Published: April 29th, 2009
Sustainability 101: Beyond Recycling: Sustainability in a Material World
To address the needs of the pharmaceutical and medical device packaging industries, PMP News held an exclusive Webcast on sustainable packaging material and design. Peter Schmitt, managing director of Montesino Associates, led the Webcast with a discussion of how Quality-by-Design principles can encourage packaging engineers to develop packages that meet barrier and functionality needs yet tread a bit lighter on the Earth. Answering audience questions during the live session were Rich Hollander, senior director, packaging services, Pfizer, and Thomas Pack of Global Pharmaceutical Supply Group, Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals. Stay tuned for upcoming Webcasts on Overall Equipment Effectiveness, In-line Printing, Track and Trace, and the Cold Chain.
Schmitt addresses audience questions below. For more details, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
At our company, we would love to “go green,” but everything—raw materials, packaging, etc.—is so much more expensive. No one is making it easy for us to help the planet. Not everyone can afford to pay more for a product because it is environmentally friendly. What should we do?
Careful work will allow you to develop very competitive solutions. The message of the Webcast was to work on the design first. Select materials, containers, etc., that are designed to be both economical and sustainable.
Is there any system in use that can evaluate all sustainability factors together and compare two package designs to put a value comparison on the two formats for overall sustainability?
The Sustainable Packaging Coalition will be launching a tool called “Compass” sometime this quarter. Montesino believes this tool will begin to move toward such a comparison.
Can you comment on unit-of-use packaging with regard to wallet or blister cards? What do the retailers want versus the regulators?
Retailers are looking to eliminate packaging waste while the package travels through their channels (large bottles to small bottles, etc.). They also have space considerations. The wallet packet may address retailer needs and offers F=1 potential for child-resistance issues.
Can recycled plastics that carry an FDA LNO (Letter of Nonobjection) for food contact be used in contact with a medical device?
Montesino’s experience is that regulatory authorities continue to require virgin material in contact with a medical device. But there are details to review.
Which is better: starch-based packaging peanuts or peanuts made from recycled polystyrene?
The answer depends on the “grave” stage of the package. If the packaging will be composted, then starch-based peanuts will decompose. If land-filled, recycled polystyrene allows the soil to “breathe” and can be an advantage.
How far away do you feel the pharmaceutical industry is from using postconsumer waste in the primary packaging?
Quite far. Waste as a feed stream for primary packaging for pharmaceuticals does not fare well in the risk/rewards equation.
Why do you feel the producer will make the sustainable design decisions and not the channel? What influence will the channel selection have?
The producer of a pharmaceutical or medical device has a 360º look at sustainable life cycle, whereas the channel owner can only see its channel and not the 360º viewpoint.
Can you tell me the best place to look for “greener” materials to which I can switch my manufacturing? Is there a Web site that would give me a compiled list of information?
Please consult the following sites: