“Sustainable Packaging Logistics”. The link between Sustainability and Competitiveness in Supply Chains
2. Packaging and Sustainability
2.1. The Role of Packaging in the Deployment of Economic Sustainability
2.2. The Role of Packaging in the Deployment of Environmental Sustainability
2.3. The Role of Packaging in the Deployment of Social Sustainability
2.4. A New Approach to Integrated Packaging Design, “Sustainable Packaging Logistics”
3. Methodology for Empirical Research
- The increase in sales (economic sustainability).
- The reduction in costs (economic sustainability). Costs specifically mentioned were the costs of raw material/component procurement (including packaging purchases), product manufacturing costs (including packing costs) and logistic distribution costs (handling, storage and transport).
- The improvement in safety and the ease of use of products (social sustainability).
- The reduction of the environmental impact generated by the company and its supply chain (environmental sustainability). In practice, this would reduce resource consumption and the raw materials used, as well as reducing pollution and waste (including losses and product deterioration).
4.1. Design Requirements
4.2. The Organisational Structure for Packaging Design
4.3. Packaging Changes, Improvements and Innovations
- Dimensional changes. Resizing the packaging can contribute to reducing the material used and, consequently, the quantity of waste generated. On the other hand, it also facilitates the improvement of the product’s volumetric and subsequent logistical efficiency, making the packaging and packing processes more productive, as well as reducing deterioration and ensuring the packaging sufficiently protects the product.
- Material changes. These changes can contribute to simplifying the number of materials used (allowing for economies of scale), cheaper materials, or the use of more easily recyclable or recoverable materials.
- Change in the amount of product per packaging. The changes in the quantity of product per packaging can help reduce the consumption of materials and the generation of packaging waste. In this respect, family or economy size formats generally present a better logistical and environmental option.
- Change in packing process. Switching from a manual to an automatic process (or vice versa) can contribute to lowering production costs, as well as decreasing product rejection/deterioration, and resource consumption. Obviously, the introduction of new materials can also mean changes in the production process with associated costs and rejections.
- Change in the number of primary packaging per secondary packaging (and/or tertiary packaging). Redesigning the relationship between primary, secondary and tertiary packaging can contribute to improving logistic performance (handling, storage and transport), by rationalising the consumption of materials and waste generation.
- Materials Standardisation. Standardising the material types and characteristics in the packaging, facilitates procurement and supplying tasks for the packaging manufacturer, and contributes to obtaining economies of scale.
- Dimensional Standardisation. Complementary to the previous measure, dimensional standardisation in packaging formats contributes to simplifying the procurement process for packing companies, providing economies of scale when purchasing. It also benefits productivity by reducing set-up times in packing equipment.
- Aesthetic changes. A suitable design in terms of text, colour, iconography, material or shape can simplify the purchasing and recycling costs of packaging. It can also promote sales and consumption by communicating the attributes, and the product’s tangible and intangible features.
- Returnable packaging. The use of returnable packaging instead of single-use packaging can facilitate the reduction of overall logistics costs, including the reduction of purchase costs, resources consumption and waste generation.
- SRP (Shelf Ready Packaging). SRP consists of a group of primary packages in secondary or tertiary packaging that is ready for exhibition at the point of sale, facilitating consumer purchasing. It also facilitates the reduction of material costs, waste generation and logistical costs, particularly those associated with handling and product location at the point of sale.
- The commercial department would request packaging with size differentiation adapted to the Market, ensuring, moreover, a reduction in deterioration and breakages.
- The production department would want packaging that is standardised to a degree that enables a reduction in tool changes or set-ups on the manufacturing line in order to improve its speed and performance.
- At the same time, the purchasing department would request packaging that enables a reliable supply that meets needs at the most economical cost.
- The logistics department would require that packaging makes the most of volumes and weights in freight loads, which would ease storage, handling and transport.
- The quality and environmental department would need packaging that rationalised the consumption of resources and minimised waste generation.
- Furthermore, all the above departments would require that the packaging itself acted as the means for conveying both commercial and logistics information.
- Finally, to complicate the situation even further, in addition to the above needs, there are those coming from other companies on the chain, for example, the packaging manufacturers themselves, the packing and wrapping equipment suppliers, the suppliers of raw materials and components, third-party logistics companies, the retailers and the points of sale.
- The greater the role each different requirement has in the packaging design process, the better the sustainability performance.Thus, companies with better results have greater consideration in five of the nine packaging design requirements related to sustainable supply chain management. This appears to indicate a greater sensitivity in these companies towards a multifunctional view of packaging as a way to improve sustainability.
