Will Producer Responsibility Reduce Packaging Waste?


Packaging Waste

Packaging waste is a big topic these days.

  • Solid waste landfills are overflowing.
  • Some states and municipalities are now requiring restaurants to compost food waste.
  • As of January 2015, Fed Ex and UPS are charging not simply by weight but for volume.  The shipper  has to provide the dimensions of the package and is charged accordingly.
  • As in certain European countries, the topic of extended producer responsibility is coming to the fore.

What responsibility does the producer of the packaging have for the packaging after the contents are consumed? The answer is that it is evolving rapidly.

Asyousow.org has published an article entitled Waste and Opportunity 2015 that addresses the issue of packaging waste specifically. While it criticizes certain styles of packaging that are not recyclable, it also praises some companies as industry leaders.

The reality is that most companies have strong internal incentives to reduce their packaging.  Non only is material reduction a direct cost saving and a transportation cost saving, it takes a burden off the retailer if done properly. Retailers are pushing for easier secondary packaging (the packaging that gets product to the stores) and makes it easier to stock shelves and keep them neat.

So why is it not happening quickly?  There are some good reasons:

  • Investments in current technology are not fully amortized.
  • The risk that change brings a working production line
  • Planning needs to address how reduction in one form of packaging affects other portions of the packaging.
  • Many companies use co-packers or contract manufacturers to make their goods. Even the largest food companies use outside manufacturers. This means they need to get buy in at both companies.

CSR – Sustainability

At what point do calculations of corporate reputation come into play?  Being a good corporate citizen is more and more important in selling to consumers. Can packaging reduction be aligned with corporate sustainability efforts? They absolutely can. How does a company weigh that in their calculations? It varies from company to company.

Secondary Packaging Change Opportunities

One of the biggest areas for change is secondary packaging.  Can corrugated or chipboard packaging be reduced or eliminated? What impact will that have on the primary packaging?  After all, there is no big benefit if the reductions in secondary packaging creates more waste by crushing the primary packaging.

We have spoken with a number of customers who are wrestling with all of these issues.  They have a packaging system that works well, is proven and not fully amortized.  Sure, they would like to achieve cost reductions.  In fact, the are being pressured to do so. But if the proposed change does work quickly and properly, their delivery system is at risk. Some are taking the approach of changing one line in one operation to see the impact.   Others are looking at what needs to happen in primary packaging first in order for the secondary packaging to be reduced.

Bundling  Configurations

There are many ways to bundle a product and it sometimes depends on where the bundle is going. T oread more about bundle configurations, check this article on Bundling to Reduce Packaging.

Frozen Food Is a Great Opportunity

Several of the companies with whom we have talked are food manufacturers. Because the consistency of frozen food is so solid it can support the primary package.  This means that the corrugate commonly used for secondary packaging can be replaced with kraft paper or film bundling with minimal concern for damage to the primary package. At this point the financial exercise is whether the cost of the machine to do the bundling is offset by the savings in material over the period in question for payback.

In fact, any product whose weight supports the primary packaging is a candidate for bundling  and even some where product rigidity makes this an easier decision.

Here are some bundling videos that might make bundling easier to consider.

inline bundling of  3 pack at 40 per minute 

inline bundling with kraft paper

12 pack bundling

eight pack becomes 24 pack

OTC pharma bundling

tissue bundling

Right now we are working on some bundling  where the bundles will line up like soldiers o note shelf. This makes it neater for retailers and reduces packaging waste for the manufacturer -a  win for both.

Please call us to discuss how we can help you with bundling to reduce secondary packaging.



Arrange a Callback



Your request for a callback has been sent to Package Machinery.

If you'd rather not wait for the call back you can call us right now at (413) 732-4000.