Cardboard slip sheets isolated on white as alternative packaging concept, paper pallet for transportation and delivery

The Value of Switching from Pallets to Slip Sheets

For many brands, switching from pallets to slip sheets provides a lot of value. For brands in the process of improving sustainability throughout their organization, incorporating slip sheets into their supply chain improves the sustainability of tertiary packaging. Like many sustainability moves, it can also double as an opportunity for cost savings.

Problems with Pallets

Pallets are generally made of wood and are becoming a commodity that is no longer a low-cost, disposable part of packaging. The cost of a Wood Pallet can be 2-5 times more expensive than it was just 10 years ago. And as the availability of wood becomes tighter, wood pallets are harder to get, since less wood is available to use for pallets.

In many parts of the world, governments are passing new regulations that shift the burden of costs associated with packaging that winds up in the solid waste stream back onto the companies that create the packaging. This means that in some countries, one-way wooden pallets are now (or will be in the near future) not acceptable. We’ve even seen some movement on this front here in the United States, where Maine is the first state to take this kind of action with its Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) for Packaging law.

A new law in Germany affecting U.S. businesses’ use of pallets states that “Companies which originate a packaging product which eventually ends up in the solid waste stream in Germany will be held responsible for disposing of that packaging.” This means that one-way wooden pallets are not viable in Germany.

These new pieces of legislation may indicate we’ll see more use of economic instruments and other measures in support of the waste hierarchy in the coming years through additional EPR laws. Producers are given an important role in this transition as their responsibility for a product is extended to the post-consumer stage of a product’s life cycle. Lastly, wooden pallets offer a home to insects and other pests, who use the wood as either food or shelter. Importation of pallets is a leading cause of rodent infestation and contaminations in a warehouse.

Slip Sheets as an Alternative

While most pallets are made of wood, slip sheets are typically made of light weight fiberboard, averaging a few dollars or less for each unit-load, making them inexpensive enough to be discarded after each trip. Their use also negates traditional tracking, recovery, repair and/or disposal costs for wood pallets. The cost differential between pallets and slip sheets continues to increase, making themo a very viable alternative to wood pallets.

Since slip sheets don’t have the depth that a pallet has, they’re a less attractive source of food and shelter to pests and, since they can easily be disposed of, the slip sheet can eliminate the risk of cross contamination from previous uses.

Because slip sheets are easily assimilated into the waste-paper market for recycling into new products, they’ll stay out of the solid waste stream and won’t be affected by EPR laws – a significant advantage from both cost and sustainability standpoints. Material handling unitized loads without pallets reduces costs, save trees, and reduces the energy required to transport, manufacture and store pallets.

Slip sheets generally have a lip on two sides that extends beyond the standard load pattern, allowing the slip sheet truck to pull the load onto the fork-lift forks or conveyance for moving, loading or unloading. While they generally are designed for a two-way entry and require a special slip sheet attachment to the standard fork-lift truck, this can readily be attached or detached within 30 minutes.

Performance Comparison

The tare weight of a slip sheet is typically 2 to 3 pounds, a small fraction of the tare weight of wooden pallets, which are typically in the 30-48 pound range. A slip sheet footprint can be identical to that of a pallet, but the space it occupies under a unit-load is insignificant compared to the 10 percent or more taken up by a typical pallet. Most net payloads of unitized product can be increased by 10 percent or more with slip sheets. Put in practical terms, the amount of product that would typically require 100 semi trailers to ship would require only 90 trailers when using slip sheets, saving time and fuel. 

Are Slip Sheets Right for You?

If you’re interested in an audit to learn about how switching to slip sheets can benefit your organization or you’re ready to make the switch, reach out. Our experts have helped companies just like yours save money and improve sustainability with slip sheets, and they’re ready to show you the difference it can make for your company.

Cube World. 3D lowpoly isometric cardboard boxes. The set of objects isolated against the gray background and shown from different sides

Designing Packaging to Protect the Product

Packaging that fails to adequately protect the product during shipping is likely to incur damage that drives unplanned costs. There are many potential hazards a package will face as it makes its way from the manufacturer to the customer, so it’s important that the primary focus when designing packaging is protecting the product. While this may be true, there are also risks of designing a package that provides more protection than needed, which also drives unnecessary costs and creates unnecessary waste. There are a handful of important considerations that can serve as a guide to optimizing the packaging design to protect the product and ensure it reaches the customer free of damage.

Consider the Distribution Environment

As supply chains gain more complexity, more touchpoints often result in more opportunities for package damage. As a result, designing with the entire distribution environment in mind minimizes the potential for costly problems as the product and its packaging move through the system. Understanding the needs of the product, where it ships from and its ultimate destination provides much the information needed to design packaging that provides adequate protection. Knowing whether the packaging will be shipped domestically or travel overseas will help inform how the packaging needs to perform.

A package will likely face a variety of shipping and storage conditions before it reaches the consumer. It may depart the packaging line as part of a unitized load, spend time in a warehouse, get shrink-wrapped with other packages of varying size and shape on a pallet, and face unpredictable conditions during last-mile delivery.

