Make your sustainable packaging SMART — Part 1 of 5

Nearly every major company has come out with some type of 2025 or another year goal for their sustainability pledge. Of course, this is needed given the change in buying demographics and power to younger generations as well as sorely needed for our globe. I’ve yet to meet a person working at a company who says, “you know what actually, we want our packaging to be much worse for the environment than it currently is. Can you also make it more expensive?”

So then, what are some ways we can help these companies focus some efforts on the area that I care about…packaging? I decided to use the SMART principle (Specific Measurable Attainable Relevant Time bound) and I’m going to do with a little help from my friends who just so happen to be incredibly smart and brilliant when it comes to issues of sustainability in packaging

My background is primarily working with CPG (Consumer Product Goods) companies around ways they can use products labels, shrink sleeves, and flexible packaging to be sustainable and to tell their brand story and help their customers do the right thing with the packaging at the end of the life. I wrote a series here called “4 P’s of Sustainable Packaging” if that helps with some more context.

Let’s talk about the word specific and why it’s important for CPG companies to be specific when talking about their sustainable packaging goals.

Simply put, a goal that isn’t specific is not really a goal…it’s a dream. Dreams are great and necessary. “We envision a world where there is peace between everyone” or “We want to use more sustainable packaging” are nice statements but they aren’t useful to help drive KPI’s, OKR’s, or other productivity related abbreviations.

In my world, a CPG company could use specificity with a statement like “we will have PCR content in 100% of our flexible packaging” or “100% of our shrink sleeves will have vertical perforations for removal”. These statements then allow the key decision makers to have a metric to judge success or failure. Specificity sets up individuals to know if they are winning or not on a daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual basis when combined with “Time bound”

I asked my friend and TikTok packaging star (@corygated on TikTok), Cory Connors to share about some ways he sees companies using the services at Landsberg in a specific manner:

Replacing bubble wrap with Geami paper
Right sizing boxes to limit or eliminate void fill
Minimizing tape on boxes or using paper tape
Replacing air bag void fill with paper void fill

Karen Fuchs was also super helpful when discussing specificity along with relevance (covered more on Thursday) as she shared with me some frustrations with some people she deals with. She told me:

I see brands evaluating their print more frequently Recently a few customers changed up their print to eliminate metallic foil and UV coatings. Their reasoning.. they wanted their package to reflect a more sustainable package to the consumer. They were hearing the foil and UV makes the packaging “seem” less recyclable and in contrast to their messaging of environmentally friendly packaging.

The specificity of saying, “we are going to eliminate foil and UV coatings” is the key point here from Karen. Perhaps this elimination isn’t fully on brand and so it may not be relevant to your consumer, but that’s a decision you have to make when finalizing your goals.

To begin your goal setting journey towards a more sustainable future, start with specificity. What do you want to accomplish and then find companies to work with who aren’t just going to take what you say and parrot it back, but will challenge your thinking so you can arrive at the sustainable future your brand and our planet needs. I have included Karen and Cory’s LinkedIn profiles if you want to reach out to them to discuss further. I would also love to connect at www.adampeek.com

Tomorrow, I will cover why being able to measure your specific goals is crucial.

I help food, beverage, direct sales, personal care, and CBD/Cannabis companies use labeling and flexible packaging to sustainably sell products