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For manufacturers, there are many changes in the marketplace influencing operations and future outlook. We’ve found that internally, there is often a primary focus on gaining greater production efficiency, while externally there’s a push for improved fulfillment and supply chain resilience. There’s also pressure from consumers and regulators towards sustainability.

This involves multiple aspects of manufacturing from materials to packaging, distribution and product end-of-life. Of these, packaging is a major factor. With waste volumes exceeding recycling capacity, there’s a need to reduce packaging materials to what’s only essential.

With these drivers towards efficiency and sustainability, manufacturers need to review their packaging strategy. Most turn to a packaging company to help them improve their packaging efficiency and sustainability options, but how can they know which packaging company is best for them?

In this article, we discuss five questions you can ask a corrugated container company to determine what solutions they have and if they’re a good fit for you.

1: How Can a Corrugated Container Company Help Our Company Become More Sustainable?

Achieving sustainability is becoming more and more necessary for manufacturers. A good starting point is to look at your packaging design and components. This can be done by conducting a review on existing packaging, looking at how it’s constructed and whether it fulfills its purpose. From there you look at what’s essential, and where improvements could be made.

When doing this, keep in mind the benefits that can be obtained. Increasingly consumers are choosing to buy products that align with sustainability values. This, along with the look and feel of the packaging contributes to a positive customer experience.

While sustainability and customer experience may be priorities, you can’t overlook packaging’s primary purpose – to preserve and protect the product. Any changes in packaging need to meet these requirements. This is where it’s valuable to have access to packaging expertise that understands the complexities and can advise on how to improve the packaging and align with sustainability goals.

2: What Sustainable Packaging Materials Do You Use, and How Are They Sourced?

Most modern product packaging is a combination of materials. This is one of the reasons it becomes hard to recycle. Currently, most recycling efforts concentrate on single elements like metal, plastic, paper, or glass. When a plastic film is added to a cardboard box, for example, it makes it harder to recycle. This is because the materials first need to be separated before they can be processed for recycling. 

For manufacturers looking to achieve sustainability it means rethinking their packaging design with the objective of simplifying it. Where possible, reduce custom packaging to a singular material like corrugated board that can be more easily recycled. Even better, consider if at the end of its life, the packaging can be composted as this eliminates residual waste from ending up in landfill. 

Consideration must also be given to how materials are sourced. Ideally, manufacturers should look for packaging companies that use recycled materials. The reason for this is that this makes use of materials already in circulation. This saves natural resources and reduces waste.

Bonus question: Where does York get their paper from?

We get a large amount of paper from Atlantic Packaging. It is 100% recycled!

3: What Certifications Do You Have? 

Be wary of a packaging company that does not have any valid certifications to show you. A corrugated container company that has sustainability as a core value should have several industry certifications to back this up. These may include:

  • Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) is a standard that certifies responsible and sustainable forestry practices. In terms of paper packaging, it means that products with this certification are sourced from forests that follow sustainable practices. Trees are not simply cut down to meet demand. There’s a process of regeneration and strong values of protecting water quality and biodiversity as part of sustainability efforts.

  • Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) also promotes sustainable forestry practices. They focus on promoting a collective effort where all stakeholders including governments and businesses are held to account.

  • True Zero Waste is a certification given to organizations that divert at least 90% of their waste from landfills. It proves that they are using resources responsibly and optimizing operations to reduce pollution and waste. These certifications are difficult to attain and something to aspire to.

  • British Retail Consortium (BRC) is a trade association for retail. Their global certifications relate primarily to food safety. They also have a strong focus on achieving circularity in retail packaging.

Fun Fact: York Container has many of these certifications and related associations!

4: How Do You Report on Packaging Operations & Sustainability Efforts?

With new regulations being implemented for manufacturers, there’s a requirement to gather data for reporting purposes. A major driving force behind this is the concept of EPR (End Producer Responsibility) which aims to hold manufacturers accountable for the volume and type of packaging and waste that they produce. 

A corrugated container company should be able to assist with this. At York Container, we’re able to report on the volumes of paper purchased, how much of that was recycled content, and how much was used to produce packaging.

5: Do You Use Automation to Improve Your Packaging Efficiency?

With costs top of mind any effort to improve efficiency is welcome. Packaging equipment automation is a big part of this. Automation also ensures that the packaging is produced in the most efficient manner.

There are several ways to achieve this. One is by connecting manufacturing stations with conveyor belts so that the packaging automatically gets moved from one station to the next. This has the added benefit of speeding up production which contributes to efficiency. 

Another way automation is used is in stacking systems. This is far more efficient and cost-effective than using manual labor to complete the task. Automation means that fewer people are required for menial tasks and can be focused elsewhere. This enables extended production capability while optimizing resources.

Your Next Steps in Choosing a Corrugated Container Company

While we have answered the most common questions asked by customers regarding packaging, you likely have more. To help you answer those questions, you can read about what to expect from a corrugated container company

Or, if you want to learn more about the packaging production process, you can watch this video of our Elgin production facility:

 

Who is York? York Container is part of the Atlantic Packaging Products family and has been a family-owned business that’s been in operation since 1954. We understand the importance of efficiency, sustainability, and getting your packaging right. 

Let us know how we can help you create the right packaging for your products.