It is also helpful to plan for the unique conditions and hazards the product and its packaging will encounter throughout the distribution environment. During its journey, a package may spend time in a warehouse where temperature and humidity are not controlled, meaning it must endure a range of ambient conditions. Products intended for retail sales and e-commerce distribution will pass through a different number of touchpoints, with e-commerce often involving up to three times as many. Each touchpoint is another opportunity for the package to face conditions that may lead to damage. Designing with the distribution environment in mind also helps reduce time and expenses to successfully qualify the package design

Design for Secondary Packaging & Stacking

Careful consideration of the product and its distribution environment provides the background necessary to choose the right packaging materials and design. While an understanding of the product and the conditions its packaging will face are a good start, but packaging design also needs to account for the time the package will spend stacked on a pallet as a unitized load. The package design needs to support stacking a full pallet load without compromising the integrity of the packages at the bottom of the stack. The design also needs to be efficient enough to optimize the number of packages that fit on each pallet and eliminate wasted space within each package.

An efficient design includes a stacking pattern that accounts for transport overhang and underhang to protect against damage. The stacking pattern should feature the corrugation direction that provides the most stacking strength. Column stacking is ideal, as it provides point-to-point contact of cartons and eliminates shifting on the pallet.

Rightsizing to Reduce Cost and Improve Sustainability

Overpackaging can ensure the product arrives without damage, but it adds to the cost of materials and shipping. It also increases the amount of waste from the packaging, thereby reducing the sustainability of the package. Underpackaging can save on material and transportation costs, but puts the product at risk of shipping damage, leading to costly warranty claims, returns and repacking. The best design is the one that treads the fine line between these extremes. It optimizes packaging materials with just the right amount to make sure the product arrives at its final destination safely.

Source: https://www.renewablematter.eu/articles/article/enough-is-enough-overpackaging-in-the-food-system

To create a design that is sized to fit the product and meets the sweet spot between over and under packaging, many factors must be considered. Knowing your distribution environment, unique product needs and accounting for secondary packaging requirements is a start. In addition, understanding the material properties of your package and how the integrity of the package might break down when exposed to temperature fluctuations, shock, stacking, and vibration will help you make decisions about choosing materials, components and a design that suits the unique needs of your product.

Lean on the Experts

Designing packaging the optimizes protection and minimizes costs can be challenging, but leaning on trusted experts can help your brand get it right. Adept Group has experts in packaging for all industries, and we have the experience to identify the design that works best for your product. If you’re getting ready to roll out a new product, experiencing damage you’d like to remediate or redesigning packaging for an existing product, reach out. We’re ready to help.

sustainability progress

The Value of a Sustainability Audit

While many companies have used sustainability influencers like the Sustainable Packaging Coalition and the Ellen McArthur Foundation to determine what areas they wanted to focus on to improve their sustainable operations, measuring their progress toward goals like designing for recovery, eliminating unfavorable materials and increasing recycling can be complicated.

Many companies have multiple divisions, several packaging lines, and thousands of different SKUs that require unique packaging. Many companies that have goals set, have vague targets and an undefined path to achieve those goals. Not to mention, determining how sustainable each type of packaging and component is and what actions need to be taken to make those sustainable is a big job. To accomplish this, companies can leverage a sustainability audit.

A sustainability audit is a tool that allows companies to evaluate their sustainability goals and objectives, stage-gate progress toward those goals and objectives, and determine what actions will result in significant progress toward those goals.

These are the steps we take to help our clients get to an informed place to make decisions about what project comes next:

Steps-of-a-Sustainability-Audit_Adept-Group

If this position sounds familiar, you’re interested in evaluating your progress or you’d like to identify quick wins to help you move the needle toward your goals, contact us!

E-commerce. Shopping cart with cardboard boxes on laptop. 3d

E-commerce Packaging for a Booming Industry

Since 2019, retail e-commerce sales and e-retail revenues have grown exponentially. Companies have been forced to pivot in their business models to accommodate the changes in distribution environments and rethink e-commerce packaging. When brick-and-mortar stores began to close due to COVID-19 disruptions, many businesses had to choose between shutting down entirely and adapting to meet the challenge.

Enter the e-commerce channel.

Brands will need to invest in packaging solutions that are robust, sustainable and consumer friendly as they refine or adopt online retail as part of their business model.

According to Mordor Intelligence, The e-commerce packaging market was valued at $27.04 billion in 2020 and is expected to reach $61.55 billion by 2026.A report from Spiralytics projects the number of online shoppers will reach 2.1 billion in 2021, up from 1.66 billion in 2016.

This growth will force brands to acknowledge the potential of building or expanding e-commerce capabilities. With this increase in e-commerce popularity, distribution environments will change dramatically and make it even more important to consider these changes when designing packaging.

Optimizing Packaging to Stay Successful and Competitive

When designing packaging for e-commerce, it is important to think beyond the current distribution environment and evaluate how primary packaging will perform in future environments as e-commerce and last-mile delivery continue to evolve. It may be worth investing in redesign or innovation and robustness of the primary pack. If a primary package redesign is not feasible, there are a few additional considerations that may help: 

  • How can the secondary packaging be optimized for product protection while avoiding excessive packaging and the use of void fillers? 
  • Is it cost effective to design specifically sized secondary packaging for each product or develop fewer sizes and ship some products with access space and void fillers? 
  • How do companies find the right combination between product size and package size ranges?

Throughout this distribution cycle, a package can pass through up to three times as many touch-points as a traditional distribution environment. By optimizing primary packaging for e-commerce, brands can invest in packaging formats that use less secondary packaging, which can help to reduce shipping costs while preventing damage and providing better functionality for consumers.

