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Sustainable packaging at BIC: an extension of guidelines that have long been observed

Christian Keator is area manager-packaging engineering at BIC USA. He describes here how BIC is dealing with today’s new emphasis on sustainable packaging. As it turns out, sustainability has always been a corporate objective at BIC.
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FILED IN:  Sustainability  > Strategy
     

PW: How would you describe BIC’s approach to sustainable packaging?

Keator: BIC has a comprehensive sustainable development program for all its operations throughout the world. We’ve focused on sustainable packaging for years as part of BIC’s commitment to reducing both cost and the impact of packaging on the environment. Focusing on innovative packaging, maximizing cube efficiency, and minimizing the cost of packaging materials are important objectives for BIC.

PW: What’s changed then?

Keator: Sustainability is now more prominent on everyone’s radar screen. Today, sustainability is a true collaboration among the consumer products manufacturer, retailer customer, and packaging materials supplier. All three are working toward the same objective and arriving at the best solution. Early in the process, in the design phase, BIC looks at shelf impact, color and shape, and package optimization. Our goal is to boost sales through the packaging we design, but at the same time we’re seeking to create the most cost-efficient and sustainable package as possible.

PW: Have there been any organizational changes driven by the recent popularity of sustainable packaging?

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Keator: About two years ago, BIC created a “Packaging Ecodesign Guide” that is followed by all packaging designers and engineers throughout the Group. It lists guiding principles for each stage of packaging development—from package design and material selection to manufacture and assembly of packaging and end of life cycle. The Guide is critical to the launching of a new product, which is a team effort. If everyone on the team understands our sustainable packaging goals up front, it clarifies decisions and results in the best package design.

PW: Is this a profound change at BIC?

Keator: To some extent, the Packaging Ecodesign Guide evolved from practices we’ve always implemented in packaging development here at BIC. We’ve now formalized these ideas in a Guide that can be easily shared with other departments and new employees. It gives everyone a better understanding of what we mean when we talk about sustainable packaging. Packaging designers and engineers can see more clearly that by accomplishing some of our goals and objectives, BIC can have a positive impact on the environment.

PW: So the notion of a Triple Bottom Line—Social, Economic, Environmental— is a philosophy that BIC adheres to?

Keator: Yes, for packaging and every operation across the BIC Group.

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