How to Cut your Costs And Make Your Package Greener

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I started reading this piece, Unilever Sees Green With Pared Down Color Palette in Ad Age, expecting to read about natural inks. Instead I found a discussion of more or less reducing use of spot color to reduce costs.

Using a color-harmonization program called Project Rainbow, Unilever is reducing the more than 100 hues it uses on its spreads and dressings packaging in Europe to six. Unilever’s hope is to save tens or eventually even hundreds of millions of dollars a year. By some estimates, the entire industry could save $5 billion annually if it follows suit.

Most entrepreneurs, starting out, unless they are in a fashion forward field stick to 4-color process for package printing, much easier and cheaper, but as green has gone gangbusters recently, many ecopreneurs have increased their use of spot color to make their packages stand out. OK, so I buy into this strategy of color reduction as a cost savings method.

But, then I read how this also qualifies as an eco improvement

There’s even a potential environmental benefit. Mr. Gilmore (Thomas Gilmore, director-brand strategy for the Cincinnati-based branding and design firm RGI), who founded the Sustainable CPG forum on LinkedIn, notes considerable reductions in waste from such consolidations. Cost savings and waste reduction come from buying inks on a greater scale, creating far less ink and packaging waste in the process of doing changeovers, and from producing final packaging because reduced complexity can improve quality and consistency, Mr. Hawkins said.

Ummm, yes, I guess that’s true, but then does this mean that every time I implement a cost savings program that incidentally reduces waste, I can claim it is green? This is the tricky spot where a company leaves themselves open to a greenwashing charge.

As ecopreneurs, we are peculiarly situated, as both treehuggers and businesspeople. For us, we realize immediately that a large percentage of waste reduction projects will be automatically eco friendly, but we are rarely accused of greenwashing. Why?

In general, I think we ecopreneurs are more sensitive to the charge. I think we differentiate between actions intended for green purposes, damn the cost and those that are purely cost savings gestures.

In this area of hypersensitivity to greenwashing, what should a company do? Is it reasonable to label every action that is eco friendly, whether by design or not as “green”? Do we risk being labeled as a greenwasher?

What do you think?

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