Opportunities to Boost Sustainability

Growing in parallel with consumer interest in e-commerce is consumer concern about the sustainability of the products they purchase. This demand drives the use of more bespoke designs that eliminate excessive packaging and new material concepts, such as fully pulp-based, easy-to-recycle mailers.

More than in the traditional retail environment, e-commerce presents an even bigger responsibility to the consumer to reduce waste. In the traditional retail channel, the consumer is responsible for disposal and recycling of the primary package. In e-commerce, the consumer is left to dispose of and recycle all of the packaging (product and shipping packaging and materials).

It also presents increased opportunities to leverage sustainable packaging. Unlike packaging for the brick-and-mortar retail environment, where the look and feel of a package on a store shelf may influence consumer behaviors, many brands can prioritize sustainability over aesthetics for e-commerce packaging. Because consumers do their shopping and purchasing online, the packaging provides an opportunity to community sustainable messaging and recycling instructions.

As requirements for e-commerce packaging solutions grow, new demands emerge to encourage companies to rethink logistics, marketing and supply chain sustainability.

Key considerations for e-commerce packaging

Unknowns Abound during Last-Mile Delivery

Even after accounting for the rest of the distribution environment, the final delivery is difficult to plan for. How the package is handled by the carrier, its exposure to weather and several other factors are beyond the brand’s control. When the package reaches the consumer, however, the experience they have is not with the carrier, but the e-retailer. Damaged packaging and/or product can significantly impact a brand’s reputation.

According to eMarketer, ecommerce damage is estimated to set companies back nearly $6 billion per year, with 58% of Americans saying their relationship with the e-retailer would be impacted by a damaged product, making it important for packaging to withstand a wide variety of conditions it may face during last-mile delivery.

While the current state of last-mile delivery includes plenty of unknown factors, the future of this portion of the distribution environment also includes conditions that are difficult to predict and plan for, and that future may be closer than it seems.  

Amazon, UPS, and Google are already experimenting with delivery drones. Wing Aviation, owned by Google’s parent company Alphabet, has already received authorization from the Federal Aviation Administration to begin delivering goods via drone. When designing e-commerce packaging, companies need to consider what’s around the corner.

Packaging as Part of the Consumer Experience

As new online stores and subscription boxes emerge and physical retail stores turn to e-commerce, customers are prioritizing three benefits when they choose who to buy from online: speed of delivery, reliability, and hassle-free returns. It’ll be those three qualities that will have the largest influence on future e-commerce and omnichannel packaging design.

Choosing delivery formats that enhance the customer experience is a huge added value for businesses and consumers alike. Since most of the world’s shopping is currently being done online, companies have had to compensate for the loss of the consumer’s singular experience of being able to see or touch something on a shelf or rack before heading to the checkout line.

Birchbox, Julep, Trunk Club, FabFitFun and Glossier make the receipt and unboxing of their packaging fun and personalized. With more and more unboxing videos being posted to social media platforms like Instagram and YouTube, the impact of e-commerce packaging has never been greater.

How the package looks on the outside may impact how the product or brand is perceived, even if the product is not damaged. As more consumers move to e-commerce, brands should consider new ways to improve the packaging experience from start to finish.

If new to e-commerce, companies should evaluate a variety of scenarios, including outsourcing packaging, partnering with a third party/co-packer and build an in-house packaging and fulfillment center.

To understand the e-commerce channel, companies need to establish a solid packaging strategy. Adept Packaging has channel audit and market research expertise, internal innovation panels and an established relationship with an Amazon approved testing facility. With a team of over 70 packaging engineers, Adept has the capability and expertise to help companies create an e-commerce roadmap and implementation plan.

At Adept Group, we have engineers that specialize in the design, engineering and qualification of new or redesigned packaging. If you’re looking for assistance developing e-commerce packaging that will withstand its distribution environment and delight consumers, contact us.

Beat Up Cardboard Box

Cost Savings Through Packaging Damage Remediation

Packaging that doesn’t withstand its distribution environment can lead to staggering costs for a brand. The good news is that you can not only eliminate those sources of cost, but also improve quality and achieve bottom-line cost savings through packaging damage remediation.

Costs incurred because of packaging damage can add up quickly. There are the up-front costs, including the cost of the damaged product and the cost of return shipping, but also a handful of costs that are less obvious. These include items like reworking salvageable product, production schedule disruptions to replace non-salvageable product, re-shipping the order and difficult-to-calculate costs like lost business and damage to brand reputation.

Thoughtfully completing the remediation process can lead to a number of desirable outcomes. A primary goal of this process is to reduce or eliminate warranty and replacement product expenses. The process may also reveal opportunities to optimize wasted space within the packaging and wasted space when the product is stored or shipped in bulk (e.g. on a pallet). It may provide an opportunity to reduce the impact of inefficient choices in packaging design or packaging materials. New packaging design also provides an opportunity to distribute the new designs for competitive bidding by packaging suppliers, which frequently allows a brand reduce costs.

Once you understand the costs of insufficient packaging and the benefits of thoughtfully redesigning packaging to fit a product’s needs, you’re ready to understand the steps required to address these packaging challenges.

Step 1: Identify the Problem

Determining the root cause of the problem can be challenging, but the rest of the process depends on an accurate understanding of when and how product damage occurs. In rare situations, this root cause may be easy to identify. For the majority of situations, it takes some work to pinpoint the causes that lead to packaging failure. It begins with conducting a forensic analysis of the product, its packaging and its distribution environment to gain a better understanding of the product’s packaging needs and the problems you’ll need to solve to make sure the packaging meets those needs. This step involves careful examination of how the product fits in the current packaging, how the current packaging performs during storage and shipping and why it fails to adequately protect the product.

