A recent report by the Dogwood Alliance, an environmental group, has come up with 8 steps that can help companies move toward more sustainable packaging. The eight steps include:

1. Embrace corporate leadership on sustainability: Adopt an environmental packaging policy and get buy-in from leadership.

2. Use a full life cycle and supply chain approach: Determine the complete scope of impacts from packaging along the entire supply chain.

3. Reduce overall packaging and increase efficiency: Minimize packaging, make it lighter.

4. Increase use of recycled fiber

5. Eliminate paper from controversial forestry practices (with this step, Dogwood Alliance wades into the ongoing debate on sustainable forestry, urging companies should use only paper certified by the Forest Stewardship Council and avoid paper certified by the Sustainable Forestry Initiative.)

6. Increase in-store recycling and recovery: Provide recycling within restaurants and encourage recycling when customers take packaging away.

7. Eliminate toxic inks and labels.

8 Reduce carbon footprint: Make transportation more efficient through better shipping setups and fuel-efficient vehicles.

These eight steps are aligned with our class notes about how to make packaging more sustainable. The concepts of reducing, reusing, and recycling are embedded in the fundamentals of these steps. Dogwood Alliance also addresses the toxins that are found on labels, which can be detrimental to the environment as well.

McDonald’s and Starbucks have earned high praise from Dogwood Alliance for their attempts to make their packaging more sustainable. McDonald’s has reduced the paper in its napkins by 21% and have announced a new environmental initiative. The company is launching a program to get rid of polystyrene cups. Polystyrene is not commonly recycled and the foam particles break up into small pieces that can be dispersed. They are often carried into our oceans where animals perceive them as food! (See last post) Over the last decade, McDonalds has also eliminated more than 300 million pounds of packaging! These are great steps for sustainable practices within the company. Starbucks has set out a goal to provide only reusable and recyclable cups by 2015.

These major companies are taking responsibility for their waste production and are setting a great example for other companies to follow!