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John Bernardo of Sustainable Innovations offers additional pointers to packaging teams looking to start the new year with a stronger emphasis on sustainability and design.

An essential step is assembling the right team. Composition of the team is a bit different, depending on whether the issue is private-label or national brands. For a retailer drawing up a sustainability program for its own private-label brands, the director of corporate brands should lead the team. This person can guide the effort from a financial perspective. Other leaders, Bernardo says, should be the packaging director, who can oversee packaging consistency, and the marketing director, who can impart the advantages of the sustainability effort.

For a company operating a national brand, the sustainable-design effort works best in the hands of the category manager, Bernardo says. The category manager can specify a plan for all brands in the category. But the category manager needs to show senior management that savings are possible.

The category manager needs to move forward by working with operations. “I don’t think they’ll hear about sustainability from the top down,” Bernardo says.

Category managers also should be sure to respect the “other guy’s” turf. Senior management may not understand that sustainability means something to their customers,” Bernardo adds. “You need to say, ‘I’ve talked to the folks in marketing, and I think we can increase sales if we make these changes in the packaging.’” 

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