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SPC Protective Packaging Challenge

Nominations now open!




Protective packaging is critical to ensure the safe and secure transport of goods. However, there are trade-offs in terms of environmental and economic performance. Protective packaging should prevent damage to the product during transport, while also performing well across a range of other sustainability criteria, however this type of packaging does not often perform well in terms of both performance and broader sustainability.

Reflecting the primary need to protect the product, oftentimes protective packaging relies on excessive quantity of material  or use of bulky material, use of material that is not easily recyclable, or use of material that comes from unsustainable sources, which creates negative environmental impacts. The use of protective packaging is growing with the rise of e-commerce, amplifying these challenges. More now than ever, end consumers directly see protective packaging and often feel inconvenienced when products are damaged, or when they must dispose of packaging material. Novel protective packaging solutions are needed that perform optimally across a robust set of considerations.


This Challenge is open to start-ups, individual or university entrepreneurs and invites them to submit their innovations in protective packaging materials and systems that embody excellence in the following sustainable packaging pillars:

  • Overall life cycle environmental impacts of the package or package system
    • Responsible sourcing, such as the use of recycled materials or responsibly sourced, renewable materials
    • Optimized and efficient use of materials
    • Recoverability: e.g. Recyclability, reusability or compostability.  Note–  Compostable packaging is best suited for specific, targeted applications. Applications using compostable packaging should be explained and justified
  • Market feasibility, including cost and performance in product protection across different product types (e.g. electronics, liquids, hard goods)

Maximum points will be awarded to innovations that perform well across multiple sustainable packaging pillars.


We will only consider applicants at the stage where they have at least prototypes in market testing-phase.


A group of up to five finalists will be selected to attend SPC Impact 2020 where they will present on the main stage in front of a large audience of 600 + brands and packaging suppliers.

      All finalists will receive:

  • The opportunity to present on the main stage at SPC Impact 2020 during a dedicated showcase to SPC’s member audience of over 350 brands and packaging suppliers as well as invited impact investors
  • Complimentary tickets to attend all of SPC Impact, a value of $1,750 per ticket (limit of 2 per team)
  • Expenses to attend SPC Impact,  including travel expenses for up to $750  per person and per diem towards additional expenses for 3 days  (limit of 2 people per team)
  • Printed signage onsite at SPC Impact
  • Networking opportunities
  • Feedback from the Challenge judges,  partners and advisors
  • A trophy and photoshoot following the Showcase event at SPC Impact
  • Featured communications in SPC newsletters, website and social media with two dedicated press releases
  • Featured communications  by SPC’s Challenge Partners

     Three finalists will receive 

  • 1 year of SPC membership, a value of  $2,750
  • Video production and media amplification of videos through social media by Ubuntoo (See example here)
  • A dedicated public webinar following the Challenge co-hosted by SPC and project partners
  •  Possibility to participate in Rise of the Ecopreneur podcast interview with Ubuntoo

 

 

 

FAQs

 

 

Protective Packaging Design Challenge 2020

  • Note: the SPC may adjust the submission title for brevity, clarity, and/or consistency among submissions.
  • (please provide a summary and overview of your solution, including concept, technical overview and impact metrics)
  • Drop files here or
    (please provide any supporting information on your innovation, such as: prototype sketches, testing results, pilot project information, environmental impact assessment and other research and materials)
  • Drop files here or
    Please provide at least one high resolution picture or graphic that depicts your submission

The criteria the judges will use to determine finalists includes a point system that considers the following areas. (content to be finalized)

Environmental impacts 

  1. Responsible sourcing, such as the use of recycled materials or responsibly sourced, renewable materials
  2. Optimized and efficient use of materials
  3. Recoverability: e.g. Recyclability, reusability or compostability.  Note –  Compostable packaging is best suited for specific, targeted applications. Applications using compostable packaging should be explained and justified
  4. Extra points awarded if more than one environmental category is addressed with this innovation

Market feasibility 

  • Cost and scalability 
  • Performance in product protection across different product types (e.g. electronics, liquids, hard goods
  • Submissions will be required to meet a minimum score in this category to advance to the finalist stage 

Subjective criteria 

  • Innovative ‘wow’ factor, for example: Appeal to end user companies, marketability or powerful storytelling,  other factors on a case by case basis 

Judges each get a vote to determine the finalists who will attend SPC Impact 2020. They represent a key group of sustainable packaging experts from the SPC, investment experts from Closed Loop Partners, and additional experts in protective packaging and entreprenuership  from Academia.

