely unrecyclable and easily recyclable. I know I would likely be escorted out of some green gatherings for using the C word (compromise) but that is the reality of current eco friendly packaging options. The key is to know what you are using in terms of content and how or if it satisfies the sustainability requirements of reuse, recycle and reduce. What Makes These Plastic Cushioned Mailers Green
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14 Jul 2009 Green Means Never Having to Say You’re Sorry (for using a higher grade of packaging than necessary)

mailing-envelope-from-globe-guard-eco-friendly-packaging-productsMuch of the attention on sustainable secondary packaging is rightfully given to using too much of a given packaging material. A compounded example is using a box that is oversized for a shipment, thereby also requiring more void fill product than necessary. We have all seen the examples of bad packaging posted here on ISP and on other excellent green focused sites like Sustainable is Good. We like to scrutinize not only the quantity of packaging also the quality of the packaging being used for a specific application. Some of this is for good environmental reasons but it is important to note that it often results in a lower cost to our customers, and today, that is a very good thing. Typical Examples of Over Packaging These include some of my all time favorites that can often be found in many mail rooms and shipping areas.
  • Using cushioned mailers for products that do not require cushioning such as soft goods, textiles, paper products, etc. I have written many times on bubble and foam mailers that are destined to wind up in a land fill because the plastic and paper used to make the mailer are laminated together. Both packaging materials are recyclable in theory only, since they cannot be separated and effectively recycled.
  • The use of white corrugated and envelope mailers of almost any type and configuration. Why do customers pay more for a product that is less eco friendly, looks less eco friendly and will arrive at its destination looking worse due to its white surface?  When a client wants to be “obviously” green and reduce costs, this is usually one of the first areas we look at and change.
  • Utilizing Tyvek, Nylon reinforced and other premium or reinforced mailer envelopes.There are some marvelous materials being used for applications that do not require them. They usually have excellent specific properties such as moisture protection or puncture resistance but are also not recyclable because of the composition and structure.
Why Do Companies Over Package?
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18 Jun 2009 Response of the Pulp People – A Sustainable Packaging Adventure

Though the above title may sound like yet another edition of the Star Wars series, this post is actually about the number of very good companies that are now producing “stock” molded pulp products. In the past the words stock and pulp were never used in the same sentence unless you were talking about egg cartons or soft drink carriers but the number of companies offering standard, “no tooling required” packaging solutions is growing quickly. Eco Flex Molded Pulp and Beyond Five weeks ago we launched this new green product which is very unique in that it is flexible molded pulp able to be bent, folded, rolled and easily hand torn to size, making it ideal for a multitude of packaging applications. We still love our new Eco Flex molded pulp product but we also realize that in some situations, an application specific form fitting molded product may be better for the customer and application. molded-pulp-packaging-for-bottlesMolded pulp in any shape or form is 100% recycled content, usually newspaper PCW and it is also “obviously” green. We believe the clarity of that green message is becoming more and more important and quite frankly, very few products fall into that category of being undisputedly green. There is often debate on almost any imaginable packaging product one could offer or use, but I have never heard two green minded individuals argue over the merits of molded pulp packaging. Where’s the Adventure in Stock Molded Pulp Packaging The adventure comes from a manufacturer guessing at what sizes customers could potentially want and making a substantial investment in a mold to create it. In all honestly, it is usually not as wild of a guess as it may appear because there may be a customer or two with ready business that take some of the risk out of the decision. In many industries, there are indeed common or standard sizes that often repeat. In the glass jar and candle businesses for example, it is not at all unusual to see 1”, 2” 3” and 4” diameter candles and standard wine bottles tend to have the same shape and size. Tooling can also get very creative so that a single cavity may be able to accommodate various diameters of products. How Does This Impact Your Green Packaging Efforts?
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11 Jun 2009 Printed Water Activated Tape is Creative, Sustainable Packaging at its Best

printed-water-activated-tapes What do a West Coast oyster farm, a Wisconsin maker of fine cutting tools, a creative designer of green products for the office and unique online green products store, all have in common? They all decided to combine unprinted boxes with custom printed tape to -
  • Communicate their green brands
  • Make their secondary packaging as eco friendly as possible
  • Reduce their packaging costs
[caption id="attachment_495" align="alignright" width="200" caption="FREE machine for new printed tape customers. Contact for details."]FREE machine for new printed tape customers. Contact for details.[/caption] The Benefits of Printed Water Activated Tape
  • It is colorful, stands out and your customers remember your message, logo, and brand
  • It is a much less expensive branding alternative to costly custom printed boxes
  • It has a high green perception rating from even casual observers and customers
  • It’s a paper product so no stripping of plastic tape is necessary before recycling the corrugated box
  • It bonds better to the box making it safer, more rigid and much more secure because it prevents tampering and pilferage
Sustainable Packaging Is Creative? Yes it can be.  Take a look at what these terrific customers decided to do to convey a consistent and memorable image.
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04 Jun 2009 Sustainable Packaging and the Magic Bullet