Determining the cause of the damage will require analysis of each stage of the product’s distribution cycle, from the moment it leaves the production line to the moment it reaches the consumer or end user. You need to understand how densely the product is packed when stored in distribution centers and during shipping. For e-commerce products, you must also consider the conditions the package faces during last-mile delivery.

Step 2: Design Engineering

Once you understand your root cause and the conditions a package faces throughout it’s distribution cycle, you can begin redesigning the packaging. Reviewing the 2D and 3D files used in the design of the original packaging provides a head start for the designer. This baseline packaging data provides a starting point from which they can improve upon previous packaging to eliminate its issues. Otherwise, the designer may need to reverse engineer specifications from the current design by breaking down sample packaging.

With this baseline in place, new designs can be compared against the previous packaging specs to confirm the new packaging will solve the issue. Design is an iterative process, and it may take several cycles through designing and the ensuing prototyping and testing steps before a design passes and the necessary stakeholders approve.

Step 3: Develop Prototypes

Once an approved design is in place, it’s time to create prototypes that can be used for testing. Generally, it is a best practice to have the current packaging provider create the new prototype design. When that is not an option, the best qualified supplier should be able to produce the prototype.

The prototype state is also a good opportunity to solicit proposals from several qualified vendors to compare prototype designs and material costs. This is an important time to consider different options and identify opportunities for cost savings.

Step 4: Fit/Check/Approve

With prototypes in hand, it is important to compare their physical characteristics against the design specifications for accuracy. After reviewing the fit, it’s time to check that the product fits within the packaging and evaluate protection characteristics to ensure they match the intent of the new packaging design.

Remember, this is an iterative process, and it may require a few passes through these design and testing cycles until a prototype passes and can be approved for lab testing.

Step 5: Package Design Testing

Package design testing can begin once an approved prototype emerges from the previous steps. Before the product and prototype packaging can undergo testing, it is important to reach a consensus on the testing criteria the lab will use. Discoveries made during root cause analysis can help guide pass fail criteria, as you will know when and how the previous packaging typically failed. 

In addition to establishing pass/fail criteria, you must use your understanding of the product’s distribution environment to determine which testing specifications are appropriate. Different tests may be appropriate for packaging that will travel less than load (LTL) – meaning less than a full truckload, via rail, via air, as a single parcel, etc. Once you know exactly what kind of testing the packaging requires and what the pass-fail criteria will be, the product and package should be sent to an accredited packaging lab.

Keep in mind, this step is part of the iterative portion of this process. The packaging may fail its testing and require modifications before going back to the lab for additional testing.

Step 6: Test Result Analysis

After the packaging design passes its tests, the key stakeholders need to review the package design, cost elements and the testing results before agreeing on a final design. This step is critical because several departments within your organization, often with different priorities, need to buy into changes from the previous packaging. A cost benefit analysis is an important part of this stage because it is important to demonstrate not only that the new packaging addresses the damage issues of the previous packaging, but also to show the cost advantages and disadvantages of the new package design.

In many cases, experienced packaging professionals will be able to find opportunities for bottom-line cost savings on packaging materials and you will be able to demonstrate cost benefits that extend beyond eliminating the costs of damaged product.

Step 7: Design Approval

Armed with successful test results and a cost benefit analysis, your organization’s decision makers will be well positioned to approve the new packaging design. It is important to document all approvals as proof that various groups within the organization reviewed and signed off. If future problems arise with the new packaging, this documentation not only creates a record of who signed off on the design, but also helps determine who should be involved if the packaging needs to undergo additional revisions.

Step 8: Documentation

Because the process can be iterative, it is important to revisit design documents to confirm they include all modifications made to the packaging since the original design drawings were approved. It is also important to document process steps so that the product will be packaged correctly every time, even across different packaging locations and personnel groups. These specifications are a great way to keep a record of all packaging components, their relationship to the overall packaging schematic and any labor required to successfully package the product.

While the individual steps of the packaging damage remediation process are fairly straightforward, all the small, individual decisions made along the way can make this a complicated task. An experienced packaging professional can ensure all those small decisions remain organized and add up positive changes that not only improve quality, but also take advantage of opportunities for cost savings.

Done well, this process can virtually eliminate the costs of damaged product, return logistics, product rework and potential damage to brand reputation, and careful review can also reveal opportunities to produce better packaging at lower costs.

If you’re experiencing quality issues with your packaging and would like to identify a solution that remediates those problem and lowers costs, get in touch. We have experts in packaging damage remediation and cost savings that help you identify and implement long-term solutions to your packaging challenges.

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Cost Savings Through Packaging SKU Rationalization

Many brands are already familiar with SKU rationalization as a business tool, but may not know they can use a similar process to find cost savings in the packaging operation. The familiar process generally involves a merchant evaluating a product’s profitability to determine if they should keep it on shelves. Generating cost savings through Packaging SKU rationalization is a bit different. It’s a process of reducing the number of packaging SKUs by evaluating the dimensions and other characteristics of a finished package.

Packaging SKU rationalization can drive cost savings opportunities in a few different ways.

  • It may allow a brand to consolidate its packaging material suppliers and purchase fewer structures and sizes.
  • It may provide an opportunity to reduce the amount of packaging material inventory it needs to keep on hand. Reducing the number of packaging SKUs helps a brand to better utilize its warehouse space.
  • It also enables a brand to optimize asset utilization across manufacturing and packaging facilities.

