Make Your Sustainable Packaging SMART — Part 2 of 5 - Measurable

Adam Peek
3 min readFeb 2, 2021

Part 1 of this short 5 part series covered the importance of being specific about your sustainable packaging goals. Specificity and measurability are closely linked for sure, but there is important distinction and I’ll make that here.

Setting measurable goals is just as important as level setting where you currently stand. In the book Gap Selling, Keenan does an excellent job of discussing the current state vs future state and encourages sales professionals to measure and sell to the gap. It’s a similar process when you are looking into strategic goal setting for sustainability. Measure the current state, make sure your future state is measurable, and then you can move into the planning and execution stages in short order.

Let’s begin with measuring where you currently are and aligning your sustainability goals in the future. Let’s say you work for a food or beverage CPG company and your company decides “we need to be more sustainable.” You think, “what does more mean and how will we measure ‘sustainable’?” The specificity portion kicks in and you all decide sustainable means you are going to reduce green house gas (GHG)emissions by 10% year over year for the next 5 years. Groovy!

First you will need to level set your current state and do an audit on your current GHG emissions. Unilever is currently in the process of labeling 70,000 products with a carbon emissions rating which is, no doubt, a daunting task. Perhaps your company doesn’t have the internal resources to ascertain this information, but you’re in luck! There are plenty of consulting companies who you can pay to help you understand this information.

What you may soon realize is through your measuring portion and subsequent planning, is that a material helps you achieve your goals, but is not relevant to your brand and customer base! For example, as my friend Jonathan Quinn shared with me

Plastic packaging has 4X greater life cycle impact than food waste. Meaning food waste has a far worse impact than plastic packaging. A little bit more plastic will have far greater impact on the environment given how massive an issue on a global scale food waste is.

This situation is where many companies end up measuring and defining goals and then soon find out their customers expectations don’t align (covered more in part 4 on Thursday). If you want my 2 cents on the topic, I think global warming is a far greater threat to humanity than landfill usage and ocean plastics (all our issues to be clear). As one of the smartest people I know, Stephen Steele, put it to me

Humanity isn’t going to die because we don’t have enough landfill space…we are going to go extinct because of the carbon in the environment

Deciding what you will measure, how you will measure, when you will measure, and being convicted on why you are measuring it is absolutely critical to driving decision making. Explore all options! Surround yourself with diverse people and opinions during the ideation stage for your plan. Don’t let non specific and unmeasurable words and goals sneak into your plan or you will end up all over the place and, in the end, won’t accomplish much at all

In summary, measuring your current state and having a measurable future state is critical…whatever you decide your sustainable packaging goal(s) are. As always, anyone quoted here in these articles is willing to help you in your journey. I’m always available at

Until tomorrow…



Adam Peek

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