Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Iconic Girl Scouts Cookie Packaging: Paper to Plastic?

By Eric Carlson, CPP- Chainalytics
For the Girl Scouts Cookie® purist, the new “Thanks-A-Lot”™ cookie packaging that is being tested in the Midwest may seem like the sad end of an era.

This new packaging design eliminates the paperboard carton by replacing it with a plastic wrap. According to ABC Bakers, the manufacturer of Girl Scouts Cookies, the new packaging will remove 150 tons of paperboard from the waste stream and save energy equal to 35,000 gallons of fuel, based on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Waste Reduction Model.

Chainalytics Packaging Optimization Practice, a team of Certified Packaging Professionals providing independent packaging engineering and consulting services, often suggests similar packaging changes reduce packaging and/or logistics costs to its clients. Had the Girl Scout organization asked us, we might have suggested this change as an option. However, we wonder if distribution and packaging testing was done to evaluate the impact of the new packaging on the quality or appearance of the delivered cookie.

Any time a packaging design change is made, due diligence demands that the new design be tested to assure that performance meets or exceeds expectations. Distribution testing to an internationally recognized ship test protocol (ASTM, ISTA, ISO) is highly recommended to understand not only baseline performance, but to provide some qualitative and quantitative measures of performance of the new packaging.

As a long-term consumer of the iconic Girl Scout Cookies, I can say that I never remember getting broken cookies. I hope that the Girl Scouts have done their cookie homework so that the cookies arrive intact to their adoring fans.

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