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Change is coming from the top with some of the world’s largest manufacturers making initiatives and encouraging their customers and other businesses alike to be more mindful with their choices. In most cases, making the push to reduce waste has not only reduced negative environmental effects, but also increased profits. If you’re looking for some sustainability inspiration, find out more about the packaging operations of these four companies that have achieved or are working towards establishing operations that send zero waste to the landfill.
It’s been over a decade since Subaru began its strong focus on becoming a leader in green manufacturing. Being the first auto assembly plant in North America to reach zero landfill in 2004, Subaru stays true to its long-term sustainability initiatives and is also willing to share how 100% of manufacturing waste is recycled or turned into electricity. Employees of Subaru are encouraged to submit new ideas, often resulting in awards, and everything is meticulously tracked from lunch food scraps to packaging.
Only allowing reusable packaging from suppliers has saved tons of material from entering the waste stream as well as saving millions of dollars. Other examples of packaging savings include Styrofoam being used multiple times for various parts and the amount of cardboard packaging for parts has also been reduced by boxes only having partial tops. This also increased efficiencies and safety in the plant by eliminating the need to cut open a box. In fact, Subaru has been so successful at reducing waste, the National Parks Conservation Association has partnered with the automaker to help with initiatives to recycle trash from parks and preserves.
Think about this... the next time you toss a Starbucks coffee cup into the trash, you’ve just sent more to a landfill than Subaru has in the last 14 years!
Procter & Gamble has achieved zero waste status in more than 80% of their facilities around the world but are working on new innovations to fully achieve zero waste to landfill in the remaining facilities. As stated in P&G's Ambition 2030, the company plans to build on its current environmental goals, one main area of focus being packaging. The new goal is for 100% of packaging to be recyclable or reusable and for no P&G packaging to find its way to the ocean. This will be done by new package designs and using more sustainable materials. This builds upon the company’s 2020 goals to reduce packaging by 20% per consumer use and doubling the use of recycled resin in plastic packaging.
Examples of packaging design changes implemented over the past years are messaging on products educating consumers on how to recycle, partnering with TerraCycle to collect waste, and adding removable shrink sleeves to certain products to improve recyclability.
IKEA shares our more from less values throughout its “circular design” process. This means making sustainability commitments throughout a product’s entire life cycle from design, to delivery, to end life. The company as a whole aims to become zero waste by 2030 as its UK facility achieved zero waste status for the first time in 2016.
Designing for distribution from the start can have a huge impact on sustainability and cost savings. The “we hate air” mantra for IKEA’s packaging engineering views makes sense. Eliminating dead space in packaging allows for more boxes to fit onto trucks and reduces costs associated with transport. By producing savings through packaging optimization, IKEA in turn reduces product costs for its customers.
Innovative ideas for packaging reusage can also be seen in IKEA products, such as recycling cardboard for use in the backboards of the popular bookshelves and even using stretch film to make desk pads .
In 2015, the world’s biggest food company achieved zero waste at all of its US factories and now continues to work on its sustainability initiatives at other global facilities until all zero waste goals are met. The company credits its success to new technologies and continuous improvement practices with the help of employee engagement and new partnerships with vendors.
Packaging is obviously a crucial component for protecting foods and preventing food waste. Nestlé recently announced its ambition to make 100% of its packaging recyclable by 2025. Packaging optimization has already eliminated 200,000+ pounds of packaging from being used over the last few years and have now put a strong focus on reducing plastic waste. New goals will be to eliminate non-recyclable plastics, encourage the use of plastics that typically have better recycling rates and eliminate or change complex combinations of packaging materials.
While these top companies are setting a strong example that zero waste is possible, it may not be feasible for your operations, but we’ve learned even the smallest changes can make a huge difference. Our team is passionate about showing manufacturers ways to Package With Less… less cost, less waste, less labor, and less damage. Contact us to learn more about how we can better your packaging operations, creating more from less.