Nina Goodrich is Director of the Sustainable Packaging Coalition and Executive Director of GreenBlue. GreenBlue is a nonprofit that provides science and resources to make business more sustainable. It is dedicated to help industry: use materials wisely, promote material health and recover more.

Nina came to GreenBlue with an industry and consultancy background in R & D management, innovation and sustainability strategy. Nina believes that innovation and sustainability are linked as key drivers for our future. Nina has worked to develop a value proposition for sustainability and to share it with all who will listen.

Nina has held leadership positions in Sustainability and R & D with Alcan Packaging, Amcor, The Guelph Food Technology Center and Magic Pantry Foods.

She has done graduate work in technology management and holds a BA in Molecular Biology from Wellesley College in Massachusetts. Regarded as a thought leader in the field, Nina speaks and writes frequently on the convergence of sustainability, innovation, and technology.


Adam Gendell is the Associate Director of GreenBlue’s flagship project, the Sustainable Packaging Coalition. Adam‘s work with the packaging value chain touches on goal-setting, design considerations, and stakeholder engagement. Adam has developed and delivered training seminars for hundreds of packaging professionals, including the Coalition’s Fall conference SPC Advance.

Since joining GreenBlue in 2010 he has brought together stakeholder groups to lead work on topics ranging from life-cycle-oriented design to substantiation data for FTC-compliant recyclability claims. Most recently, Adam spearheaded a collaboration between packaging trade associations, recycling-focused NGOs, and government agencies to conduct a robust nationwide study on consumer access to recycling systems.He coordinates several Industry Leadership Committees and is a frequent speaker and writer on sustainability topics. In 2013 Adam served on the PAC NEXT Leadership Council.


Danielle Joseph is responsible for managing Closed Loop Ventures – an investment fund focused on early stage innovations in the circular economy. Prior to Closed Loop Partners, Danielle worked on project finance activities with Invex Infraestructura and Queensland Investment Corporation. Prior to this, she worked with NewWorld on a range of growth equity and project finance related activities across environmental opportunities, including clean energy, energy efficiency, waste-to-value, water resources and reclamation, and environmental services. Danielle earned her MBA from Stanford Graduate School of Business where she led the GSB Impact Fund, an early stage investing platform for impact-driven companies.  Danielle earned her BA from Pomona College.


Dr. Mark Sanders mentors cleantech companies across the portfolio and serves as the Director for Circular Economy. In this role, he mentors and advises portfolio companies, facilitates academic entrepreneurship programs, and works globally to cultivate relationships and foster a network of circular economy technology advocates.  Prior to joining ATI, Mark worked at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory where he worked to commercialize new innovations developed at U.S. Department of Energy national laboratories.  Mark was the founder of a company that developed and employed novel environmental technologies and methods; the company was subsequently acquired by a national firm.  He earned a PhD in Building Energy and Environment from the University of Texas at Austin and an MBA in innovation and entrepreneurship from Babson College.


Dr. Jay Singh received his MS and PhD in Packaging Science from Michigan State University. Considered amongst the top experts in the field of distribution packaging globally, Jay has published over 95 peer-reviewed articles, 73 articles in conference proceedings, 32 trade journal articles, 3 book chapters, coauthored 2 books and edited 1 book. A number of his publications have resulted in development/modification of numerous globally acknowledged packaging test standards. Several of his research efforts have led to innovative packaging designs that have been implemented in the field. His expertise includes teaching, training, testing services and contract research in package design, distribution environment measurement and simulation, material and package testing, package design, product-package compatibility and LCA. Jay currently serves as the President of International Association of Packaging Research Institutes (IAPRI) and is a past Director on ISTA’s Global Board. Having undertaken numerous funded grants from state, federal agencies and industry as well as currently holding four patents, Jay was recognized with the Distinguished Scholarship Award in 2017 by Cal Poly.

