Make your Sustainable Packaging SMART — Part 3 of 5 Attainable

Adam Peek
3 min readFeb 3, 2021


The first 2 components of a SMART goal are Specific and Measurable, but the attainability portion is one of my favorite aspects of a good plan. Why? Because it’s the place where the most amount of back and forth should be happening in the room. I’m a contrarian by nature and so I love a good rigorous debate!

(Side note, if you can’t tell already, I love a good Simpsons gif!)

The “specific” and “measurable” portions are fairly objective in nature with binary questions to answer. Is this specific and how will we measure it? Measuring becomes a bit more subjective but you need to end up and fairly specific place.

I think of the attainability portion of sustainable packaging goal setting as the “dreaming and brainstorming” time. Going back to a few previous articles, let’s imagine you are working on sustainable packaging initiatives for a retail food company.

You decide that by 2025, you want to convert all of your stand up pouches (specific and time bound) to 50% PCR materials (measurable) and work with a printer who is certified as a Sustainable Green Printer (specific and measurable). You still with me?

The questions of attainability should come fast and furious at this point!

  1. Does this material currently exist in the market? (Hint…yes)
  2. What types of tests would we need to do to make it compatible with our product?
  3. Is our current printer SGP certified?
  4. Can we do better by 2025? (This is my favorite question in attainability, BTW…stop settling for what is currently attainable!)
  5. Why 2025? Can we do this by 2022?

I won’t keep going, but I hope you get the point of the exercise. Similar to the GAP principle from part 2, you don’t simply need to stop at “what is attainable today?” but rather you can push the envelope in goal setting and dream big! Ask “what could be available in the future?, “what would be need to get there?”, and “what happens to our brand and for our consumers if we do it!”

Quick detour about SGP, because I think it’s really important when setting goals. My friend, Roz Bandy, shared this with me about SGP:

Key benefits of using an SGP certified printer

Find cost savings through resource conservation, waste management, and energy use measurement

Improve efficiency in their production to reduce environmental impacts

Improved credibility through a third party audit of their sustainability management system

They quantify and monitor the ongoing impacts of their operations

Compliance with all regulations is audited and ensured

I think Millipore Sigma is a great example of setting SMART goals and not letting current attainability get in their way of future innovation.

Check out their SMASH Packaging plan here. It’s deep rooted, highly specific, and actionable for sure. In case you don’t have time to read the whole thing, here’s a quick synopsis: (I also interviewed Fabien Thibault, their Global Manager, Product & Packaging Sustainability on the People of Packaging Podcast (Season 3, Episode 10))

In conclusion, if you want to set attainable sustainable goals, don’t stop at simple answering the question, “can we currently do this thing?” Dream bigger. Bring in companies and packaging professionals who can tell you what is being worked on and what you may want to help strive towards. Innovation will not be pressed forward if brands and manufacturers simply stop at what is the current best option. Let’s press forward together for the sake of your brand and our globe.

As always, I’m happy to share my network of packaging innovators with you all. Through the podcast and my nearly 15,000 connections (and growing) on LinkedIn, I get to talk with the most forward thinking people in the industry. I’m always available to talk sustainability, packaging, hip hop, or the Denver Nuggets at

Tomorrow, I will cover the idea of relevance in goal setting.



Adam Peek

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