- The greater the coordination and internal collaboration on packaging design between departments, the better the sustainability performance.We have found positive differences between two groups. Companies with better results have promoted greater internal coordination in packaging design, in an organisational setting in the firms where the responsibilities for packaging design are shared out widely among the different departments.
- The greater the coordination and external collaboration between companies, the better the sustainability performance.We found this positive impact in the coordination and collaboration with packaging manufacturers, with raw materials suppliers and with retailers. Again, this situation could support the statement that companies that previously had better results have achieved a greater knowledge of the impact of certain packaging design decisions, searching for collaboration throughout the supply chain (upstream and downstream).
- Finally, the greater the predisposition towards change, improvement and innovation in packaging, the better the sustainability performance.Therefore, if companies understand the impact of certain packaging decisions internally and externally, it is possible to promote efficient and sustainable changes, improvements, and innovations based on packaging design. The only exceptions to this are the changes, improvements and innovations from a commercial point of view (“aesthetic changes”), given that we have not found significant differences between the two groups of companies.
Conflicts of Interest
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|Type of Requirement||Value||Group 1 (Best)||Group 2 (Worst)||Statistical Analysis|
|Commercial (differentiation capacity and product attractiveness)||Mean||4.714||4.514||Z statistic||−1.16129|
|Protective (ensuring adequate protection to avoid product loss or deterioration)||Mean||4.600||4.229||Z statistic||−1.52784|
|Productive (facilitating productivity and flexibility in packing processes)||Mean||4.029||3.343||Z statistic||−2.65289|
|Logistic (facilitating handling, storage and transport processes)||Mean||4.171||3.486||Z statistic||−2.70394|
|Packaging purchases (guaranteeing packaging purchases and supply)||Mean||4.200||3.486||Z statistic||−2.48891|
|Environmental (reducing raw material consumption and waste generation)||Mean||4.171||2.971||Z statistic||−3.82955|
|Ergonomic (facilitating product handling along the supply chain, including points of sale and consumers)||Mean||4.000||2.886||Z statistic||−3.81166|
|Legal (facilitating compliance with rules and regulations)||Mean||4.486||4.257||Z statistic||−0.64078|
|Communication (supplying useful and reliable information for companies and consumers)||Mean||4.171||3.886||Z statistic||−1.28871|
|Type of Coordination in Packaging Design||Value||Group 1 (Best)||Group 2 (Worst)||Statistical Analysis|
|Internal coordination in packaging design||Mean||4.200||3.543||Z statistic||−2.35692|
|Coordination with packaging suppliers||Mean||3.343||2.629||Z statistic||−2.43807|
|Coordination with other suppliers for promoting packaging improvements||Mean||3.419||2.179||Z statistic||−3.96039|
|Coordination with retailers||Mean||3.029||2.286||Z statistic||−2.66866|
|Type of Change/Innovation||Value||Group 1 (Best)||Group 2 (Worst)||Statistical Analysis|
|Dimensional changes||Mean||3.886 (2)||2.914 (2)||Z statistic||−2.887873|
|Material changes||Mean||3.314||2.500||Z statistic||−2.278312|
|The amount of product per packaging||Mean||3.400||2.706||Z statistic||−2.110407|
|Change in packing process||Mean||3.229||2.063||Z statistic||−3.313054|
|Number of primary packaging per secondary/tertiary packaging||Mean||3.429||2.618||Z statistic||−2.397032|
|Materials Standardisation||Mean||4.000 (1)||2.788 (3)||Z statistic||−3.245103|
|Dimensional Standardisation||Mean||3.853 (3)||2.758 (4)||Z statistic||−3.122268|
|Aesthetic changes||Mean||3.800 (4)||3.559 (1)||Z statistic||−0.871027|
|Returnable packaging||Mean||2.471||1.727||Z statistic||−2.673548|
|SRP (Shelf Ready Packaging)||Mean||3.138||1.760||Z statistic||−3.192769|
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García-Arca, J.; Garrido, A.T.G.-P.; Prado-Prado, J.C. “Sustainable Packaging Logistics”. The link between Sustainability and Competitiveness in Supply Chains. Sustainability 2017, 9, 1098. https://doi.org/10.3390/su9071098
García-Arca J, Garrido ATG-P, Prado-Prado JC. “Sustainable Packaging Logistics”. The link between Sustainability and Competitiveness in Supply Chains. Sustainability. 2017; 9(7):1098. https://doi.org/10.3390/su9071098Chicago/Turabian Style
García-Arca, Jesús, A. Trinidad González-Portela Garrido, and J. Carlos Prado-Prado. 2017. "“Sustainable Packaging Logistics”. The link between Sustainability and Competitiveness in Supply Chains" Sustainability 9, no. 7: 1098. https://doi.org/10.3390/su9071098