Advisors represent the end users of protective packaging from key sectors. They play a key role in this challenge by providing guidance to submitting entrepreneurs on what end users are looking for in protective packaging innovations. Below, you can find key input from our advisors on their main priorities and considerations for protective packaging performance, economics and sustainability that challenge submissions should address. This information should be used as a reference for submitters to consider. 

In addition, advisors also provide feedback on submissions during the review phase to the Challenge Judges. They provide important feedback on how much they like the submission, in terms of their key priorities, as defined here. 

Josh Samples is a Manager at Packaging Lab in Customer Packaging Experience at Amazon. Since graduating from Ohio State with a degree in Logistics in 2008, I’ve spent the better part of the last decade focused on fulfillment solutions to reduce waste. I spent my first 5 years out of school focused on Warehouse Management Systems and was a consultant for Manhattan Associates, one of the world’s leading WMS providers. After implementing Manhattan WMS at Starbucks, I switched over to more broadly focused supply chain savings initiatives that spanned packaging, logistics, and seasonal promotions. In 2014 I left Starbucks for Amazon to join the Ops Integration team, with a focus on customer experience in Heavy/Bulky products, which is what lead me to the packaging team. Since joining the packaging team, I have focused on damage prevention and took over our Packaging Lab in Q2 2018.

1. Describe your pain points in protective packaging. What types of products do you use it for and what are your main challenges in safely and sustainably protecting these products in your supply chain and creating a good experience for customers?
There are so many Amazon customers and so many different products. It is difficult to create consistent rules for brand-owners to create packaging when not all products or customers are created equal.

2. What are your main priorities and interests for protective packaging sustainability that challenge submissions should address? (i.e. recyclable solutions, reusable systems, recovery systems, lightweight solutions, exciting new formats and materials)
Scale and simplicity. Our packers have only seconds to interact with a pack design and can only have a handful of designs at their station. How do we find simple solutions that scale to many products.

3.What roadblocks have you faced in implementing more sustainable protective packaging solutions in your organization?
Cost versus scale.
There are many great ideas floating around for innovative packaging solutions, but very few that can scale to Amazon’s needs without coming at an extreme cost.


Jennifer Gootman is the Vice President of Social Innovation at West Elm, where she oversees the brand’s commitments to local and global makers, Fair Trade, and sustainability. Jennifer also serves as the Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility for West Elm’s parent company, Williams Sonoma, Inc., leading social labor compliance and programming across the company’s eight brands. Prior to West Elm, Jennifer spent more than a decade working with non-profits and social enterprises in New York, Nicaragua and India, working within design-driven industries to create social impact through supply chain innovation. She has been invited to present her work at the Aspen Institute, United Nations, Fast Company Innovation Festival, Columbia Business School Social Enterprise Conference and Fair Trade Federation Conference and serves on the board of Chicago-based ethical fashion company Mata Traders and as an advisor to NYU Stern’s Center for Sustainable Business.

1. Describe your pain points in protective packaging. What types of products do you use it for and what are your main challenges in safely and sustainably protecting these products in your supply chain and creating a good experience for customers?
Our products range from decorative accessories, to tabletop ceramics, to lighting to furniture so we have a large range. Many of these items have unique geometry that is likely to change from season to season. Protecting these products during small parcel transit such as UPS without using petroleum-based materials is the biggest challenge.

2. What are your main priorities and interests for protective packaging sustainability that challenge submissions should address? (i.e. recyclable solutions, reusable systems, recovery systems, lightweight solutions, exciting new formats and materials)
Our main goal is to design packaging that can be easily serviced at the customer’s home. This translates into home compostable or curbside recyclable materials. Additionally we are interested in new formats and materials, reusable systems, and lightweight. We’ve come across many innovations that are in pilot phase or available in limited geographies, but we need solutions that are scalable and globally available.

