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Innovating Efficient Collaboration

By: Jeff Falk
Posted: September 5, 2008, from the September 2006 issue of GCI Magazine.

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Esko has created 3-dX, a plug-in for Adobe® Illustrator® that creates a 3-D PDF file that can be viewed, rotated, annotated and approved directly in Adobe® Reader®. The software allows the packaging to be virtually held and generates the two-dimensional assets required in the next step of the packaging supply chain.

PitStop Professional, from Enfocus, facilitates the rapid and accurate exchange of files within a PDF work flow, allowing PDF preflight, auto-correction and editing. The company’s StatusCheck enables everyone in the production chain to verify the attributes of the PDF file. According to the company, its technology provides capabilities that bridge critical gaps in PDF work flows—including automatic error correction and editing capabilities. Enfocus also offers an online resource that provides up-to-date PDF specifications to everyone in a work flow.

The End of the Cycle

Product Life Cycle Management, in addition to considering design and production, also should consider the disposal of a package. It seems to be an aspect of the life cycle of packaging that has been ignored until relatively recently, making companies such as Aveda stand out. “Designing for the environment takes package development to a new level,” said John Delfausse, vice president, package development, Aveda, in the December 2005 issue of GCI magazine. “Supplier environmental and social ethics is also a new consideration.” Delfausse asked the members of his department to think about how they will educate the consumer about the package’s end-of-life handling.

There are software tools available that will allow any company to access the impact of packaging disposal. MERGE (Managing Environmental Resources Guidance and Evaluation) is a real-time decision support tool that incorporates environmental considerations into the design of packaging, as well as formulated products. The software, an initiative of the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and the Pew Charitable Trusts, uses basic packaging component input data to generate environmental profiles or alternate packaging options. MERGE requires no prior environmental expertise or training, and offers a systematic means to measure and compare the environmental performance.

But is it Innovation?

Research conducted by Perception Research Services and presented by its president, Scott Young, at The Packaging Summit 2006, indicates that environmentally friendly packaging is not a driving factor in moving products off a shelf. It may be a factor that pushes a purchase “over the edge,” but consumers in this study did not make a purchase based on end-life impact. So, should innovation be the sole factor in considering options in the creation and development of packaging? That depends on how you’re going to define profitable.