Are you going green enough? Lightweighting your packaging

Smithers Pira gives some insight on the benefits of lightweighting and lab simulation versus real-life test methodologies can make a world of difference in your efforts.

Over the past two decades, “lightweighting” has become a progressively popular approach to not only promoting environmental sustainability but also to cut costs. “Lightweighting” allows manufacturers to reduce their packaging costs by using less materials while at the same time reduce their carbon footprint. Ultimately, it’s a win-win for manufacturers. That is . . . if the package still performs at the same level as before.

Often times, sustainability efforts can be discouraged if the “lightweighted” packaging does not protect to the same standard as the original package. When sent through the supply chain, manufacturers will find that the new lightweighted package may become more susceptible to damage, resulting in increased costs due to replacements and rework. While conducting real-life stack tests prior to product launch can provide some assurance that the packaging will withstand typical environmental conditions, the results can often be misleading or not provide enough information to make decisions.

How can lightweighted bottles be assessed appropriately for damage? - a case study

When conducting an evaluation on their lightweight bottles, a beverage manufacturer was looking to determine the point at which a packaging failure occurred while being warehoused. In the past, the manufacturer conducted real-life, two-month stack tests during the summer months to analyze the durability of their bottles. However, with the winter approaching and a quickly approaching product launch date, the manufacturer decided to subcontract the testing to an independent lab.

The experts at Smithers Pira utilized a series of compression test protocols that combined both ASTM D642 Test Method for Determining Compressive Resistance of Shipping Containers, Components and Unit Loads and ASTM D4169 Standard Practice for Performance Testing of Shipping Containers and Systems.

After just two weeks of testing, Smithers engineers were able to collect data about the compressive resistance of the bottles and how it is affected by temperature. This helped them to accurately predict that the lightweighted bottles would maintain their integrity during a two-month stack period.

So, can lightweighting be considered a valuable sustainability initiative?

Ultimately, with any sustainability initiative, the success of the project can be determined by its’ efficiency. For lightweighted bottles, real-life stack can seem to be the simplest way to evaluate package integrity but if insufficient data leads to unpredicted damage in the field, remanufacturing the product can negate your efforts and also increase your costs. Introducing laboratory testing to your product development strategy can often be more efficient by providing a shorter testing period, faster time-to-market and reduction in unsellable goods.

Learn more about Smithers Pira’s solutions for lightweighting.

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