3. What roadblocks have you faced in implementing more sustainable protective packaging solutions in your organization?
One challenge is finding alternatives to EPS/EPE foam and PE polybags for product cushioning and abrasion/dirt prevention that have the same protective properties and are as widely available in those materials. While PCR materials and compostable materials are easily sourced in the European and North American markets, they can be difficult in Southern, Southeast, and East Asia.


Cassandra Fuhrmann is the Director of Private Brand Services at Lowes where she oversees the packaging production of 22 private brands across 350 product groups and 400 product suppliers. With nearly two decades in the technology, aerospace and retail industries, Cassandra has managedinternational production teams in support of multiple Fortune 50 companies.

Cassandra has implemented shared-service work models for the NA, EMEA, and APJ markets to support sustainability, cost efficiency, and speed to market. With a keen eye for streamlined workflows, process improvements and sustainable practices, she has saved tens of millions in production and material costs over the course of her career. Cassandra seeks sustainable solutions that not only appeal to consumers but are also feasible across hundreds of manufacturers with no impact to speed-to-market.

1. Describe your pain points in protective packaging. What types of products do you use it for and what are your main challenges in safely and sustainably protecting these products in your supply chain and creating a good experience for customers?
Lowe’s Senior Packaging Engineer, Curtis Henquinet, and I know the challenges of protective packaging all too well. All Lowe’s product is required to meet ISTA 1A/1B standards to withstand the product distribution process. With hundreds of product groups across our stores — including toilets, vanities, lighting and ceiling fans — Lowe’s requires a substantial amount of protective packaging. Of course, these currently include inner packing of bulky, non-sustainable foam that negatively impact the supply chain, environment, and customer experience.Packaging development time constraints and limited access to inexpensive, biodegradable materials continue to cause missed opportunities by our product vendors in providing sustainable, right-sized packaging. In addition, “Due to our varied product assortment and supply chains, our test methods are not specific to any one shipping method,” Henquinet adds. “This means our testing may be overly stringent or not stringent enough.” This limits our ability to minimize the packaging footprint in many cases.

2. What are your main priorities and interests for protective packaging sustainability that challenge submissions should address? (i.e. recyclable solutions, reusable systems, recovery systems, lightweight solutions, exciting new formats and materials)
The Lowe’s Private Brand team seeks all of the above. We want to employ every sustainable solution possible for the betterment of our environment. Lowe’s headquarters is situated near the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains. We love nature and sustainability and packaging efficiency is top of mind on a daily basis.Our customers also expect sustainable packaging solutions. Product Development Trend Senior Analyst, Liz Rui, is passionate about Lowe’s millennial customers and acts as our in-house voice of the customer. As the largest living generation, millennials are also the most committed to implementing sustainable goals. Their tastes and preferences support our effort in creating more environment-friendly solutions.The Lowe’s Private Brands packaging team supports hundreds of product groups produced by hundreds of international vendors. We seek adaptable solutions that can be used around the globe — and challenge submissions should as well. The least amount of packaging to protect the product throughout the supply chain is optimal.

3. What roadblocks have you faced in implementing more sustainable protective packaging solutions in your organization?
Speed to market is our biggest challenge. We aim to find the right product at the best cost for our Lowe’s customers — and when we find that product, we move quickly to get it into our stores. While cost-effective products satisfy many of our customers on the front end, the cost to the environment, in turn, isn’t so satisfying. As brand owners, we must constantly strive to increase awareness and accessibility of sustainable product packaging earlier in the supply chain to increase recycling and right-sizing opportunities.


Suzanne Fisher, Head of Packaging Innovation at Wayfair


Erin Hiatt is the Senior Director of Sustainability & Innovation at the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA), the US trade association for retailers that have earned leadership status by virtue of their sales volume, innovation or aspiration. She manages the association’s environmental and social sustainability committee portfolio and supports its Retail Innovation Center (RIC) and Diversity & Inclusion Leaders Council, helping retailers benchmark and advance their programs in these areas.

