In 2011, several big companies—including Coca-Cola, Kellogg and Dow Chemical— banded together to start the American Institute for Packaging and the Environment (AMERIPEN), an organization that lobbies for evaluating the impact of packaging on the environment and reducing its toll.
“The primary function of packaging is to protect products,” said Joan Pierce, executive director of AMERIPEN, which is based in Wakefield, MA. “As formulations and products become sensitive to their environmental conditions, such as temperature, humidity and light, packaging may be designed to protect the product from those conditions. Packaging helps all products, including natural products, optimize environmental performance by providing protection from the hazards of the supply chain. Packaging extends shelf life and allows products to maintain freshness through their intended use.”
An effective package that optimizes environmental performance has generally been designed using Life Cycle Analysis (LCA). The entire value chain must be assessed in a holistic manner, according to the organization. From raw materials to post consumer use and material recovery, each element of the overall process can have a significant impact on the environmental performance of the product and packaging system, said Pierce. “A responsible package optimizes and considers the impacts on land, water, air, energy, biodiversity and natural resources, while maintaining the necessary functions for which the package is intended.”For more information, visit www.ameripen.org.