I interviewed Paul Tasner who discussed sustainable packaging. Paul has been involved in supply chain operations for most of his career. He has managed practically every link in the supply chain, with most of his experience in manufacturing, packaging and procurement. His work has been both formal employment with companies large and small, including Clorox company as well as in consulting. Paul has worked for dozens of companies large and small in many sectors, including food, beverage, pharmaceuticals, electronics etc. His experience has been both broad and deep.
What is sustainable packaging?
The word ‘sustainable’ is over used today. Generally, I believe it means packaging that does more good than harm. It is packaging that will not be a burden on our planet or for future generations, as opposed to the packaging that continues to be such a burden on the environment.
Why is sustainable packaging important for supply chains?
There are many supply chains that don’t consider sustainable packaging to be a compelling opportunity for them. These are supply chains that are extremely bottom line focused. In many cases the sustainable packaging choice is not the economical choice. There may be a cost difference. It is obviously pennies, but pennies are important to many companies. They don’t consider sustainable packaging to be an important factor in their supply chains. In fact, many companies see the cost barriers as an issue.
I think that sustainable packaging is important to supply chains because sustainable packaging is important to our planet. Our supply chains are important disciplines within companies, companies that are part of our planet. I think it is a growing case and is becoming a more compelling case.
Walmart has shown that the sustainable packaging choice is the economical choice. They have billions of dollars, units, miles, tons etc. behind them. Any choice they make can quickly become the economical choice. But for many companies it is not the economical choice just yet. The more volume we get behind sustainability in packaging, the more it will become the economical choice. We certainly haven’t reached that point for everyone who wants to make a sustainable packaging choice.
How can supply chains become more sustainable through packaging?
There is enough information for anyone in supply chain and procurement to feature and highlight sustainable packaging choices. If you are in the business of putting items in boxes, it is fairly easy to find those suppliers that offer packaging composed of recycled content, waste material etc. It is not hard to find with the use of the Internet.
There are sustainable choices available, or at least relatively better choices. If you are compelled to use plastic, there are opportunities to investigate bio-plastics. If you are still forced to look at petroleum based plastics, there are all different grades of petroleum based plastics which are more recyclable and that are less toxic than others.There are a lot of choices to be made. The information is readily available. It is a matter of economics for most companies.
Paul is passionate about sustainability and he thinks we are a long way from seeing sustainability “where everyone turns”. Economics are at the heart of the decision for many companies. It important to keep pressing forward. As the volume grows the economics will shift and it will be easier for companies to make that right choice.
About Paul Tasner
Paul is a senior executive with 35 years of experience in all facets of supply chain management. Paul has held leadership positions in procurement, manufacturing, and logistics in ventures ranging from start-up to Fortune 100, including The Clorox Company, Method Products, Hepagen Vaccines, Two Degrees Food, and the California Closet Company. His career focus has been on supply chain sustainability, strategic sourcing, and establishing reliable third-party infrastructures. In 2008, Paul founded and continues to lead the San Francisco Bay Area Green Supply Chain. Paul has authored many papers and presentations on supply chain sustainability and currently lectures on this timely topic in the MBA Program at San Francisco State University.
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