1. Describe your members’ pain points in protective packaging. What are the retail industry’s main challenges in safely and sustainably protecting products in their supply chains and creating a good experience for customers?
As the leading retailers in the U.S., RILA members’ main challenge is finding scalable solutions that satisfy all their needs. They need scalable packaging that (1) provides excellent product protection, (2) is made of sustainable materials/has a sustainable end of life, (2) can be procured at a competitive cost, (4) is easy to move through the supply chain, and (5) provides a seamless user experience for the customer. Right now it is hard to check all of those boxes for an industry with such extensive operations and product offerings, which is why this challenge is so important.

2. In general, what are retailers’ main priorities and interests for protective packaging sustainability that you believe challenge submissions should address? (i.e. in addition to preventing damage: recyclable solutions, reusable systems, recovery systems, lightweight solutions, exciting new formats and materials)
A main priority for retailers is navigating which of the more sustainable solutions is the “best” one. Lifecycle assessments are incredibly important, but because our customers are so core to this conversation (particularly as ecommerce grows), an essential element is end of life/use once packaging enter a home. If our average customers aren’t able to easily properly handle end of life or end of use steps once they’re done with primary and secondary packaging, there is still room for improvement regardless of all other considerations. This is why practical curbside recyclability had driven a lot of decisions to date.It will be important for submitters to consider what packaging has garnered the most widespread customer attention because that’s where retail organizational leadership buy-in is strongest in the short term. We absolutely need radical ideas, but to work for retail they need to be empathetic to the customer and the industry’s core business functions.

3. What roadblocks have the retail industry faced in implementing more sustainable protective packaging solutions at scale?
Unsurprisingly, the persistent challenges in recycling markets and the patchwork availability of certain recycling, composting, etc. services across the U.S. inherently inhibits scalability. Another roadblock, as mentioned before, is deciding between sustainability tradeoffs. Retailers know they can’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good as they continuously improve the sustainability performance of their packaging, but they have be to able to explain the decision they reach in an accessible way.Packaging performance is often also the strongest factor behind resistanceto change. Once a product is damaged, you’re impacting retail’s core promise to its customers and often nullifying the sustainability gains from the packaging switch. It’s non-negotiable.


Robert Guerrieri Jr. is a Market Development Manager for Dow’s Packaging & Specialty Packaging Business.  In this role, he manages Dow’s North American (NA) strategy to supply resin technology into protective packaging which includes air pillows, foams, and air bubbles. He is also the e-commerce focal point for the NA packaging marketing group.  He is responsible for identifying key trends in the segment, and developing a pipeline of new resin technologies to meet current and future needs in protective packaging.  Additionally, Robert is creating and managing partnerships at key brands, e-retailers, and machine manufactures to drive insights and technologies across the value chain.  Prior to this marketing role, Robert served as a Dow Account Manager servicing direct customer relationships across a number of market segments including Food & Specialty Packaging, Pipe, and Industrial Packaging.

1. Describe your pain points in protective packaging. What are the packaging manufacturing industry’s main challenges in developing protective packaging that safely and sustainably protects products in complex supply chains and creates a good experience for customers?
There are two key issues that face protective packaging, especially in e-commerce.  The first challenge is trying to balance providing robust protection with right weighting.  With so many products of varying shapes, sizes, and durability going through warehouses and distribution networks, it is difficult to know the best way to package and protect every product.  In addition, brands, retailers, and 3PL’s are looking for ways to avoid placing a very small product in a very large box with layers of protective components leading to consumer “wrap rage”.  We need to continually reevaluate new secondary and tertiary formats that can provide as much protection as possible with the most optimized amount of material.  Secondly, as more shipments get unpacked in the consumer’s living room vs. the back of the store, we need to ensure consumers can simply and sustainably disposal of all packaging included in their delivery.  Protective packaging materials need to clearly state to the consumer how they are to be disposed, and those disposal options should ideally include curbside or front of the store recycling channels.

