Web-based knowledge exchange GreenerPackage.com now offers the industry’s first and only searchable database of sustainable packaging materials—the Greener Package Product Database. Unveiled in May, the database encompasses both raw and converted materials and is rich with detailed product information from the sustainable packaging industry’s leading suppliers.
The Greener Package Product Database has been meticulously developed by GreenerPackage.com and ECRM, the technology provider for Walmart Stores’ Sustainable Packaging Scorecard Modeling Software, to equip users with the most thorough information on both packaging performance and sustainability characteristics available. To submit their product information, suppliers must complete a standardized questionnaire that asks 27 detailed questions on packaging performance and 12 on sustainability. The database replaces ECRM’s Marketgate Web site, becoming the central portal through which suppliers must enter their data for inclusion in Walmart’s Scorecard Modeling Software.
"Quite frankly, there is no other database on the Web like this,” says Dave Newcorn, vice president of e-Media for GreenerPackage.com parent company Summit Publishing. “All of the data points are very, very specific to packaging materials. This also represents the first time that packaging suppliers can make sustainability claims, and we have found a way to normalize those claims or standardize how they are represented to the industry.”
Through a voluntary, third-party review process, suppliers can have their sustainability claims validated against the Greener Package Guidelines to Sustainability Claims. The review, designed to root out greenwash, provides “an apples-to-apples comparison of materials and sustainability claims,” Newcorn relates. Only those suppliers whose claims have been reviewed will be included in Walmart’s Modeling Software.
Raw and converted materials are separated
Also unique to the database is the ability to search either by raw materials or by converted packaging—“a nuance that is often lost in typical databases,” Newcorn says. “So, if you are a converter, and you make paperboard folding cartons, you will be able to quickly find raw material suppliers that will sell you the unprinted board. As an end-user packager, you can find converters that will sell you folding cartons.” In addition, searchable sustainability criteria run the gamut, from source through end-of-life characteristics.
Users can also search for company information within the database. Each supplier submitting data receives its own, dedicated page, with company details, including company size and revenue; complete product listings; and manufacturing plant information. Deep links allow users to contact the company directly and view specific materials on the supplier’s Web site.
The database has been under development since April 2008, with suppliers beginning to upload their data in fall 2009. Currently, the database contains more than 44 listings on raw materials and 186 listings on converted products, from 178 suppliers. According to Newcorn, 20% of the raw materials and 10% of the converted products have been third party-reviewed.
For its fifth annual Sustainable Packaging Exposition, held in Rogers, AR, earlier this month, Walmart required all potential exhibitors to enter their product information into the Greener Package Product Database before they were granted invitations to the event. According to Newcorn, GreenerPackage.com is in talks with at least one other major U.S. retailer about developing a program around the database to encourage its suppliers to enter product data for third-party review. For a limited time, the database is free both for those wishing to upload their product data and for those using the search features.