Sustainable Packaging

Sustainable Packaging Coalition / Lucy Pierce

July 01, 2022 Cory Connors Season 2 Episode 106
Sustainable Packaging
Sustainable Packaging Coalition / Lucy Pierce
Show Notes Transcript

https://greenblue.org/
https://greenblue.org/work/sustainable-packaging-coalition/
https://www.linkedin.com/in/lucy-pierce-20256563/

Educate / Collaborate / Action! 

SPC Engage , Montreal Canada July 20-21 , 2022 
https://dashboard.sustainablepackaging.org/events/9

Carbon is the North Star 

SPCinfo@greenblue.org 

https://ororapackagingsolutions.com/
Looking to improve the sustainability of your packaging today? Check out:
https://www.landsberg.com/
The views and opinions expressed on the "Sustainable Packaging with Cory Connors" podcast are solely those of the author and guests and should not be attributed to any other individual or entity. 

https://specright.com/ This podcast is an independent production and the podcast production is an original work of the author. All rights of ownership and reproduction are retained—copyright 2022.
https://www.amazon.com/dp/1329820053/ref=as_sl_pc_qf_sp_asin_til?tag=corygat

Cory Connors :

Welcome to sustainable packaging with Cory Connors today's guest is someone I'm very excited to speak with Lucy Pierce with the sustainable packaging coalition. Hey, Corey, how are you? Good. We're we're both. Northwesterners so I knew I liked you already excited about this conversation because the sustainable packaging coalition is, is making a lot of impact and connected to a lot of positive change. And that's what this show is all about. So can you tell us about yourself? How'd you get in? Great world of packaging.

Lucy Pierce:

Yeah, of course. So it's, it's kind of funny, but both of my grandfathers were in the packaging business. So I think it's in my blood somewhere. But I actually studied sustainability in school and then decided to pursue a master's degree in environmental studies out here in Washington state. And so I, I chose to focus my thesis research on the environmental impacts and social perceptions of bio-plastics and compostable plastics. So that kind of led me into exploring the packaging space. And so after I graduated, I attended a recycling development center meeting which is hosted ongoing and is hosted by the Washington department of ecology. And I had a former boss. Who's the director of sustainability at the evergreen state college who was invited to be on the board. And it was an open public meeting. He said, you should come along see what's happening. See what these folks are talking about. And it was there that I met our executive director at green-blue Nina Goodrich and sort of the rest is history. We got to chatting. I went through some interviews with green-blue and got hired as a project associate.

Cory Connors :

That's excellent. It's such a great organization. Tell us about so, so green blue is the overarching organization. The non-pro.

Lucy Pierce:

Yes. Yes. Yep. So green-blue is kind of like the umbrella we say.

Cory Connors :

Yeah. And then sustainable packaging coalition falls under that. Can you tell us about both as much as you can, like in a detailed.

Lucy Pierce:

Yeah. Yeah. So green-blue is an environmental nonprofit. And so it's, it's we say we're dedicated to the sustainable use of materials in society. So there. A multitude of projects that fall under green blue, and one of which is the sustainable packaging coalition. We have others like the how to recycle label, which is probably our most public facing project. Right. It's a label for consumers to read to help them recycle

Cory Connors :

their materials all the time.

Lucy Pierce:

Yup. Yup. So that's kind of our consumer facing project. We have a project around clean ingredients forest products. So green-blue is the umbrella. And then we have these more specific topic areas and projects under that. So the sustainable packaging coalition Is a membership-based organization. So, so members have we have member dues and that's sort of how we operate. And so we bring all of our members together and they're sort of like three keywords that we, that we focus on for our work is educate, collaborate, and action. So those are kind of our guiding principles. If you will. And our mission at the SPC is really to bring sustainable packaging stakeholders together to catalyze CA catalyze on actionable improvements and packaging systems and, and help provide folks with education and be a voice on issues related to all things, sustainable packaging.

Cory Connors :

It's quite an impressive group. I looked at the website and saw some of the members and was very impressed. A lot of those people are making great impact on sustainable packaging and really teaching others how it seems kind of like. I would akin it to a Tesla's open, open source for all of their information. I think that's kind of seems like what people are doing in the sustainable packaging world is, Hey, you guys should try this. It's working for us. And it's fun to see that. So definitely the collateral. Yeah.

Lucy Pierce:

Yeah. It's really important. For us to have as many open resources as possible to really share out there what kind of research and work we're doing and you know, help our members with all sorts of issues they're facing or challenges or opportunities, right. That we can see for more collaboration among. Companies. And so, yeah, definitely, really try to educate.