Read the Packaging Digest article here to learn about the steps of conducting a successful SKU rationalization.

Factory worker wearing hairnet and hygienic gloves preparing fresh food packages for distribution and market sale.

7 Ps to a Successful Line Trial

This article includes steps to aid in the preparation and the execution of a trial that will guarantee a successful and conclusive test. When preparing for a trial, it is important to identify the 7 Ps: Purpose, Packaging, Product, Plant, People, Papers, and the Plan.

Purpose

Defining the problem and determining its scope provides the purpose and goals of the packaging trial.
• Is there a new product being commercialized?
• Are there consumer complaints?
• Is there a more sustainable option?
• Are there shelf-life failures?
• Are we seeing damage to the packaging prior to ship or during distribution?

Packaging

When evaluating what to test in a packaging trial, consider the primary, secondary, and tertiary packaging. The trial should not be limited to only the materials touching the product. Considering all of the packaging components allows you to think outside of the box when an issue arises or
avoid those issues in the first place.

Product

The Product is the item we are protecting and will be key in identifying problems on the line.
• Identify the product, its unique needs, and its life cycle.
• Identify the product, unique product needs, and its life cycle.
• Can the product be stored prior to the trial?
• Will the product be transported on a refrigerated truck or temperature-controlled transport?

Plant

It is important to thoroughly review the manufacturing site to evaluate any unique conditions that might impact the packaging.
• Is this a co-manufacturer or a plant owned by the company?
• Which plants are currently running the product?
• Are the warehouse and manufacturing site connected?
• Do all plants that will run the product have similar equipment?

People

The team involved with the trial is just as significant as the packaging being tested. Understanding who will need to approve the test plan and results makes the trial process more efficient. A distribution list typically includes the plant manager, quality control, and product development, as
well as any cross-functional team members that may need to approve samples or results.

Papers

Packaging needs a thorough and well-defined documentation process to provide cohesion and keep the trial process on track. Sample documentation includes:
• A Design Brief
• Trial Request Forms
• HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points)
• Labels/Packaging for Samples

Plan

The trial plan encompasses all other essential items in the preparation list. The plan should outline the other essential considerations for the trial, including the purpose, plant location, and details about the product such as its weight and all sizes in scope for the trial. The purpose should be stated concisely, but thoroughly cover the goals and what packaging will be evaluated during the trial.

Planning Your Trial

Focusing on the 7 Ps allows you to adequately prepare for your trial and enables damage reduction and associated costs. This helps to eliminate packaging-related recalls, optimize the distribution cycle and ensure the consumer receives the product in good condition.

Working with a team like Adept to help you execute your trial has numerous benefits, such as a proven methodology, reduced interruptions or refocusing of attention for the internal team, and proven results. If you’d like more detailed information on this topic, check out our recently published white paper on the topic.

If you need help conducting a successful line trial, contact us.

Services

Culture Commitments: Putting Our Values into Action

The events of the past year have been tough on many of us, but they’ve also provided an opportunity to reflect and reexamine some things we take for granted. We have taken advantage of this in many areas of our business, but recently we took the opportunity to reflect on our culture and values, and how we’re putting those values into action.

Throughout 2021, we’re inviting our team to make a pledge to convert Adept Group’s ideals into tangible activities that positively impact ourselves, our environments and our communities.

Improving Our Impact on Our Environment

While it may take some time to truly assess the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the environment, we do know several industries relied heavily on single-use plastics to ease consumers’ concerns about product safety or create in-demand PPE products. While some of those plastics are recyclable, many are not. Additionally, the pandemic-driven fall in oil prices widened the gap between the prices of virgin plastic and PCR plastic. Regardless of the driving factors, the result is the same – more plastic in landfills and more plastic pollution on land and in waterways – and we’re challenging our team to leave the planet better than we found it.

We encourage each of the associates who take this pledge to find their own meaningful way to impact the environment, and we suggested a handful of options to help our team get started. We recommend our team members participate in community cleanup events or find their own way to remove some of the trash that accumulates in public spaces. We encourage our team to find opportunities to volunteer with community recycling programs or spring planting events. For those who are not comfortable with participating in community events, we also provided a suggestion for our associates to reduce their year-over-year home electricity consumption.

As a company, we’re also making our environmental values tangible through our continued partnership with OneTreePlanted. For each new project we take on, we donate a percentage of our profit to help plant trees in forests identified by the United States Forest Service as having the greatest need. We also plan to contribute to reforestation in other parts of the world.

Improving the Lives of People within Our Communities

The events of 2020 highlighted a variety of areas in which we can create positive change in our communities, whether through diversity and inclusion initiatives, helping to feed and shelter people whose income was affected by the pandemic or helping students who are falling behind because of the limitations of distance learning.

Another pillar of our pledge calls on our associates to make a positive impact on their local community. We provided a variety of suggestions to help our team fulfill this aspect of the pledge, including volunteering at shelters that serve vulnerable people in our communities. We encourage our team to contribute to local food drives and seek opportunities to help organizations that aide local veterans. We also suggested our teams seek out equity, diversity and inclusion trainings to learn more about the differences that make our communities vibrant. Because the majority of the Adept team have earned degrees and advanced degrees in STEM fields, we also encourage them to find opportunities to tutor or mentor local students and help prepare the next generation of leaders in STEM occupations.

