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Greenpac: The Challenges of Keeping It Green

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Greenpac: The challenges of keeping it green

        Greenpac is an environment-friendly packaging company, providing ecologically responsible packages for other firms. Established by CEO Susan Chong in 2002, the company worked extensively to try and establish itself as the market leader in the industry. As all innovative businesses, it all started with an idea. Susan was aware of the downright criminal wastage in the packaging industry, as well as the lack of any viable ‘green’ alternative available to clients. This was due to her involvement in her husband’s family packaging business. Starting from extremely humble beginnings, Susan worked hard to make Greenpac the market leader in the industry within a decade.

        In November 2009, Greenpac was approached by SPRING – Singapore, on behalf of Singapore Aquarium Fish Exporters’ Association (SAFEA) to create a sustainable and eco-friendly packaging material for exporting fish. The most widely used material was Styrofoam, which had several disadvantages both for environmental purposes as well disposal. Greenpac decided to take on this challenge.

Step 1: Market research about the industry.                

Since Greenpac had no prior experience in the fish packaging industry, it was deemed vital to gather information about how the market operated. It was found that the ornamental fish industry was almost entirely export based, hence the packaging of the product to be durable. Certain factors such as quality of fish, oxygen level, pH3, temperature, density etc. were discovered to have the most impact on the fish survival in foreign markets. Hence, they needed to ensure Greenpac came up with packaging that maximized ease of transport as well as kept the fish mortality negligible.

Step 2: Identifying and analyzing existing products.

          Susan and her team decided to explore the current packaging system extensively, aided by experts in the field. It was found that most fish farmers used polyethylene bags to seal the fishes after oxygenating them. These were placed in Styrofoam containers, ready to be loaded.

Step 3: Identifying what aspects of existing packaging needed to be improved upon.

Greenpac decided the new packaging needed to have at least the same level of insulation provided by the Styrofoam containers. It must also be portable, able to use cargo space efficiently, prevent leakage, as well as be affordable to make the switch. After these requirements were agreed upon, the project was given the green signal.

Step 4: Re-engineering.

The team led by Susan started by analyzing which material would be a suitable substitute which would meet all the above requirements. After close inspections of a variety of material available, metalized bubble packaging was chosen as the primary component to replace the polystyrene foam. It would then be sealed with Velcro. For testing, three prototypes were created. The only difference amongst the prototypes was the number of metallized layers and bubble wrap layers. The three prototypes were priced differently, owing to the differences in raw materials, however all were significantly more expensive than the existing packaging material available. For comparison, the cheapest prototype cost $8.03, compared to $6.02 for the existing model. Prototypes 1 and 2 were cleared for test shipments. Prototype 3 was added for the next shipment. Both turned out to be successes, and the company decided to present all 3 for launch, recommending Prototype 1.



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