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Sustainable Packaging Solution Helps Retailer Move Toward Plastic-Free Goal | E-Commerce | RRD

Recycle logo printed on paperboard packaging

RRD performs comprehensive analysis and research on alternative materials

CHALLENGE

Motivated to stand out as an aggressive leader in developing and using sustainable packaging, a large e-commerce company wanted to remove plastic from all of its packaging materials. As a very high-volume shipper, the company draws a lot of attention and scrutiny regarding its overall environmental footprint.

Neither internal resources nor existing suppliers had the capability to conduct the detailed research required to prove new, viable solutions. This dominant retailer needed a partner who could perform an in-depth exploration and analysis of sustainable alternatives to plastic packaging. 

SOLUTION

As experts in both material sustainability and market requirements, RRD’s Technical Research team was well versed in the viability and utilization of plastic-free alternatives. To help the client reach its aggressive sustainability goals, RRD developed four environmentally-friendly packaging solutions:

  • 100% curbside recyclable product wraps. RRD developed and tested product wraps made of recyclable paper that can replace plastic wrap while still providing product protection. This packaging replaces plastic and foam with paper so that the entire package can be recycled (in most cities). This solution is currently being user-tested.
  • A water-based alternative to plastic film lamination. RRD developed and ran tests on an aqueous coating solution as a replacement for film lamination on boxes. The result? A recyclable, plastic-free, scuff and crack-resistant exterior box surface. This solution makes packaging more recyclable and reduces the harmful effects of microplastics.
  • An increased percentage of recycled content in packaging materials. RRD researched and confirmed multiple materials, e.g., laminated kraft, clay-coated news backboard (CCNB), and clay-coated recycled board (CCRB). These alternatives — available in varying thicknesses and recyclability —  provide a higher percentage of recycled packaging content. RRD ensured the high quality of these materials through performance testing and printed physical samples. These new highly recyclable materials earned the company ESTAR and EPEAT environmental certifications.
  • Mineral oil-free inks. RRD China’s ink lab conducted tests on vegetable-based inks that have no mineral oil and comply with the 2022 French Circular Economy Act. Print quality and durability were proven to be equal to current inks, but with fewer VOCs. Testing for these inks is ongoing.