Shades of Green in Packaging

by RaeAnne Marsh

Recycling gets a lot of the “sustainability” attention as businesses aim to be more socially conscious, but Pioneer Packaging is putting a focus on another point of the product spectrum — packaging, and how that packaging is manufactured. In fact, Pioneer Packaging operates on the belief that some green decisions don’t have anything to do with packaging materials but rather with the energy efficiency of the equipment and methods used.

Earlier this year, the company installed solar panels on its facility to reduce its carbon footprint in the years to come. “It’ll take about seven years to recoup our investment,” says Victor Austin, VP of marketing, “but it helps us be more efficient and guide our employees and customers into thinking more along the lines of efficiency.” An example of sustainability impact from improved efficiency is Pioneer Packaging’s use of analytics to coordinate between itself and its customers to manage inventory and reduce the number of deliveries, dropping in some cases from four times per week to once per week. “It takes energy to pull orders and to deliver,” Austin points out.

Also at issue are the types of materials used. “Many are more energy efficient to manufacture or to recycle,” Austin says. But, he notes, “it is not as simple as just saying ‘paper or plastic?’ In applications for different types of materials, what works best depends on how it is used for specific requirements.”

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