Cory Connors :

So how do people get involved? Can it, can, can somebody like me join as a, as an individual or is it as it companies or only for now?

Lucy Pierce:

Yeah. So for, for now SPC membership open to any company that demonstrates a interest in sustainability and packaging. We do recognize that individuals and ANGOs and other nonprofits, or like, Business associations, like also have interest in this. But we encourage those folks to attend our events or, you know, use our open resources, but we don't accept applications for membership for like individuals have to be a part of an organization.

Cory Connors :

Maybe sustainable packaging podcasts could be involved, something like that. Okay. We'll talk about it. So there's an event coming up in Canada. We were discussing before the show came on here. Can you tell the audience about that so that they can show up?

Lucy Pierce:

Of course. Yeah. So. As a part of our organization, we host a few events a year. And so we have this event, SPC engage which this year is taking place in Montreal on July 20th through 21st. And this this event, we really try to dig into a topic one kind of specific topic area. And so this time it will center around delivering sustainable packaging goals. And so we've got a lot of great workshops and a workbook that will be going along with the event to really help companies think about their sustainable packaging goals. And, and, you know, we're getting ever closer to 2025 where we have a lot of big goals set. And so how are we going to get over the hump and achieve those in the next couple of years? So. What this event is focused on.

Cory Connors :

It's really exciting. And I'm planning to be there with one of my partners and sponsors speck right there. They're making huge impact on people being able to actually meet their goals in sustainable packaging because they provide. A marker for where you are and then, and then you can look at alternatives and say, okay, this would get us to where we need to be. And so it's really, really an actionable system with that spec first approach on packaging.

Lucy Pierce:

Great. Yeah. Yeah, definitely sort of. It's really important to understand where you are and, and kind of lay out the steps of where to go next. And that can be a tricky part to figure out.

Cory Connors :

So you were telling me about your college thesis paper for, for your I'm fascinated to hear. What, what you found about biodegradable and compostable plastic. Can you give us a quick 30 second little, this is what we found or,

Lucy Pierce:

yeah, sure. Yeah. So one part of it was just sort of a big literature review around LCA. And other research on the environmental trade-offs of bio-plastics right. So things you know, like eutrophication and, and crop land space. And so there was that part, the environmental part, but I thought what was really the most interesting to me, which as a. As someone who maybe would have been an anthropologist in another life. But I think was I did a lot of interviews with with, with businesses who use compostable. Plastics like tableware, silverware cups to go cups, coffee shops, and small restaurants and things like that out here and, you know, we're in the Pacific Northwest, you said. And so there's sort of that stereotype, right? That we're all kind of crunchy granola, so we'll take it. So it was really interesting to talk with these business owners who were making the decision to purchase these. Packaging products that are generally a bit more expensive. And I've sort of asked them about, you know, what do they understand about how these products impact the environment? You know, are they sending them for industrial composting after they're done? Or are they just going sort of into the regular waste bin? And so I think you know, this is a few years ago, so maybe we've, we've evolved a little, but It was some folks were super interested. They understood all the compostable labeling and the certifications. They had really spent a lot of time researching it and others you know, sports spectrum. So others were sorta just like, well, my, the coffee shop down the street uses it. So I thought I should use it too. But then, you know, I think overall a lot of organizations have done a really great job on trying to educate folks like, you know, BPI on, on compostable labeling and, and sort of understanding the, the environmental trade-offs of those types of materials.

Cory Connors :

You mentioned LCA, which for the audience, if you're, if you're not familiar with lifecycle analysis and is critical to figuring out if something is sustainable or, or more sustainable than the other option. It's a, it's definitely the, the way of the future and the present really now with all the changes. But can you tell us about a fun project or something that you worked on while at the SPC that like this really? You felt like it made an impact, you know, anything kind of top of mind?

Lucy Pierce:

Yeah. I think what comes to mind? For the, for, in terms of the SPC projects would be our collaboratives. And so our collaboratives are a supply chain across the supply chain. Any members invited to participate in these groups and they focus on on a specific topic in sustainable packaging. And so I recently led one on what we called shipping liquids. And so. There's particular challenges around liquids in e-commerce and it's maybe not the most, like it doesn't. You don't immediately think of that as a sustainability issue, but if you have products that are being damaged or broken or spilling and leaking , there's, that's a wasted product and so that's wasted resources. And so we had a. A good group of folks who were trying to really understand this issue. And I had you know, I don't have a background in packaging design. I'm just a more general sustainability person. And so it was really interesting to hear from all these other groups and on work they're doing to sort of create e-commerce specific packaging for liquids to try to help solve this issue. Kind of a source point. Looking back at the basics,

Cory Connors :

that's a real challenge in packaging. I can guarantee that for, from years of working on shipping and trying to shift, you know, and making mistakes and figuring it out and shipping liquids is hard. And I think what, I'm the trend I like to see right now? Like a company I'd talked to this morning called dip dip already. They have concentrated products, like, like a shampoo bars and conditioner bars. And so these kinds of things eliminates water, right. You know, you're literally standing in the room that will produce water on you. Why do you need to, you know what I mean? It's like, it's like the ideal situation and I could definitely see that taken over the industry. What are your thoughts?

