USA 920.574.3121
Canada 403.207.3226

Flair Packaging and Sustainable Packaging Options

Flair Flexible Packaging Corporation
2605 S. Lakeland Drive
Appleton, WI 54915
Telephone: 920.574.3121
Fax: 920.574.3122

With all the information available on the internet about sustainable packaging options, it is often difficult to determine what is feasible and what is not. Sustainable packaging options that are available for for one product might not work for another product and it is often difficult to sift through all the "green" information out there to determine what works best for what product. Perhaps the most important place to start is with the word sustainable itself. Sustainable is defined as capable of being maintained at a steady level without exhausting natural resources or causing ecological damage. With regards to packaging, not only does this include structures that may be recyclable or made from renewable resources, but it includes the energy inputs to create the package, to transport the package and to store the package. We create a few more points below to consider when discussing sustainable packaging options.

1. Regarding sustainability, we need to look at the three notorious "R's". Often people only think about the recycle option. But we also need to remember to "reduce" and "reuse". Many products are truly overpackaged. Bags and pouches are sometimes too big and gauges are sometimes to heavy. The main reason for a package is to protect the product. Package specifications need to achieve that goal and not much more if we are to attain our goal of sustainability. Reducing gauge and dimensions can decrease the amount of plastic entering landfills. With Flair's outstanding ability to rotogravure print graphics that sell, we can still achieve high level product branding and go about that in an environmentally responsible manner. Likewise, with the reuse portion of the three "R's", stand up pouches have provided a great enhancement. They are often made with reclosable zippers creating a reusable package and reducing the need to repackage.

2. Packages made from paper are not necessarily more sustainable than those made from plastic. In the U.S.A., the largest contributor to most landfills is paper and paper products. Today's landfills are mainly anaerobic because they are so tightly packed. Since organic substances degrade faster in aerobic conditions, any breakdown occurring in landfills today is mainly anaerobic and therefore very slow. Studies have shown that newspapers in landfills can sometimes be read 50 years later! It is a common misconception that paper/film laminations are more environmentally friendly than 100% plastic laminations. However, paper/film laminations are sometimes heavier than plain film laminations and the entire package stream needs to be considered when choosing a package that is the most environmentally friendly.

3. Flair can manufacture paper/film laminated packages. The paper can be rotogravure printed and even overcoated so that it does not smear or smudge. The film that the paper is laminated to can be selected so that it gives the needed properties (exygen barrier, etc) that the product requires. If a clear film is used, different shaped windows can be incorporated into the package for a unique look.

4. Flair has the capability to make bags and pouches from biodegradable and compostable films. Flair can reverse print PLA and other structures made from plant materials and laminate that to biodegradable films. Flair is also researching other methods to achieve a 100% compostable pouch or bag; however, the structure still must be considered to assure that it provides the appropriate level of barrier protection for the product. Labeling laws do exist and care is needed during graphic development to assure that labeling laws are not violated.