Screening life-cycle assessment tool for packaging design
COMPASS (Comparative Packaging Assessment) is a streamlined life cycle assessment (LCA) tool for rapid package design optimization using industry data and internationally accepted environmental performance indicators.
Consumer product and packaging design in most industries occur independently of each other and the there may be significant differences in the priorities among the traditional design inputs of cost and performance, brand aesthetics, and possible regulatory limits. Key environmental performance indicators aren’t easily incorporated into the design process.
LCA can be leveraged to put the power of life cycle thinking in the hands of design professionals so they can choose materials intelligently and optimize designs for resource consumption, inherent toxicity potential and for solid waste disposal.
Packaging touches all aspects of today’s material economy and plays an integral role in delivering goods and services in a global market. The life cycle of packaging begins at design and material selection, and ends when the product is consumed. In developed countries, these materials end up being recycled, incinerated for energy, or disposed via landfill. Understanding the implications of the whole system at the start of concept development and design stages can provide critical information to optimize designs that work within current infrastructure.
As a streamline LCA tool, COMPASS can give directional guidance when multiple packaging choices exist to deliver the product. The process is simple, benchmark existing package and compare it to the new designs, select the option that fits best with the company and brand’s goal and track changes over time. As the global manufacturing community move to ever increasing data transparency, COMPASS can also provide the following services (see graphic):
- Inform corporate sustainability goals
- Screen new design alternatives – “design out”
- Track recycled content
- Engage suppliers in the dialogue
- Profile environmental impacts
- Track sustainability progress
- Communicate efforts to internal and external parties
- Understand solid waste profile
- Benchmark existing portfolio
- Understand life cycle impacts
- Report success
COMPASS is utilized in graduate and undergraduate courses at the Packaging Science Program at RIT. One of the goals of the program is to enhance the educational aspects of sustainable packaging innovation through the use of applied tools. The SPC’s COMPASS is a key tool that is used to facilitate this goal. was used in the design of an award winning student entry of sustainable packaging design for the American Packaging Corporation Challenge 2010.
Professor Karen Proctor, Rochester Institute of Technology, Packaging Science Program
In developing our Eco Responsible Packaging Program, UPS evaluated several tools for calculating life cycle metrics. We decided on COMPASS, due to its breadth of information and our confidence that the Sustainable Packaging Coalition would be committed to keeping this tool updated with the best-available information. COMPASS is now an integral part of our Eco Responsible Packaging Program. It provides many of the metrics we use as we evaluate our customers’ choices of packaging materials and determine eligibility for our program. We value our relationship with the SPC and welcome the release of v2.0, the next step in the development of the
Arnold Barlow, Manager of Sustainability Solutions, UPS