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Product Brief May 12, 2009
FILED IN: Sustainability  > Strategy

Abbott develops sustainable packaging guidelines

Healthcare company revises product features and designs to limit the adverse environmental effects from manufacturing through disposal.

In 2008, Abbott Laboratories developed new packaging guidelines to help packaging and purchasing professionals make more sustainable choices. A sustainable packaging team, representing all company areas, drives its efforts. The global healthcare company's initial goal is to reduce by 5% the amount of packaging used in key products by 2013.

The Abbott Park, IL-based company's approach begins with designing packaging that uses less material. It also looks for opportunities to purchase corrugated packing materials from certified sustainable sources. Abbott's guidelines call for careful management in the use of such materials as polyvinyl chloride, which has become a matter of concern in recent years. “We are committed to reducing its use, where possible, in our packaging,” says the report.

“Abbott works with a number of industry and independent groups in the area of sustainable packaging, including the Sustainable Packaging Coalition and the European Organization for Packaging and the Environment (EUROPEN). We also engage with major retail customers like Walmart, sharing information on the packaging reductions we have achieved in our consumer products,” the report continues.

One example, as exemplified in the accompanying photo, is Abbott Nutrition's 2008 reduction of the amount of plastic in its 8-oz reclosable bottles by 8.3%. Through better design, the company cut plastic usage by 2.7 million lb. “The reduced-weight bottles help save 436,000 gallons of gasoline used for transportation per year,” notes Abbott's report. For more information, visit

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