Development of sustainable packaging tool to help SMEs

As part of its commitment to creating a sustainable future and business growth within the county, SUSTAIN Lincolnshire is currently developing a web-based sustainable packaging assessment tool to help small-to-medium sized enterprises create ‘greener’ packaging as a way of maintaining a competitive edge.

Leicestershire-based firm, Eco3 Design, have been commissioned to deliver a pilot project for the development of the tool, which is being designed to measure and report on packaging in terms of weight, volume, recycled content, carbon footprint and other criteria. The tool will also allow for the comparison of packaging alternatives to show how slight changes in materials and weight might effect certain sustainability parameters.

Leigh Holloway of Eco3 Design, says: “Over the years, sustainability has gone from being seen as a fringe activity to become a mainstream business concern, Policy makers, legislators and companies across the supply chain are all making it part of their mission to reduce the environmental impact of packaging.

“Because of this, many companies are having to measure and report on the environmental performance of their packaging. Some companies are even taking a more proactive approach by using packaging assessments at the design phase, which can offer an opportunity to reduce costs in their supply chains while also reinforcing their corporate social responsibility activities and brand image.

“However, we’ve found that due to a lack of skills and experience in this subject, smaller companies within Lincolnshire are finding it difficult to undertake these assessments. This affects their competitive edge, putting them at risk of losing business to competitors. As a result, SUSTAIN has commissioned Eco3 to undertake the development of a free packaging assessment tool that will help to address the skills gap.”

Tentatively set to be ready for testing towards the end of September 2014, the tool will be available for use by companies in Lincolnshire, free of charge, once completed and will be deliver results in non-specialist language so that they can be easily communicated to a range of stakeholders.

As part of the project, SUSTAIN Lincolnshire is looking for companies to take part in the project’s pilot phase. Those selected will receive free in-house training on sustainability in packaging and will be given access to, and training in the use of, the pilot tool.

Councillor Colin Davie, Executive Member for Economic Development at LCC, says: “The development of this new packaging tool achieves everything SUSTAIN was created to do – increase competitive edge, reduce operating costs and lower carbon footprints among the county’s SMEs.

“Once completed, this tool will be on offer to county businesses signed on to SUSTAIN as a way of putting them on the same level with larger firms that have access to comprehensive systems for assessing packaging.”

For more information about the sustainable packaging assessment tool or to become one of the companies involved in the tool’s pilot, email leigh@eco3.co.uk.