14490 Wed, 05/14/2008 - 3:16pm
By Andrea Lillo
NEW YORK–As the green movement continues to evolve, manufacturers are looking at product packaging to be made more earth-friendly.
Many cookware companies already recycle plenty of steel, cardboard and other resources, so packaging seems to many as the next logical step. While some retailers have made more efforts to have manufacturers incorporate more eco-friendly packaging into their products, a number of vendors have begun this process on their own, as they strive to become more green and realize this is something many consumers want as well.
Cookware and appliance company Fagor America uses recycled cardboard for retail boxes and case packs for all of its products coming from Spain, where its parent company is located, said Patricio Barriga, president of Fagor America. Thirty percent of the cardboard used in its products from China are recycled sources—a number that will jump to 100 percent next year—as the company looks to use all recycled packaging. The quality of recycled packaging “is the same,” Barriga said. But the cost is sometimes not. “In China, recycled packaging is more expensive than regular packaging,” he added.
At German cookware company Fissler, 100 percent of packaging is recyclable, and it’s all sourced with the European Union, said Chris Wert, marketing executive. “Thanks to the EU’s strict adherence to the Kyoto protocol … greater environmental controls are in effect during the production process as opposed to materials produced in lower-cost countries,” he said.
Europe is ahead of the United States in terms of concerns for the environment, Wert added. “We haven’t seen retailers make requirements regarding packaging and other environmental concerns yet, but what we have received from retailers in the form of feedback is that consumers are increasingly looking for more environmentally conscious products.”
Lodge Manufacturing is in the process of switching its packaging to be “more earth-friendly and sustainable,” said Mark Kelly, marketing communications manager. “We’ve been working on that for a while.”
Already the company was recycling a lot, including 48 tons of cardboard last year. In addition, Lodge is looking at other areas where it can make improvements, such as hang tags. The foam pieces that protect the skillets inside the boxes may be replaced by “recycled rocks,” Kelly said, which is made of calcium carbonate. With its products, the concern is that the packaging needs to be durable for shipping and also at point of purchase, he added.
One of the motivations has been that retailers are asking for it, he added, but in addition, the market now has more options to choose from as well. And recycled materials are just as good as regular materials, he said, though some are a bit more expensive. But, like everything else, once more options appear, they become cheaper, he added.
“More and more, [being green] is not a buzz word anymore, but a way to do business,” Kelly said.
Feature Products released its Ceram-Eco non-stick coating at the recent International Home & Housewares Show, which is used on its Starfrit and Heritage line of cookware, and its packaging also had an earth-friendly bent, said Juanita Coumbias, international sales and marketing director. “It just seemed to make a more cohesive statement,” she said.
Feature Products’ packaging uses recycled paper, and a reusable plastic container. Next year, the company will begin converting its line of gadgets as well. “So far, none of the retailers have made this a requirement, but we do feel that it plays in our favor with certain majors … who are at the forefront of the movement,” Coumbias said.
She also agreed that the quality is the same, and “we have seen no difference in flexibility, strength or resistance to wear.” The slight increase in cost, however, has been absorbed without passing it on, she added.