2. In general, what are the packaging manufacturing industry’s main priorities and interests for protective packaging sustainability that you believe challenge submissions should address? (i.e. in addition to preventing damage: recyclable solutions, reusable systems, recovery systems, lightweight solutions, exciting new formats and materials)
First, submissions should address how the new protective packaging format or concept has a smaller footprint and environmental impact across the whole Life Cycle Analysis versus what is currently being employed.  Second, the submission should be able to outline what the end of life options are for the packaging and how it will be communicated to consumers, so that action is actually taken during disposal.  Third, the package must be able to incorporate the first two points without sacrificing its ability to protect the product being shipped.  If the new package provides less protection and increases damage, returns and re-shipments will have a large impact environmental that may outweigh any sustainable modifications made to the packaging.  Lastly, a challenging but creative benefit is protective packaging that considers how it can be used in alternate applications once it has served its purpose in delivery such as a storage box that can be neatly displayed in the consumer’s home and serve another purpose.

3. What roadblocks have the packaging manufacturing industry faced in implementing more sustainable protective packaging solutions at scale?
Within the past two years, many firms within the packaging value chain have released sustainability goals aimed at increasing incorporation of recycled materials into their packaging.  One challenge the industry faces is having the supply availability of recycled material to source the growing demand in the market.  As an industry, we need to protect the viability of current recycle streams like those at the front of the store but also grow them to keep up with the growing demand for these materials.  To do this, the industry must drive education at the consumer level so they can clearly understand the means they have available to recycle packaging today and the impact their actions have on creating circular economies.  Secondly, new technologies need to be created to enable increased incorporation of recycled materials into packaging.  When recycled materials are integrated into packaging, the performance of the structure may be negatively impacted.  R&D at the polymer level all the way down to the packaging design needs to be completed to account for this change.  In the case of protective packaging, the design must ensure that the blocking, bracing, or cushioning performance does not suffer when recycled material is introduced, due to the high environmental cost of damaged products and returns.

 

 

 

What is protective packaging?

Protective packaging is any packaging unit that provides protection to goods during handling, storage, and transportation. The term includes all business-to-business packaging and consumer-facing packaging in both traditional retail and e-commerce channels. In general, protective packaging refers to secondary or tertiary packaging used to transport products, as opposed to primary packaging that more often serves for containment versus protection. However, there may be exceptions.

Some key terms:

  • Primary Packaging contains the product unit. In traditional retail, this type of packaging is what the customer selects from the store shelf and takes home with them and serves more as containment rather than protection.
  • Secondary Packaging contains one or more primary packages for use during transport and storage. Conventional examples include bags, envelopes, and boxes.
  • Tertiary Packaging is used to group secondary packaging together to aid handling, unitization, and transportation to distribution and retail outlets, often providing the function of flat unit load support in transport. Conventional examples include pallets and skids, slip sheets or trays.
  • Dunnage – Interior dunnage in secondary packaging can reduce friction and contact between the primary packs during transport, providing additional protection.  Conventional examples include airbags, foams, paper systems, or product separators.  Tertiary packaging can also use exterior dunnage to reduce friction between units and support load stabilization during transport. Conventional examples include stretch wrap, strapping, protective covers, or other cushions placed in between secondary units.

What are the main challenges with protective packaging sustainability?

Damage prevention: In transport, every “touchpoint” increases risks of product damage and so packaging plays a central role in protecting the product on its journey through the supply chain.

Replacing damaged products tends to account for a much higher greenhouse gas emissions and resource usage than does packaging itself. Damage prevention also reduces unnecessary extra shipments due to returns and replacements. Working across the value chain to ensure damage prevention at these different levels helps bring products safely to market.

Material efficiency: The emphasis placed on product protection can lead to overpacking products, such as using unnecessary amounts of dunnage materials. More and more, consumers are perceiving excessive packaging firsthand through e-commerce packaging deliveries to their home. This can negatively impact companies’ reputations, particularly when the material is not recyclable or reusable. Sustainable protective packages should aim to find that ‘sweet spot’ between protection and material reduction. To this end, companies must understand their damage rates and invest in continuous improvement and material optimization for their packaging.

