BY DENNIS SALAZAROne of the delights of being in the packaging industry for as long as I have been is witnessing the resurgence of many “old” packaging materials such as water activated paper tape, corrugated board in many new uses and on the retail packaging side, the old fashioned glass bottle or jar.
A quick peek in our refrigerator or kitchen pantry will show the variety of packaging materials that now satisfy some of the past, most common applications for glass containers. A wide range of newer packaging solutions ranging from multi-layer boxes to plastics in different grades now replace the traditional glass container for products such as milk, juice and even ketchup.
According their web site www.gpi.org, “recycling one glass bottle saves enough energy to power a 60-watt bulb for four hours, a computer for 30 minutes or a television for 20 minutes”. That is very neat stuff in this day and age; especially considering the relentless “anti-plastic” sentiment of the green market.
From a recycling and up cycling perspective, the new, “hot” material for green home design is counter tops manufactured from guess what? Crushed glass. You can easily see why the glass industry is growing again and why it may be one of the best “new” green packaging solutions.
The Green Packaging Bad NewsWith this increased use of glass, there is also an expected and proportionate rise in damage from full or partial cases of glass packaged products shipping via UPS, FedEx and USPS. Compound this with the fact that many companies now prefer glass over plastic and other non-eco friendly materials for packaging of their healthy, organic or otherwise “green” products, you can see why this is a fast growing problem. It stands to reason, the more glass we use and ship; the more likely we are to have breakage in shipment.
Sustainable packaging and Survival of the FittestDamage leads to unhappy customers and increased costs for everyone so it is not at all surprising to see a company like FedEx devote a large part of their website to package testing. http://www.fedex.com/us/services/pdf/PKG_Testing_Procedures.pdf Similar information can be found at USPS and UPS’s websites but FedEx makes their information clearer and much easier to locate and use.
Regardless of whether you drop test a package seven or ten times and do it from a height of 30”, 36” or 48”, the end result is often times the same. There are many different variations of this test but you can understand why it can be brutal, especially on a glass product, improperly packaged for shipment. The glass container is vulnerable to the impact shock transferred to it from a drop and that is not a good thing.
The Green Packaging Silver LiningFrom the simple perspective of a packaging sales person, especially one who focuses on green, protective secondary packaging, this should all sound like great news. More damage should lead to more packaging and cushioning materials, right?
That is correct in theory but keep in mind the same green buyer who wants glass container packaging for its eco benefits is also the same customer who is likely to demand less secondary packaging, not more. So what is a packager to do?
Green Secondary PackagingIn my opinion, there has never been a time when there has been such a wide variety of affordable, eco friendly secondary packaging products and solutions as are available today. Recycled and recyclable corrugated die cut products, biodegradable inflatable products, and even molded pulp that was once relegated to drink cup carriers are all back in a big way.
There is probably not a product that I am aware of today that cannot be shipped safely anywhere in the world with use of a blocking, bracing, cushioning or void fill material that is obviously and inarguably green. If the first concern is product protection, the close second is green perception so using products that communicate a clear and consistent green message, is more important than ever.
For most of the world drop dead gorgeous means something else but for people with glass or otherwise fragile products, it means product arriving in one piece and that is truly a beautiful thing.
Dennis Salazar is the president of Salazar Packaging, Inc., a certified MBE (Minority Business Enterprise) company specializing in packaging products, equipment and solutions. With over thirty years in the packaging industry, he is known for his tongue in cheek sense of humor as well as his sustainable packaging passion and expertise. Dennis is also a featured blogger at www.packagingdigest.com.
To contact Dennis, please visit his web site: www.salazarpackaging.com