Abbott is in the process of launching more than 40 sustainable packaging initiatives across its nutrition, pharmaceutical and medical product businesses to help achieve its five percent reduction target in the amount of packaging used in key products by 2013.
The initiatives are focused on the increased use of lighter and sustainable materials in package design, which will reduce the company’s environmental footprint through less waste in landfills, more responsible forest management and fewer emissions, according to the company. In addition, it will lower cost and in some cases reduce shelf space, said the company.
Since 2007, Abbott has eliminated an estimated 2.88 million pounds of packaging on an annualized basis through reduction initiatives on a few select products, which is the equivalent to preventing 15,000 pounds of polystyrene foam into landfills, according to the company. In addition, Abbott reduced the amount of plastic used in infant formula containers by 15 percent in 2008.
As an example, Abbott Nutrition reduced the amount of plastic in its eight ounce re-closable bottles by 8.3 percent, cutting polypropylene plastic usage by 2.7 million pounds annually. The reduced-weight bottles also will help save 436,000 gallons of gasoline used for transportation per year, said the company.
Abbott also recently implemented a pilot program for shipment of some physician samples that require refrigeration. The reusable box, which replaces a larger single-use box, is smaller, made of reusable, recyclable and 100 percent organic-based materials, and can be used more than 100 times. Abbott is looking at ways to make this environmentally-friendly alternative comparable in cost to current packaging.
To develop new packaging initiatives, Abbott is partnering with a number of industry and independent groups in the area of sustainable packaging, such as the Sustainable Packaging Coalition, as well as suppliers that have achieved or are pursuing certification with sustainability organizations, such as the Program for the Endorsement of Forest Certification, the Forest Stewardship Council and the Sustainable Forestry Initiative.
The company also holds its suppliers to stringent packaging requirements.
In 2008, Abbott created an internal packaging design guideline document to facilitate improved sustainable packaging decisions throughout the design and development phase of packaging.