Wal-Mart reframed it as a business strategy, and now eco-friendly packaging is beginning to bear fruit.

By Pauline Hammerbeck

It’s no exaggeration to say 2007 was a watershed year for sustainability: It transformed from something companies were talking and learning about to something they began implementing.

And while Al Gore and his documentary The Inconvenient Truth are credited for garnering broad environmental awareness among consumers and business at large, retailers prompted unprecedented action in the consumer packaged goods sector. In the UK, it was Marks and Spencer and Tesco pledging to put the planet at the heart of their strategies. Here in the United States, it was, of course, Wal-Mart.

Over the past year, the Arkansas-based retailer has guided some 60,000 manufacturers through a trial of its sustainable packaging scorecard, a tool to help its buyers evaluate and rate brands on their waste and energy reduction efforts and to make progress toward the company’s goal to reduce packaging five percent by 2013-equal to removing 213,000 trucks from the road and saving 67 million gallons of diesel fuel each year.

Even before the scorecard was enacted on February 1st of this year, there was plenty of grumbling over it, and the methodologies behind it (Wal-Mart reports 20 percent of its suppliers have yet to enter the system and that, yes, it’s tinkering with the metrics behind the scenes).

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Savvy Brands Lead the Way Toward Lifestyle Change

By Jacqueline T. DeLise

“One of the things you have to remember about sustainability is that it will take us all forever to accomplish.” -William McDonough, author,Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way we Make Things

Everyone is “greening up”, but it is a more convoluted and complicated issue than it appears at first glance. There are as many definitions of “sustainability” as there are questions. Take these few excerpts from the 20,900,000 references I found after “Googling” the word:

  • Sustainability is a process that commands all aspects of human life affecting sustenance.
  • Sustainability means resolving the conflict between the two competing goals: the sustenance of human life and the integrity of nature.
  • Sustainability involves the simultaneous pursuit of economic prosperity, environmental quality and social equity.

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Green Packaging Reduces Theft

MWV (formerly MeadWestvaco) Natralock ( packaging is designed to reduce waste and satisfy sustainability goals of retailers and brand owners. The packaging is secure and durable enough to reduce shrink in retail environments; theft-resistant, laminated paperboard is combined with a clear film or bubble to create a visible package that, in-store, is nearly impossible to tear apart by hand. Once at home, the packaging can be easily and quickly opened with a pair of scissors. Natralock uses 50 to 60 percent less plastic on average than clamshell packaging, can include up to 50 percent recycled content and has paperboard that can be curb recycled by 57 percent of US households.

Eco-Friendly Bottle Enters Juice Category

Noble Juice is reportedly the first fresh juice brand to use Ingeo natural plastic for its bottles. Natureworks Ingeo ( is a natural plastic material made 100 percent from annually renewable plant resources, rather than oil. The 32oz bottles of premium, natural juices (including tangerine, tangerine/clementine and tangerine/guava/mango blends as well as organic lemonades) are wrapped in EarthFirst Ingeo-based shrink sleeve labels. “With Ingeo, we are also stimulating the mind of our consumers by making our product available in an eco-friendly bottle made 100 percent from an annually renewable natural resource,” says Wade Groetsch, president of Blue Lake Citrus Products.

Green Packaging for CDs/DVDs

Wowpak ( is an innovation solution to cost-effective, recyclable CD and DVD packaging that also delivers visual impact. “As a packaging company, it is becoming increasingly important to satisfy not only our customers’ requirements, but also our environmental responsibilities,” says Wewow managing director Stuart Jones. The pack is composed of one piece of board, die-cut and glued, that is completely recyclable and can hold a CD or DVD and a mini-brochure, or two discs.

Environmentally Friendly Inks Complete the Package

Many brands are making sustainable packaging a top priority, and are looking at the environmental impact of every material and component. Videojet Technologies offers a family of environmentally friendly data printing inks, which can be a key component of a brand’s sustainability goals. Offerings include ethanol-based inks, food-grade inks, fast dry high-performance acetone-based inks and water-blend inks. The line also includes inks with low/no VOCs that are compliant with CEPE regulations.

Y water connects with kids

Yes, another kids’ beverage brand, but Y Water is making a stand by launching in a clever, y-shaped bottle that can be reused as a toy: Rubber connectors called “yknots” are designed to let kids link or stack multiple bottles to make Lego-like creations. A biodegradable hang tag delivers product information for the low calorie vitamin-enriched organic drink in whimsical script and with child-like drawings. Y Water is currently rolling out at Whole Foods, where the yknot connectors will be available at customer service. Bottle design: Yves Behar, fuseproject ( Copolyester resin blend: Eastman Chemical Co. (

Bottle anchors Kraft dressing revival

New packaging is a key component of Kraft’s reinvented salad dressing line, which includes product reformulations across 50 existing dressings and the addition of five new olive oil-based flavors. The brand’s pyramid-shaped bottle has been replaced with a slimmer one, with pinched sidewalls that offer better ergonomics and a flip-top cap that provides ease of use. New clear labels employ refreshed graphics sparingly, to maximize the view of the dressing inside. The new bottle is said to have required the company to significantly rework its manufacturing lines.

Redesign tells heartland story

A line of natural crackers and multigrain chips, Sesmark has swapped its formerly generic identity with one that tells a “health from the heartland” story. The package redesign makes prominent use of sepia photography to represent the origins of the ingredients and to serve as a backdrop for an updated brand mark. The simplicity of the new package design is meant to convey a premium image and let the “heartland” ingredient origins shine at the same time. Package redesign: Wallace Church (