Package Functionality vs. Sustainability

At the Packaging Optimization Summit last month in Toronto, a clear theme emerged: You cannot compromise the functionality of a package for the sake of...

June 20, 2013

By Kyle Ous | Manager, Packaging Optimization Practice

The Packaging Optimization Summit last month, which was one day during the larger PACKEX Toronto event, brought together several industry thought leaders from CPG and retail companies.  As each one took the stage to discuss the business challenges surrounding sustainability and collaboration, a clear theme emerged:  You cannot compromise the functionality of a package for the sake of sustainability.  In fact, there is a packaging optimization conundrum when you add distribution networks, product handling techniques, and product life cycle analyses to the sustainability discussion.  From my own supply chain assessment experiences, I know that product is frequently damaged during transport, merchandising, and final mile delivery when its package is inadequately designed.  This ultimately has an adverse affect on sustainability.

Bruce Smith, Senior Director of Global Packaging at Molson Coors, made several points during his presentation that really drove this message home.  In regards to its functional role, he explained that packaging is needed to contain, protect, preserve, transport, and inform so the consumer is educated and satisfied with their purchasing decision.  Bruce added that even though each packaging function continues to advance with technology and innovation, it’s imperative to keep the environment in mind when designing new packaging concepts.

The good news is you can have the best of both worlds if you use a systems approach to packaging design.  Packaging optimization closes the gap between packaging engineering and supply chain operations, allowing you to gain a competitive advantage and achieve your business and sustainability goals.  In the case of product damage, it enables you to lower the risk of rework and replacement costs as well as any unintended side effects which are harmful to our planet’s future.

How does your organization’s supply chain strategy balance the fine line between package functionality and sustainability?  Let’s keep the conversation going – drop me a note at

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