Natural Foods Retailers Association, the National Cooperative Grocers
Association, the Organic Trade Association, United Natural Foods
and Whole Foods Market’s Green Mission.
“The Responsible Packaging Project is an organic and natural
products industry collaboration working to advance ecologically and
socially responsible packaging. It seeks to raise the bar across industry
through open inquiry and cross-supply chain collaboration and engage the trade in moving toward a zero-waste future,” says Natalie Reit-man-White, executive director of FTSLA.
The Project also works to encourage continuous improvement
through ongoing education and recognition. So far, it has produced
ten Responsible Packaging Forums, addressing topics ranging from
ecological principles (e.g., Natural Step, Zero Waste, Cradle to Cradle) and bio-based substrates to eco-labeling and marketing. These
sessions, with numerous other workshops and webinars have informed
and inspired hundreds of professionals representing diverse functions
across food businesses, suppliers, academics, NGO’s and others.
Recently, the Project released the draft form of its “Responsible
Packaging Guidelines.” These are founded on three pillars: commitment to transparency, extended producer responsibility and ecological systems design principles, with a strong focus on achieving zero
waste. Interested stakeholders are encouraged to review the draft
guidelines and share input on revisions. “We hope these guidelines
will provide a common ‘open source’ framework that will guide action
and catalyze innovation,” says Michael Besancon, senior global vice
president of purchasing, distribution and marketing at Whole Foods.
Recognizing Responsible Packaging Revolutionaries
To inspire innovation, in 2010 the Project launched the Responsible Packaging Awards, which will be given on a bi-annual basis. The
Project partners judge submissions considering factors such as:
• Precautionary principle
• Honest, verified “green” claims, avoiding “greenwash”
2010 Award Recipients
Last year nearly 30 companies across a wide spectrum were recognized
for moving sustainable packaging forward.
Saving Trees/Diverting Paper Waste From Landfills
Many companies made huge strides in reducing the use of tree-based packaging materials including 3 Sisters and Nature’s Path
Foods, which both created bagged bulk-sized “eco-packs” that offer
several boxes-worth of cereal in one large bag and forgo the exterior
cardboard box. Nature’s Path reports
estimated annual savings of 60 to 66
percent in materials, and 437 tons of
paperboard compared to standard retail cereal units. Natures Path also received an award for “right-sizing”
granola bar and cereal boxes to remove excess materials (“dead space”),
and using FSC-Certified, 100 percent
recycled paperboard for these and all
paperboard packaging items. The redesigned cereal box uses 10 percent
less paperboard, saving 144 tons of
materials and waste each year. The
slimmed down granola box requires 36
472,000 gallons of water
and 46 tons
of waste yearly while reducing packaging materials weight by 27 percent.
It’s also enabled the company to increase pallet packing from 120 cases
to 196 cases per pallet, effectively taking six trucks off the road and reducing greenhouse gases by 114,499 lbs
( 39 percent) annually.
Other companies have found ways
to use cardboard packaging to actually sequester carbon and help consumers connect with the
environment. Host Defense’s
cardboard Life Box ( www.lifebox.com) is
infused with tree seeds and mycor-rhizal fungi and the compostable
cardboard acts as a mulch. The company’s website offers step-by-step instructions on how to plant your own
mini forest and even allows you to
track it through online and smart
phone applications. Don’t have room
to plant a mini forest? Through Host
Defense’s website you can connect
with Treelink.org where you can
search by zip code to locate a local organization who will plant your trees.
Pangea, an organic personal care
company, also is a pioneer of this type
Plant this box and create
your own mini-forest.