Promoting the Health and Wellbeing of Our Associates

While the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted many areas for us to help causes outside our own homes, it’s also important that we each focus on taking care of ourselves. Social distancing spurred by the pandemic has prevented many people from connecting in person with friends and family, leading to a separate epidemic of loneliness. The constant barrage of bad news throughout 2020 was enough to induce anxiety among as much as 62% of Americans. Gyms that closed during lockdown cut many people off from a key part of their physical fitness routine. For these reasons, making time for self-care is more important than ever.

The third pillar of our value-driven pledge calls on employees to make time for improving their mental and physical health. While this type of self-care is deeply personal and different for everyone, we offered a variety of suggestions to help our team find an activity that works for them. We encourage employees to work on their physical fitness by training for and participating in events like a virtual 5K. For our employees who enjoy cooking, we encourage them to share healthy recipes for the team or host a virtual cooking demo to show how to prepare a nutritious meal. As the weather warms up across the northern parts of the country, we encourage our team to plan for walking meetings to combine physical activity with productivity or to take a break by participating in our monthly virtual trivia meetings. We also encourage our team to seek out mental wellness trainings.

By contributing to these initiatives, our team is taking steps toward a more positive and healthy future and we can’t wait to see the results. Join us and pledge to make a positive impact today!

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Adept Leadership: International Women’s Day

Diversity has been a pillar of Adept since its inception. Women make up 71% of our leadership. Our associates speak 6 native languages and hail from nearly every corner of the world. Our diverse experiences, backgrounds and perspectives play a significant role in our success.

In celebration of International Women’s Day, we interviewed 5 of our fierce female leaders who champion the values of Adept Group.

Hasanna Birdsong, Managing Director

What does gender equality look like in our company and on our leadership team?

Gender equality goes beyond representation at Adept. Gender equality means that everyone has the same access to opportunities, rewards and resources. Our compensation and opportunities for advancement are both reflective of that.

Have you ever been in a situation that made you think that ‘women’ and ‘power’ are two incompatible concepts?

I’ve been fortunate to have worked with organizations that embraced the concept of women as leaders. I’ve worked with organizations that purposefully sought out women to diversify their leadership teams to do so.

What is the best advice you’ve been given about being a leader?

Being a leader is about showing up and doing your best even when you don’t have all the answers. It’s important to know your limitations and identify a team that can cover your blind spots.

I’ve always surrounded myself with people who were better than me at certain things so that together we could deliver exceptional work. At Adept I learn from the people I work with every day.

How does our team leverage diversity as one of our strengths?

Our diversity in experience has led to our ability to develop different strengths. As a team, we have people who excel at innovation and conceptual or futuristic thinking.  There is a time and a place for all of those things. We are learning who we can call on when the need arises for different ways of thinking and designing solutions for the challenges we face.

Why do you do what you do? What is your “why”?

Whether it’s people, a team or a company, I love to be a part of growing things. I do what I do because I get to be a part of that process. Growth comes from learning. The opportunity to teach and learn right alongside the talented leaders I work with is a privilege. I consider myself very lucky!

Angela Connell, Director of Human Resources

What does gender equality look like in our company and on our leadership team?

Gender equality in our company and on our leadership team is removing all barriers and creating equal opportunities for everyone in the company!

Have you ever been in a situation that made you think that ‘women’ and ‘power’ are two incompatible concepts?

I have been fortunate that I have always worked in companies and with leaders who empowered me. As a mother, I have never felt insecure about those two concepts until the pandemic. As the primary caregiver in my family, it is easy to think you are not worthy of power when you are running homeschool and your career simultaneously. In our company, we have been so fortunate that as a team, both men and women, we have an understanding and appreciation that this is not normal and these two concepts should be completely compatible. 

What is the best advice you’ve been given about being a leader?
  • Always consider the team and company when making decisions. 
  • Find out what each member of the team’s strengths are and help them grow based on those strengths. 
  • Be honest! Saying you have to get back to someone is better than giving your team false information. 
How does our team leverage diversity as one of our strengths?

Our diversity has led to our company being able to grow in different areas of the business and with different contacts within the industries we serve. The diversity in the skills of the team creates an internal network for our entire company to lean on one another when any individual is doing something new within a project. 

Why do you do what you do? What is your “why”?

I love people and I love helping them succeed in what they want to do within their career! I also love being part of the change that helps a company grow and become a better place to work!

Cindy Diamse, Director of Food, Beverage and CPG

What does gender equality look like in our company and on our leadership team?

Our company has always had a fairly decent gender mix – whether as leaders or engineers. I have always appreciated the mix since engineering can typically be a male-dominated field. Today, our leadership team includes more females than males, but not intentionally – we selected our leaders based on strength, experience, and potential…and it just happened to land with a higher percentage of women! 

Have you ever been in a situation that made you think that ‘women’ and ‘power’ are two incompatible concepts?

These days, no. Today, women are as powerful as ever and taking on more leadership roles. We have a woman vice president! What else can I say?  

What is the best advice you’ve been given about being a leader?

Be authentic and be accessible. 

How does our team leverage diversity as one of our strengths?

We have diversity in all aspects – knowledge, ethnicity, experience…we bring all of these to the table, and it outputs only the optimal solutions to our clients. Each one of us appreciates and values one another’s diversity and we each incorporate it into our everyday ways of working – making us a strong and successful team.

Why do you do what you do? What is your “why”?

