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30 Sustainability Stories in Healthcare Packaging

In honor of Earth Month, we round up thirty stories of varying lengths and topics in life sciences and personal care packaging sustainability.

“The healthcare sector is both a significant contributor to the global planetary health crisis and uniquely burdened by it,” says Practice Greenhealth’s “Why Sustainability” page.
“The healthcare sector is both a significant contributor to the global planetary health crisis and uniquely burdened by it,” says Practice Greenhealth’s “Why Sustainability” page.

Sustainability means different things to different people. Packaging may get some unsavory headlines in the news, but in many cases, packaging materials—including plastics—are a life-saving and/or product-preserving necessity for patients.

There are many ways life science manufacturers and suppliers can cut down on detrimental environmental impact, including materials selection, reusable transport packaging, reducing water and energy consumption, cutting carbon emissions, and more. Here, we round up 30 stories with different ways the industry looks at sustainability.

1. Sustainability Still a Global Key Packaging Focus, Despite COVID-19

The packaging industry is in high gear as the pandemic enters year two, searching for innovative solutions to sustainable packaging and e-commerce design demands.

2. Q&A: Non-Profit Launches Sustainable Procurement Guide in Healthcare

11 Questions on how a non-profit organization is guiding healthcare purchasing decisions and what manufacturers need to know.

3. Subscription D2C Supplement Brand Makes Sustainable Impression at Unboxing

Fatty UnboxingAn exploded view of the Fatty 15 starter kit demonstrates the use of corrugated inserts to safely handle a glass bottle through the many-touchpoint e-comm channel in a compact format without extra space or the need for dunnage.

A new-to-science fatty acid supplement promises to improve longevity. Seraphina Therapeutics created a sustainability-minded D2C packaging and unboxing experience to align with and amplify the discovery.

4. ‘Bacteria Cocktail’ Could Add Sustainability to Plastic Packaging

A Hungarian company called Poliloop has found a way to ‘eat’ single-use plastic pollution.

5. Compressed Air Measurement Helps Reduce Energy Use

Installing Festo’s E2M energy efficiency modules helped medical device and pharmaceutical manufacturers tackle their environmental footprint, not only saving money but using the data to provide predictive maintenance as well.


6. Dove’s Sleek New Refillable Deodorant Pack

The global health and beauty brand launches new deodorant packaging that is circular by design, with a reusable stainless-steel case that can be refilled with deodorant sticks. 

7. Innovations in Reuse - a Sustainable Solution

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation estimates that reuse is a $10 billion+ opportunity that can significantly reduce the environmental impact of single use packaging waste.

Materials selection

8. Selecting Lidding for Recyclable Medical Trays

A lid and tray are recyclable—in different waste streams? Why pairing top and bottom webs in the same recycling stream may be more efficient.

Tekni Plex Peel BackA PX medical tray and a 52 pound paper lid are both recyclable, but would require two waste collection containers and processing methods. Alternatively, an HDPE tray with a Tyvek lid would be collected in the same waste receptacle and processed by the recycler in the same waste stream.

9. Colgate: Packaging’s Day Has Come

Colgate-Palmolive has made sustainable packaging a key priority. From recyclable toothpaste tubes to aluminum bottles for mouthwash, they’re locked in on eliminating plastic waste and delighting consumers.

10. Home Compostable Bags for Zero-Waste Beauty Brand

As part of its holistic strategy to ‘stir up a clean + conscious change,’ D2C superfood beauty company LOLI uses less than 0.5% plastic in its packaging, opting instead for glass jars, paperboard, and compostable courier bags.

11. New UK Initiative to Develop the Next Generation of Sustainable Composite Materials

A new initiative brings together the UK’s composites expertise to quickly turn research breakthroughs into industrial applications. 

12. Alliance of Leading Health Care Stakeholders Adds New Members in Effort to Reduce Prescribing Label Waste

Projects annual savings of 4,800,000 Trees - 900 million pounds of paper waste. For more, WATCH: Video: Making Prescribing Information Environmentally Sustainable

13. Recycling Device Packaging in the Operating Room

Two healthcare veterans discussed how recycling fits (or doesn’t) into their fast-paced OR operations at the Nurses’ Panel at HealthPack.

Company goals

14. Top Five Functional Machine Improvements for Sustainable Packaging Operations

Packaging methods and machinery must not be overlooked as vital components to a sustainable packaging strategy.

15. Voice of the Packaging Industry: Sustainable Packaging

Sixty CPGs were interviewed for a new sustainability report by PMMI Business Intelligence. They had much to say about machines, materials, new formats and sustainable initiatives, as well as what they need from suppliers.

16. Climate Change Interest Isn’t Ideology, It’s Economics

Economics is the new driver of climate change initiatives. As reported in the peer-reviewed article, The Importance of Climate Risks for Institutional Investors, researchers found in a survey of 439 investment professionals that only 7% of institutional investors said they had done nothing to manage climate risks in the last five years.

Truck ShippingWillingness to diversify fuel use can become a competitive advantage for a business.

17. Facing Global Climate Crisis, 5 Logistics Questions to Ask

Companies shipping products, whether temperature-controlled or not, must start evaluating alternative energy sources sooner rather than later. Could this offer a competitive advantage?

18. New Survey Reports the Sustainability Movement Has Gathered Momentum in Temperature Control Packaging

As customer demands for sustainable systems continue, the survey results show that pharmaceutical temperature control packaging providers are complying.

19. Four Reasons Reusable Packaging Is the Best Prescription for Pharma

The Inner Loop–blog of the Reusable Packaging Association–releases its latest article on reusable packaging in the pharmaceutical industry and how COVID-19 has affected it.

 Chemical recycling

20. Advances in Chemical Recycling Cut Plastic Waste

With growing pressure from regulatory and consumer sectors, Südpack is increasingly focused on chemical recycling of plastic waste and developing high-tech packaging films from the recovered raw materials.

Product news (by no means an exhaustive list)

21. Packaging Technology Group (PTG): Dual Temp Thermal Packaging in TRUEtemp Naturals® Cellulose Line

This sustainable shipper from PTG is a thermal system that allows medications and therapies with different temperature requirements to travel together in the same container.

22. Pelican BioThermal Wins Air Cargo Sustainability Award

The International Air Cargo Association recognizes environmental, social, and economic impact of Crēdo family of reusable packaging.

23. Lifoam Industries Awarded Multiple Patents for Manufacturing of a Bio-based Alternative to EPS Packaging

24. Hoffman Neopac: Recyclable Mono-Material Packaging System for Existing PE Streams

High-density polyethylene caps pair with polyethylene tubes to create Neopac’s recyclable PE-based tubes with flip-top caps.

25. Verde Technologies: Drug Deactivation Pouches

Deterra Pouches use organic activated carbon to deactivate leftover medication; are safe to place in household trash after deactivation.

26. New Variations in Flexible Mono-Material Packaging

PAXXUS, Inc. introduced additional variations of single-stream recycle-ready flexible materials.

From the archives

27. Study: Flexible Healthcare Packaging Materials Can Be Recycled

The recent HPRC assessment had some promising results for multi-material plastics from hospitals. The experts talk strategy and four important recycle-ready questions to ask yourself.

28. Hospital Takes Aim at Plastic Recycling

Can the healthcare industry really recycle? One hospital’s journey is showing that with concerted effort, it is possible. But it requires stakeholder cooperation.

29. Healthcare Industry Cannot Ignore Environmental Impact

Recycling or reusing medical devices? It’s coming. A presentation at Pharmapack highlighted green guides and carbon footprint opportunities.

Listen to article   Listen to this podcast at 15:00 for news on recyclable ocean plastics

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