Lucy Pierce:

Yeah. I mean, we talked a bit about concentration as well in the group, and I think for certain products, especially personal care, it's a really great application and can really reduce the amount of packaging and has, has some great environmental benefits. So yeah, it's, you know, it's a little more challenging for. Some other categories, you know, for example, like cleaning, like house cleaning you know, you don't really want to concentrate bleach. So, so there's, you know, so we talked about, you know, sort of the, the applications that it could be really good for. And I think that's kind of the overall you know, key question is, is what application could this work for?

Cory Connors :

And safely, that's such a great point. Yeah. We don't want to be shipping toxic concentrates all around, but yeah, well said, good point. I hadn't thought about bleach, but there's so many cleaning products now that are little concentrated, you know balls of liquid or whatever, whatever it is, you know, powder. Yeah. And it's really cool to see that, but you're right. Some of it won't be able to, to be constant. Yeah. Yeah. So what what does the SPC recommend for companies that are trying to be more sustainable with their packaging?

Lucy Pierce:

Yeah. This is a big question, right? I, I think At the SBC, you know, we like to really think, you know Ninah said this once at an event and it really stuck with me and it's carbon is our north star. Right. So, I mean, if there's so many different sustainability areas to focus on, right? Like before packaging, Interested in heating and cooling in building efficiency. And so you know, to truly impact climate change, we're going to have to look much deeper into how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and you know, even to how are we going to pull carbon from the atmosphere? So really thinking about carbon kind of as a north star and how that will really impact climate change, I think is, is big for us. And I think a part of the SPC is really adding. We love to be in the gray area. We love to add nuance to the conversation. We love to help folks, you know, including ourselves think about challenges and opportunities holistically and in a systems systems thinking. Right. So There can be a time and place for a lot of different materials. And, you know, I think that's why we've created so many. But you've got like the, it can be tough to kind of balance like if you want to eliminate plastic packaging, you know, for example, as a, as a goal, as a company, But you also have carbon or greenhouse gas targets that you're trying to meet. So, you know, maybe you think about switching to glass, but it's heavier. And so it can create more emissions when transporting it. And so there's, there's a lot of layers to making decisions, sustainability decisions and packaging. And so.

Cory Connors :

Yeah, a lot of companies will, I've heard, I've heard this from many people said, oh, the CEO said we should eliminate plastic. Okay. Wait a second. Why? They think it's more sustainable. Oh, well then we have to change the glass. Oh, that's going to cost us a, you know, five more truckloads a year across the country, or 10 more containers from overseas. The lifecycle analysis has to be done to figure out, is it more sustainable? You know, plastics can be the most sustainable option. I think that's something that people need to understand. Of course, you want to look at mono materials as much as you can. Of course you want to minimize the packaging as much as you can make it as small as possible, without potentially breaking it because there's nothing sustainable about having to reship it again. Right. That's, that's something. A lot of times we're discussing on the show is, oh, it has to be safe. It has to get there without damage. Right.

Lucy Pierce:

That's why we invented packaging. Right. I mean, so

Cory Connors :

definitely. Yeah. Well said. So how do people get ahold of you guys to.

Lucy Pierce:

Yeah. The best way to reach out for general inquiries would be email and we've got a great communications team. Who's who's always working behind the scenes there in the emails. And so that would be SPC info at green-blue dot org and that's on our website. And you know, we're, we're on LinkedIn and Twitter, the social media person, if be like, let's see, what else are we on? Yeah, LinkedIn and Twitter are the big ones for us. So but yeah, SPC info at green-blue dot org is the best email to get in touch with us.

Cory Connors :

Well, thank you so much, Lucy. I'm really looking forward to hopefully seeing you in July and in Montreal, that'll be a really fun, fun show and a great event to spread the word about sustainable packaging. I'd like to thank Landsberg Orora for sponsoring this episode. And if you're listening, please make sure you subscribe. So you don't miss the next episode and give us a review. We appreciate it. Thank you, Lucy. Thank you so much,

Lucy Pierce:

Cory