Volumetric efficiency:  Lack of customizable boxing options can also lead to over boxing and inefficient use of space where excess air is being transported. Efficient box and container space allow for more product to be shipped in a single load while reducing greenhouse gas emissions from unnecessary extra shipping and weight. Open communication between brands, suppliers, manufacturers and distributors helps to facilitate this system-wide optimization which also reduces costs of shipping.

Responsible material sourcing and end of life: While volume and weight optimization are central sustainability considerations for transport packaging, it is also important to consider sourcing and end of life. Materials with favorable characteristics from the sourcing perspective include responsibly sourced renewable resources and recycled materials. From an end of life perspective, favorable packaging is those that are reusable, recyclable (with access to collection and an end market), or compostable (where access to composting exists).


Who will see the information I submit?

All information provided will be reviewed by SPC and Ubuntoo. Shortlisted submissions will be reviewed by Challenge judges and advisors. Participants should exercise judgment when submitting confidential and/or sensitive intellectual property in their submission. No submitted information will be made publicly visible or shared with other Challenge participants.


Can I request an NDA?

We ask that participants only submit information needed to evaluate their innovation. If confidential information is necessary to evaluate the innovation, either during the initial submission or after submission during the evaluation period, then participants may request to enter non-disclosure agreements (NDA).


Are my intellectual property rights safe?

All information participants choose to submit to the Challenge remains their own IP and there are no requirements or conditions to transfer this knowledge to the SPC, Partners, or other third parties. As stated in the Terms and Conditions, ‘each participant will retain intellectual property ownership—including rights, trademarks, service marks and/or logos—of all of his, her, or its Challenge submission ideas, including, but not limited to, methods, materials, technologies, and other know-how related to the Challenge criteria and technical overview.’ Any further steps between the participating entrepreneurs and companies involved would require a separate agreement between the companies individually.”


How will finalists be selected?

Finalists will be selected by Challenge Judges, with input from Challenge Advisors, and Partners. Submissions will be assessed against:

  • Responsible sourcing, such as the use of recycled materials or responsibly sourced, renewable materials
  • Optimized and efficient use of materials
  • Recoverability: e.g. Recyclability, reusability or compostability (please note –  Compostable packaging is best suited for specific, targeted applications; applications using compostable packaging should be explained and justified)
  • Overall life cycle environmental impacts of the package or package system
  • Market feasibility, including cost and performance in product protection across different product types (e.g. electronics, liquids, hard goods)

Maximum points will be awarded to innovations that perform well across multiple assessment categories. For more information, please see the Challenge scoring criteria on the main page of the website.


Who is the Sustainable Packaging Coalition?

The Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC) is a membership-based collaborative led by an independent non-profit that believes in the power of industry to make packaging more sustainable. Using an objective, life-cycle based approach, the SPC works in a constructive atmosphere to provide thought leadership and bring SPC members together to strengthen and advance the business case for more sustainable packaging.


Who is Ubuntoo?

Ubuntoo is an Environmental Solutions Platform to address the UN SDGs, starting with solutions to plastic waste. It is like an Airbnb for sustainability innovation. You can very easily search, follow and connect with solutions and their founders. Or you can use our forum section to tap into the crowd expertise of members. The Ubuntoo platform hosts more than 600 solutions to plastic pollution and boasts a community of 1,500 professionals: innovators, academicians, experts at corporations and research institutions.


Who is Closed Loop Partners?

Closed Loop Partners is an investment firm focused on building the circular economy. They are reimagining the current linear system, in which billions of dollars are spent annually to landfill valuable commodities, to create circular supply chains that reduce costs, generate revenue, and protect our environment. Investors include many of the world’s largest consumer goods companies and family offices interested in investments that provide strong financial returns and tangible social impact.


Who can I contact to learn more?

Email inquiries can be directed to spcinfo@greenblue.org. Please note that the Sustainable Packaging Coalition will not respond to participant phone inquiries or requests for phone calls due to the high volume of requests. Please thoroughly review the Challenge FAQ, Terms and Conditions, and other Challenge communications before submitting an inquiry.

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