By Charles Murray, PPi Technologies Group
Sustainability is a complicated matter even for the most resourced companies in the pharmaceutical and personal care industries. However, companies that pursue an agenda of environmental responsibility stand to both enhance consumer perception of their brand and reduce costs. Therefore, it is important for manufacturers in these spaces to implement a practical sustainability strategy that supports their business goals while producing positive results in reducing environmental impact.
Sitting from the perch of a company that both supplies pouch and tray machinery and produces wellness products, PPi Technologies Group has developed a simple checklist of considerations to do just that. We abbreviate these with the acronym SECAMP. SECAMP stands for Sustainability, Environment, Conscious, Approach, for Machines and Pouches. Each word is tied to a different type of consideration that contributes to a sound sustainability strategy.
Sustainability – When you think sustainability, think about compliance with the ordinances of local governing agencies. How these bodies manage matters of environmental regulation, waste disposal and recycling will ultimately determine the parameters of your company’s strategy. Introducing a material or container innovation that should be recyclable into an area with no recycling infrastructure for that material will not contribute to a successful sustainability platform.
Environment – Assess the true environmental impact of your supply chain. What are you putting into the environment as a result of your supply chain? Can you select a lightweight packaging format that minimizes the carbon output of your distribution channels? If the packaging format breaks down, does it just break down into plastic pellets that wind up in our water supply? Can your package be incinerated, which generates energy and produces the byproduct of slag that helps to reinforce certain metals used in construction? A solid sustainability strategy should offer a minimum environmental footprint when all aspects of the supply chain—from sourcing to disposal—are considered. For example, biodegradable films will only work if they have a breakdown temperature system in place, but many do not. In Florida, plastic packaging at the end of its life can be collected and incinerated at one of the 14 waste-to-energy incinerators throughout the state, leaving no plastic behind.
Conscious—Weigh the consequences and impact of your supply chain output. Even when your company aims to minimize its environmental footprint, there may be some environmental consequences to your choices. Know what those are and continue working to minimize them.
Approach—Have a full understanding of the measures necessary to implement your sustainability strategy. What new equipment, personnel, workforce training or consumer-targeted education is required? Be sure to empower retailers with a complete understanding of your products’ recycling capabilities so their staff can pass on correct information to inquiring consumers.
Machine—Make sure that your equipment supports efficiency and energy savings. Stainless steel equipment with no painted details is less energy-intensive to produce without that last step. Machines with energy-saving modes and lower air supplies (think 70psi vs.100psi) can also minimize air and energy usage.
Pouch—Examine all design decisions around your packaging format. Does your packaging vision involve a paper label and tray, which require added steps in recycling? Is it digitally printed, which requires less energy? What about mixing reclaimed material to supplement virgin material? Knowing the details will help you understand how the package ends its lifecycle—the incinerator or landfill—and round out a true assessment of your company’s environmental impact.
Life sciences and personal care companies must already contend with many challenges around regulatory compliance and brand security. Adopting the SECAMP checklist can help make navigate the hurdles surrounding sustainability.
PPitg is a member of PMMI and will be addressing sustainability in packaging at PACK EXPO East. Visit the company at booth 2011 to learn more.
About Charles Murray
Born in South Africa, Charles Murray worked for South African Breweries as a packaging chemist and marketing professional. He immigrated to USA in 1988 and joined Arpac as the vice president of Marketing and later, in 1992 joined KHS as vice president of Marketing in Florida. In 1996 started, Mr. Murray started PPi Technologies Group as CEO. Today, the company has three divisions: StandUp, stickpack pouches, tray and thermoform single dose and end-of-line carton machines; Distillery using StandUp pouches for distribution of Redi-2-DrinQ brands; Wellness division offering 25 all natural health and safety brands packed by the in-house Redi-2-PaQ contract packing company.