People who are eager to find quick and simple solutions to some of our most complex sustainability problems are often disappointed when they hear me say there is no packaging magic bullet that satisfies all requirements, at all times, and on all products. In fact, I would go so far as to say that rarely does one product do everything that is necessary for a tough application. If there is a “universal solution” to our eco dilemma, it is probably multiple products and resources working together, each bringing something unique, different and green to the application. One Tough Green Packaging Application bad-axe-eco-friendly-packagingSay hello to Bad Axe Tool Works, a company with a neat name, interesting web site and a premier manufacturer of cutting tools for woodworking and other wood related activities like pruning and clearing trees. When we met them they were concerned with preventing damage during shipment and making sure their packaging was as green as possible. Considering the incredibly sharp nature of their products, it was definitely a challenge. One Great, Excellent Packaging Partner Adams Foam in Chicago makes a terrific product called Green Cell Foam. The product is made from non-GMO corn, and after use, it can be recycled, composted or simply dissolved in water. It is also surprisingly tough and able to stand up to rugged applications like the one that was developing at Bad Axe Tools Works. We had conversations with the nice people at Adams Foam but nothing brings packaging people together like a good, challenging application and Bad Axe did indeed bring us together. What it Took to Get the Job Done (See Photos Below)
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02 Jun 2009 Corrugated Die Cut Mailers – A Greener, Eco Friendly, and Better Corrugated Box Option

eco-friendly-corrugated-mailers-lid-open
They are known by many names including literature mailers, tuck and fold mailers, shipper boxes and even pizza boxes, but the corrugated die cut mailer is making a big comeback and guess what? It is greener and no longer white. What Makes These Corrugated Mailers Greener? In the past, virgin board was used to make these versatile shipping and storage containers but today we are making them out of recycled corrugated materials. More importantly they are being made out of 100% recycled material which means they cannot be white on the outside. Many people don’t realize it but when you give a box a white exterior, that outer layer (usually 1/3 of the overall board content) has to be virgin. If you want it white on the inside too, then 2/3 of the corrugated content must be made from virgin fibers. Remember our motto, a virgin fiber is a terrible thing to waste, especially when it is not necessary. Why Have Die Cut Mailers Been Historically White The theory was that they looked better, cleaner, nicer, etc. There is no argument about that when the product is shipped ... but have you ever seen one of those mailers when it arrives at its intended destination? Whether is ships via FedEx, UPS or USPS, the mailer no longer looks pristine or white upon arrival. Typically it is dirty, scuffed and even covered with fingerprints. The white outer layer looks great when it is shipped but the appearance rapidly degenerates as soon as it leaves the shipper’s facility. What Makes These Corrugated Mailers Better?
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28 May 2009 Soft-But-Firm Sustainable Packaging Solution

[caption id="attachment_423" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Eco Nest Eco Friendly Void Fill"]Eco Nest Eco Friendly Void Fill[/caption] Those are words usually reserved for describing a mattress or pillow but it this case they are also the best way to describe our new Globe Guard Eco Nest void fill product.  It is very effective, undeniably green, an amazingly simple idea, and quite frankly it handles certain applications better and lower in cost than most “high tech” or “engineered” packaging solutions. Sustainable Packaging Simplicity Globe Guard Eco Nest is essentially nothing more that shredded corrugated board. Perhaps a little packaging science went into the determining the best width and length of the strands of corrugated board but it is as basic a concept as possible - used corrugated boxes are recycled, shredded and turned into protective, loose void fill. The product can be used over and over but when it is time for disposal, it can be recycled again and probably be used to make new corrugated boxes like our Globe Guard 100% recycled PCW corrugated boxes.  The whole concept and process is so simple, it’s almost ingenious. The Pros and Cons of Loose Void Fill The greatest benefit by far is that loose void fill easily and fully conforms to the shape of the product being packed. That is what makes products like foam peanuts appealing from a user/shipper perspective, though perhaps not from a receiver/customer perspective. Loose fill dispenses easily and quickly, is usually light weight, and most versions are relatively low in cost. The down side of loose fill is that it often settles and crushes, especially when used to pack dense, heavy products. It is not at all unusual to receive and open a package where the product being shipped has drifted to the bottom of the box and the loose fill packaging material has shifted to the top where it offers little or no protection. Globe Guard Eco Nest conforms and supports but does not breakdown. What Makes Globe Guard Eco Nest Different? When a bird makes a nest in a tree, the components, usually twigs and blades of grass, have little strength individually, however when woven and working together, they are amazingly strong and resilient. We have all seen a nest on the ground that fell from a tree due to a wind storm, and noticed it is always fully intact. That is the same concept that makes Globe Guard Eco Nest such a terrific product from a performance standpoint. The shredded corrugated strands mesh to support even the heaviest and most delicate products - even when they are shipped via USPS, UPS and FedEx.
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12 May 2009 Can Sustainable Packaging Be Attractive and Decorative?

