Metrics, metrics, and more metrics…52 in fact!

July 12, 2010

Happy Monday Funday! I hope everyone had a nice weekend and one full of relaxation!

As most industry-folk know, the Global Packaging Project released its “A Global Language for Packaging and Sustainability: A framework and a measurement system for our industry” a week ago-ish, which discusses, as the title implies, a global metric for assessing the sustainability of a given package or packaging system. Pack World’s/Greenerpackage.com’s Anne Marie Mohan provides a good summary of the project here with the report(s) available for download: http://www.greenerpackage.com/metrics_standards_and_lca/gpp_releases_global_framework_measurement_system_sustainability.

As Mohan explains, the GPP looks to create a GLOBAL metric for quantifying the “sustainability” of a package/packaging system. While the Walmart Scorecard and the SPC’s Metrics for Sustainable Packaging exist in isolation, this project looks to be the over-arching governance on sustainable packaging metrics, absorbing the work of both the SPC and Walmart. From what I believe, if a new metric wishes to be added to the Walmart Scorecard, it must first be presented to the GPP for consideration and validation.

For those of you unfamiliar with the concept of “sustainable packaging metrics,” a “metric” can be understood as an “attribute” that a given package or packaging system has in the context of the environment from a life cycle approach. For instance, packaging weight could be a metric taken into consideration when trying to quantify the environmental profile of a given package, as is the case with the SPC’s COMPASS packaging life cycle assessment modeling software and the Walmart Scorecard (packaging weight informs the energy required to transport the product/package throughout the supply chain and consequentially impacts GHG emissions, fossil fuel consumption, etc.)

Unlike the Scorecard and COMPASS, however, this global set of metrics takes into account social and economic indicators, in addition to the environmental ones; in my opinion, this integration makes the GPP’s approach to assessing packaging sustainability a much more holistic and therefore efficient tool than those currently in use.  

Taken together, the GPP proposes 52 metrics that need to be recognized in the discussion around issues pertaining to packaging and sustainability. 52, isn’t that wonderful!!!

And here are some of my favorites:

Environmental—chain of custody: This questions if the production/cultivation of the feedstock (cellulous vs. fossil fuel) is done so “sustainably.” Think Forest Stewardship Council…AWSOME!

Environmental—water used from stressed sources: This metric questions where the water comes from that facilitates the production/cultivation of the packaging feedstock. Check out the Global Water Tool, based on several independent sources, which provides a global water scarcity mapping function for the identification of production activities occurring in stressed or scarce watersheds:

http://www.wbcsd.org/templates/TemplateWBCSD5/layout.asp?type=p&MenuId=MTUxNQ&doOpen=1&ClickMenu=LeftMenu=LeftMenu

There’s this, too:

http://www.ifu.ethz.ch/staff/stpfiste/index_EN

Economic—packaged product wastage: this metric questions the value of packaged product lost due to packaging failure. I like this one because it is so simple; it reaffirms the number one function of packaging, which is, to protect the product. In a time when “smaller product to package ratio”, “material reduction” and “downgauging” has become, for the most part, our industries’ approach to “sustainability,” it is nice to be reminded of the necessity for excess…

Social—community investment: This metric questions the role a corporation plays in its community. Because Corporate Social Responsibility reports are so in vogue, it’s nice to see that such efforts will be quantified with this assessment, hopefully influencing purchasing decisions.

For the other 49 metrics, check out the report here:

http://globalpackaging.mycgforum.com/allfiles/TCGF_Packaging_Sustainability_Indicators__Metrics_Framework_1.0.pdf

Ok folks, that’s all I got for today. I am researching how to perform a waste audit so we can determine what type of composter would be the most appropriate for Dordan’s food and yard waste generation. Details to come!

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