( Courtesy Sambrailo Packaging/Forbidden Fruit Orchards )
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Sustainability is more than a commitment; it’s a statement, marketers say.

Companies are communicating with customers and consumers about sustainable/environmentally conscious practices, they note.

Watsonville, Calif.-based Sambrailo Packaging, for example, aims “to share openly” the mission of its ReadyCycle sustainable packaging, said Sara Lozano, manager of marketing and product development.

“We believe our next evolution of packaging is sustainable and addressing the environmental concerns is paramount,” she said. 

Company founder Charles Sambrailo’s philosophy centered on “doing what is right for the produce,” and that remains the company’s mission, Lozano said. She noted that “we want to pair this with our environmental mission and create a product line that progress our industry in the right direction.”

McAllen, Texas-based breathable bag maker Fox Packaging puts out its sustainability message on multiple fronts, said Victoria Lopez, marketing representative.

“There are social campaigns, trade announcements, advertisements and digital avenues leading consumers to brand’s websites that outline their sustainability practices, but packaging is the most beneficial billboard which communicates a company’s corporate cause — packaging can be seen as that baton of education, hopefully spurring action in a consumer,” she said. 

Many retailers have adopted environmental communication via the How2Recycle program label, a standardized labeling system that communicates recycling instructions to consumers, she noted.

Other companies are getting their message out on multiple channels, as well, said Karen Reed, marketing and communications director with Union Gap, Wash.-based Kwik Lok Corp., which makes closures.

“When they do something that helps them meet a goal or when they meet goals, they are owning the accomplishments,” she said. 

“You also see many companies adopting things like the ‘How2Recycle’ label that makes it easier for the consumer to understand what aspects of the package are recyclable.”

The global COVID-19 coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic might have diverted some of that consumer attention, said Brianna Shales, senior marketing manager with Wenatchee, Wash.-based Stemilt Growers LLC.

“Consumers want to know that companies are doing all that they can for their people, especially if they are an essential business,” Shales said. “That doesn’t mean they don’t care about packaging or that this will be something they want to know more about in the future. For us, bulk is still the primary way that apples and pears are sold, and quite a sustainable way at that.”

The sustainability message still is just as important as ever, though, Shales noted.

“As consumer packs become more prevalent, we have to keep addressing the materials and recyclability of these packages,” she said. “We want to find a solution that works well for fruit quality and the environment because that’s how we really delight consumers.”

Messaging is important for Atlanta-based box maker Georgia-Pacific, as well, said Michael Hayford, area general manager of GP Corrugated.

“At GP, we strive to be a preferred partner with our key customers, and that includes communicating and coordinating directly with their sustainability, sourcing, and procurement departments to discuss how we can promote and enhance their sustainability goals,” he said.

Many box manufacturers are providing more data to their customers about their sustainable practices — from raw materials to manufacturing, said Rachel Kenyon, senior vice president of the Itaska, Ill.-based Fibre Box Association.

“Several companies produce sustainability reports and make facts and data more readily available on their websites, through certification markings, fact sheets and simply by responding to questions from their customers,” she said. 

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