It sure can be and it can also be environmentally and socially responsible as well.  We are very pleased to announce a temporary addition to Globe Guard Products.com. Through a special, limited agreement with a top tier, well respected manufacturer, we are very pleased to offer eight of their eco-friendly decorative packaging products on a close out basis. Decorative sustainable packaging that is more than pretty on the outside eco-friendly-decorative-packaging-1All 100% natural and renewable materials were used on these products and the term “hand crafted” truly applies to them with all of the manufacturing performed off shore in a totally committed, fair trade environment. The products include -
  • Three different, beautiful handmade gift boxes, all made out of treeless paper.
  • A black Abaca bag with a bamboo lock
  • A very unique twine basket.
  • A beautifully crafted wooden tray that is perfect for product presentations.
  • Two different size, handmade, lightweight embroidered bags. Every bag has a unique and different embroidered design and the detailed work is rare in a product in this price range.
Where and how is decorative packaging used?
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30 Apr 2009 Hey Green Business Owner, Your Boxes Are Talking about You

What are your boxes saying about you? I have come to believe that every box has a story to tell about the person or company who sent it. I am quite sure that together with the other packaging/shipping materials being used, the box sends a silent but powerful message to the recipient about the shipper.
  • If you are utilizing “used/recycled” boxes are they saying you are conservative and considerate of the environment or are they screaming, cheap and uncaring about the image you project to your customers?
  • If you are using boxes that are obviously too large for the product(s) being shipped, are they communicating your lack of knowledge and/or concern about the correct use of packaging materials?
  • If your customer’s product arrives damaged, are your boxes saying that you would rather save a few cents than to develop a long term relationship with them?
  • If you are using a standard corrugated box with any percentage of virgin fiber, are your boxes admitting you are willing to sacrifice a few trees in a misinformed effort to save some money or time?
Our Green Customers Are Not Like Everyone Else And thank God they are not. However, this also means that we as a supplier to them, our packaging not only has to perform as well and be as cost competitive as everyone else’s, it also has to be as green as possible.
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28 Apr 2009 Eco Friendly Corrugated Boxes – “100% PCW” is Not 100% Bad or 100% Good

globe-guard-100-per-cent-pcw-stock-boxesIn the last week I’ve spoken with two people, one from a very large, green company and the other from a very small, green company. Both had very strong opinions about 100% PCW content corrugated boxes. “I must have 100% PCW or as close to 100% as possible,” one said. The other said, “I recently tried 100% PCW but it failed miserably”. Both comments demonstrated a basic misunderstanding about corrugated, how it is made and how even 100% PCW it can be modified to satisfy almost any application. I sincerely believe that the “100% PCW” requirement has in many cases become at best an ineffective guideline, and at worst a crutch for people who want to make a difficult decision, as simple as possible.  Corrugated made of PCW material is an excellent sustainable packaging solution and a critical part of a long term environmental solution, but it has to be combined with some basic product knowledge to be cost effective as well as performance effective. Corrugated Fun Facts. OK, not fun but good to know corrugated-side-viewFor over a hundred years, almost since it was first used to line and support men’s’ tall hats, corrugated board has been made virtually the same way. A sheet of corrugated board is made up of three approximately equal (by weight) components, two face liner board sheets and the medium (the fluted layer) in between the inner and outer sheets. If you make one of those three components 100% PCW, your board is approx. 33% PCW, two PCW components would result in 66% PCW, etc. Once you go below 100% PCW content on any of the components, the recycled content gets fairly “gray” but if someone is claiming 90% PCW, that is not only unlikely, it is virtually impossible. Since there is no accurate scientific way after production to verify the recycled content percentage or type (PCW or post production) of each component, a vendor is fairly free to claim almost any PCW percentage they care to.
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