A new tool developed by the Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC) allows packaging makers to see the life cycle impacts of their design choices and guide them to better decisions.

The SPC's COMPASS (Comparative Packaging Assessment) software, set for release on March 23, provides information on the human and environmental impacts of different packaging.

Designers use the tool by inputting the amounts of what materials they are using. Based on life cycle assessment, the tool provides information on the materials' greenhouse gas emissions, aquatic toxicity, material health, recycled or virgin content, sourcing, solid waste, and fossil fuel, water consumption and other criteria.

COMPASS does not recommend one material over the other; it instead lays out all the various impacts of materials, letting designers compare various materials and base their decisions on that.

The SPC, a project of GreenBlue, developed the software's metrics and methodologies with input from others in the packaging industry supply chain and the system was reviewed by stakeholders, including the U.S. EPA. The life cycle impacts were derived from industry average life cycle inventory data for common materials, and include data for the U.S. and European Union.

COMPASS will be available through an annual license costing $500 for SPC members and $750 for non-members. Each license allows up to five users.

Another tool aimed at helping companies make better decisions about their packaging is the Reusable Packaging Association's Reusables Cost Comparison Tool, which compares the cost differences between single-se corrugated packaging and reusable plastic containers. Developed with StopWaste.org, the calculator compares costs of actual packages, replacement rates, number of carton used, return miles for reusable packaging and more.

Boxes on pallets - CC license by dalangalma