The Environmental Impact of Package Design

By Vince Rattini

Seemingly small changes can have outsize benefits when it comes to the sustainability of our products.

Take, for example, our Burt’s Bees® facial towelettes.

We make 11 different varieties of these popular products. We’ve got different scents and formulations as well as versions for international markets. All this adds up to hundreds of thousands of product units created every year.

And each of those has an environmental footprint over its lifecycle.

Looking for manufacturing efficiencies, a Clorox team recently found a way to significantly reduce the environmental impact of our facial towelettes through package design.

Take a look at what it did.

A flexible lens closure replaces a hard plastic door on Burt’s Bees facial towelette packages.

Replaced heavy plastic door with sticker-like lens closure

This seemingly simple change saves 108,000 lbs. from waste streams. That’s a big deal for the Burt’s Bees brand, and also for the overall Clorox sustainability goals.

It’s also brought efficiency gains to the manufacturing process.

Putting on that plastic door required its own, very slow, manufacturing step. With our new closure, our employees can make more products on our existing machines.

Universal display tray uses significantly less paperboard, streamlines manufacturing.

Designed a new, universal display tray

Again, a small adjustment has big impact.

Going from 11 different display trays, one for each variety of facial towelettes, down to one universal tray saves 90,000 lbs. of paperboard per year. And because the new tray doesn’t have a header, setting up the tray is now one step rather than four steps.

It’s also greatly simplified our supply chain.

On track to meet our 2020 sustainability goals

Both these changes will help us meet our 2020 goal to make sustainability improvements to 50 percent of our product portfolio. Between our 2011 baseline year and 2015, we had already made sustainability improvements to 31 percent of our portfolio.

(Read this letter from our CEO, Benno Dorer, about all our sustainability commitments. And this blog post outlines the progress our Burt’s Bees brand has made against its 2020 sustainability commitments. You can read the full Burt’s Bees 2020 Sustainability Goals Update here.)

Between the new packaging and new processes to make it, the towelette team has amplified its impact beyond raw material savings to include time savings, too.

Better still, it achieved all this without interrupting service to our customers during the manufacturing transition.

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