As one of the country's largest packaging companies, Westrock, based in Atlanta, works to keep in touch with what consumers are demanding from packaging — and overwhelmingly, they want sustainability. Drug Store News spoke to Brandi Colander, chief sustainability officer at Westrock, about the shift toward sustainable packaging, how it works with companies to achieve their sustainability goals and how retailers can collaborate with manufacturers to deliver on consumer and supplier needs.
DSN: Is there a conflict between the need to be more efficient and the desire to be more sustainable?
BC: We don’t see these two imperatives as being in conflict at all. It’s actually the opposite – we’re seeing that retailers are investing in packaging solutions that deliver both efficiency and sustainability. For example, automated machinery like WestRock’s BoxSizer enables customers to produce right-sized e-commerce packaging on demand. It does this with folding, not cutting, so no material is wasted. Packaging that is right-sized, eliminates void fill, reduces dimensional weight – these are all solutions that inherently help retailers and brands create more efficiencies while also meeting their sustainability goals.
DSN: How can retailers play a stronger role in encouraging more progress in sustainability from their manufacturer suppliers?
BC: Sustainability is all about partnership. We can only advance the circular economy if we work together: brands, retailers, NGOs and packaging partners. Consumers want to make sustainable choices. It’s up to us to make that easy for them.
One thing retailers could do to encourage progress is to collaborate with brands to set goals and develop scorecards for sustainability. Retailers could also play a major role in helping to educate brands and consumers about the need for virgin fiber and the importance of sustainable forestry.
If we have a stake in the outcome, that sends a strong signal of commitment and inherent accountability. And if we invest in sustainable solutions together, we can reach our goals and do so at greater scale and with a far greater impact.