Whether in a personal or professional situation, I love tying the right people together and making sure everyone benefits! It gives me such satisfaction to see all parties happy at the end of the day.

Jessica Southerland, Director of Staffing

What does gender equality look like in our company and on our leadership team?

I’m so fortunate to be a part of such a diverse team at Adept. Having Associates and Leaders from dozens of cultures and heritages enables us to be well rounded organization.

Have you ever been in a situation that made you think that ‘women’ and ‘power’ are two incompatible concepts?

I had this experience with previous employers, but at Adept, my opinions and beliefs on how this organization can grow and continue to be great are always considered, and often asked for. It’s such an honor for a company to recognize their associates’ opinions and thoughts as we continue to grow.  

What is the best advice you’ve been given about being a leader?

Leadership is about taking care of the people that are a part of the team. We are all respected and recognized for our hard work and efforts to delightfully please our clients. If we take care of our people, everything else that comes with success follows.

How does our team leverage diversity as one of our strengths?

Having this diversity allows us the ability to include perspectives and ideas not only for our clients, but our internal goals and objectives, giving us a wide view of how to approach a program and deliver above and beyond what is being requested.

Why do you do what you do? What is your “why”?

I love interacting with all of the associates within the company, especially hearing their challenges and their thought process to work through those obstacles. I enjoy assisting them with growth and development and supporting them through the course of their professional career. There is so much reward when an associate is placed in a position that empowers them to learn, challenge themselves, and be a part of the client’s solution for packaging support.

Jessica Bargilione, Director of Marketing

What does gender equality look like in our company and on our leadership team?

Since I started at Adept, building a diverse team has always been a priority because leadership has always recognized the strength that comes from different experiences, beliefs and perspectives. Though unintentional, our leadership team is predominantly female. We’ve chosen both our leadership team and our employees based on a skill set that extends beyond expertise and experience, but accounts for commitment, versatility and drive to put our clients and company first.

Have you ever been in a situation that made you think that ‘women’ and ‘power’ are two incompatible concepts?

I remember being 8 years old playing little league. As the only girl in the league, some of the parents didn’t feel I belonged there. They were discussing my ineptitude due to my gender, as my older, much less restrained sister turned around and suggested, “you didn’t seem to have a problem with her being a girl until she struck out your grandson.” The chatter about me not being skilled enough to play ended there. I’ve been fortunate throughout my life and career to be part of a family, as well as several teams and groups that believe achievement comes from ability and drive, rather than gender.

What is the best advice you’ve been given about being a leader?

Surround yourself with the right people. Empower them with the culture, tools and resources to be successful, then get out of the way.

How does our team leverage diversity as one of our strengths?

We have brilliant associates from all over the globe that have different backgrounds, skillsets and experiences. One of the greatest strengths as a company is our ability to lean on one another to solve problems, develop new ideas and leverage our diverse perspectives to deliver creative solutions.

Why do you do what you do? What is your “why”?

To enable people to tap into their strengths and empower understanding through establishing the right connections; whether through education, communication or experience.

Beverage bottles conveyorSM

Serialization Adds Value Beyond Compliance for Food and Beverage Companies

Serialization is a word synonymous with compliance, but the value it can add to a supply chain extends far beyond following the rules. While the Pharmaceutical industry has been unveiling the benefits for several years, the Food and Beverage industry is just starting to recognize the possibilities that become available when implementing a serialization solution.

The following infographic highlights some of the different business areas that serialization solutions can impact and improve business operations, and add overall value to the supply chain.

If you’re interested in finding out how serialization might be able to benefit your company, contact us, our digital team looks forward to the challenge.

Serialization-benefits-for-food-and-bev

Reuse, Reduce, Recycle. Environmental vector wordcloud background.

Sustainable Packaging Trends for 2021

Despite significantly increased usage of single-use plastics during the COVID-19 pandemic, packaging sustainability remains a priority for brands across all industries. While consumer caution has been a cause for many individuals to deprioritize sustainable habits, brands did not retreat from their sustainability goals in 2020, and this year is on track to be one in which packaging continues to make strides toward a more sustainable future.

A handful of approaches have emerged as sustainable packaging trends for 2021:

Chemical Recycling for Plastics

As chemical recycling methods and technologies for plastics continue to improve, the practice is gaining proponents. Expanded chemical recycling efforts are included in the British Plastics Federation’s recent “Recycling Roadmap,” which charts a course to the U.K. recycle 3.5 times more plastic than it currently does by 2030. As the amount of single-use plastics discarded by consumers continues to grow, chemical recycling may help stem the tide of plastics that end up in landfills, or worse, in oceans and other waterways.

In many areas, the demand for recycling surpasses the local market’s ability to process the plastic through mechanical means, which drives demand for alternative means of recycling.  Additionally, the narrow range of plastics that can be recycled by traditional means and the limited number of uses for recycled plastics mean it is unlikely that mechanical recycling will catch up to the problem.

To make use of the large volume of post-consumer plastics generated each year, recycling facilities will need to use a variety of chemical processes to supplement traditional mechanical recycling. Research teams are already working on chemical recycling methods for a wider range of materials, including polystyrene, which will greatly reduce the amount plastic that winds up in landfills or as litter.

E-commerce Sustainability

E-commerce shipments – and the packaging that comes with it – have been on a steady rise in recent years. That trend continued in 2018, with 91% of Americans receiving packages at their home this holiday season according to Ranpak’s First Annual E-Commerce and Packaging Trends Survey. While recent e-commerce statistics may be boosted by consumers cautious to shop in crowds during the COVID-19 pandemic, they may retain those online shopping habits once things return to normal. Regardless, this sharp and continued rise in e-commerce puts a spotlight in efforts to make shippers and primary packaging more sustainable.

