Packaging has received a substantial amount of attention in most discussions about sustainability initiatives in distribution centers.
Now, Orbis Corp., a major manufacturer of reusable packaging, has introduced a life cycle assessment initiative designed to allow companies to measure and compare the environmental impact of different packaging.
The initiative makes use of life cycle assessment methodology developed by Franklin Associates, a Kansas City-based specialist in life cycle services and solid waste management. The reports developed through the process will also provide suggestions for increased sustainability. Orbis will analyze information provided by customers that will compare past practices with planned implementations or those under consideration. The company says it will allow customers to measure the environmental impact of adopting reusable packaging in particular applications. The report will evaluate energy use as well as the solid waste and greenhouse gases produced for different packaging options.
Bob Klimko, director of marketing and sustainability for Orbis, said that while most decisions on using reusable packaging are based on economic factors such as reduction of labor and material costs, customers are now frequently asking about how packaging decisions can affect their environmental initiatives. He said the goal was to provide customers with data to help them make decisions, even if it shows that reusable packaging does not make economic and environmental sense—for instance for long-haul, infrequent one-way shipments. "We're saying, here's the information based on your data to help in your decision-making process," he said.