Brands riding the wave of increased e-commerce sales are eager to boost their sustainable practices, both in response to consumer demand for environmentally friendly products and because sustainable packaging is often good for the bottom line. There are a variety of approaches brands can use to improve the sustainability of e-commerce packaging, including designing packaging with materials that are easy for consumers to recycle. Rightsizing e-commerce packages and optimizing the amount of padding/dunnage included within the package drive sustainability and cost savings on two fronts, both by reducing the cost of materials and reducing size and weight, which improves fuel efficiency during shipping.

Growth in Reusable Packaging

While recyclable and compostable materials play a key role in steering packaging away from landfills, they won’t completely solve our waste issues. Following the path blazed by TerraCycle’s Loop program, which expanded nation-wide in 2020, companies such as LimeLoop, Algramo, RePack and any of the are taking their own approach to growing adoption of reusable packaging. The market for reusable packaging was valued at $30.5 billion in 2019, and a 2020 report from Grand View Research projects it will grow by more than 5% by 2027. While some were concerned that growth may take a hit because of consumer caution during the pandemic, indications showed continued growth through the early months of the crisis, with Loop reporting its sales nearly doubled between March and April.

It’s not just startups springing up to create reusable packaging, major brands are jumping on board to incorporate reusables. Mars, Inc.’s  Sustainable Packaging Plan centers around a commitment to switch to 100% reusable, recyclable or compostable packaging by 2025, including testing 10 reusable packaging programs. Albertsons Plastics and Packaging Pledge includes encouraging customers to use reusable bags, some of which include material from recycled single use shopping bags, and using reusable containers behind the scenes throughout its supply chain.

Whether you’re years into your sustainability journey or looking for sustainable packaging solutions to help your brand get started, the Adept Packaging team has the experience and know-how to help you map out your next steps. Whether it’s sustainable strategy, ideation or implementation, our team is stacked with professionals that can help you transform your packaging. We will help you optimize not only the sustainability of your packaging but reduce costs as well. If you’re ready to incorporate sustainable packaging solutions that drive bottom line savings, get in touch.

Concept of frozen products: fruits, vegetables, fishs, meat, spices herbs, were frozen inside ice cubes

Cold Chain Trends for Food Brands

The tidal wave of media coverage around COVID-19 vaccines has thrust the cold-chain market into a global spotlight, but cold-chain technology isn’t just for brands in the life sciences space. Cold-chain packaging and shipment play a growing role for brands in the food industry as well. While most people typically think of the cold chain as a network of refrigerated warehouses and cargo vehicles that keep products at a controlled temperature, packaging is the common link that connects them all and ensures the product maintains its temperature as it moves throughout the supply chain. Understanding the trends and projections for cold chain will help food brands prepare more efficiently for their next steps.

Increased Demand

As consumer demand for high-end food products grows around the world, brands need to ship products across greater distances quickly, while maintaining high standards for quality. According to Statistics MRC, the global cold chain market is projected to grow 400% from 2018 to 2027, reaching a total value of more than $600 billion. While the CPG portion of the market is still dominated by dairy and frozen dessert items, bakery and confectionery products are forecast to generate increased demand for cold-chain services. A growing middle-class population in developing economies drives demand for fresh produce, which requires cold chain solutions to move from agricultural regions to population centers.

A Need for Investment in Sustainability

Keeping products at a controlled temperature requires refrigeration, both in storage facilities and transportation vehicles, and that refrigeration consumes a lot of energy. While cold-chain storage and shipping can be energy-intensive, the increase in demand for cold food products is fueling innovation in efficiency and sustainability.

Many providers are investing in sustainable cold-chain solutions, but there is no established leader in this space. Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) are the most commonly used refrigerants and may contribute more to global greenhouse gasses than carbon dioxide. Penske Logistics is exploring compressed natural gas as an alternative to diesel-powered refrigeration systems for trailers.

Others companies look to electric vehicles as a more sustainable solution for keeping products at a controlled temperature in transit. Improved insulation and remotely controlled cooling systems also look to improve energy and fuel consumption from vehicles through involved in the cold chain. As adoption of reusable packaging continues to grow, reusables may also provide a sustainable solution for products in the cold chain.

Growing Role of Third-Party Logistics

Third-party logistics (3PL) play a growing role in processing and packaging cold chain food products. 3PLs provide a variety of services that may not be cost effective for frozen food brands  to handle themselves, including storing frozen product until it’s time to fill specific orders, transporting frozen foods to be packaged at retailers and preparing proteins for export outside the U.S. This role for 3PLs is particularly prominent in the ecommerce space, as few companies that specialize in ecommerce have the need to maintain temperature-controlled distribution centers of their own. As efficient ecommerce distribution becomes the norm in the B2C space, rising expectations for fast B2B shipping also provide an opportunity for temperature controlled 3PLs to step up and grow their presence in the food supply chain.

As cold-chain technology advances, it will create opportunities for many more brands in the food industry to distribute fresh products more efficiently and across greater distances. If your brand needs to add cold-chain distribution capabilities or improve existing capabilities, Adept can help. Our team includes highly experienced consultants in both cold chain packaging and logistics. Get in touch to discuss solutions to your cold-chain challenges.