The 2011 Sustainability in Packaging Conference (SusPack), held in Orlando, FL, at the end of February, hosted more than 200 packaging professionals and 40 presentations. “Bio-based is big, renewable is rad, sugar is sweet and the geek squad has come to packaging sustainability,” summarized Lisa McTigue Pierce, a writer from Packaging Digest, one of the sponsors of this year’s conference. One of the speakers at the conference, Peter Swaine, Director of Global Strategic Sourcing at Seventh Generation, was there to school the group about the sustainable packaging currently used at Seventh Generation and to unveil a new laundry detergent bottle design featuring 66% less plastic than the brand’s current bottle. EarthShift was also on hand to provide classes and training. Representing the company was Laurel McEwen, Training and Marketing Manager. EarthShift offers the most comprehensive life-cycle assessment training on the market today. McEwen teaches and develops classes that guide companies from the ground up, starting with carbon footprints. They were at the conference to launch a new product called PackageSmart. PackageSmart is software that simplifies life-cycle assessments so packaging designers can look at the impacts of a product in the beginning stages of the design. This enables them to make good environmental decisions at the start of the design process rather than at the end, when all the environmental impacts are “locked up.” Another speaker, Travis Carter, Director of Sustainability at Unisource Global Solutions, spoke about the importance of cradle-to-cradle solutions. As more companies ask their packaging designers to consider the package’s end of life at its creation stage, things like recyclable and compostable packaging become part of the conversation. Emma Dawley spoke about global product stewardship laws. She is a Project Manager at Environmental Packaging International, a consulting group specializing in packaging sustainability and compliance with global product stewardship laws. Some things she mentioned were takeback and recovery programs for packaging once it has been used. This is SusPack’s fifth year, and it seems to point to a growing trend toward sustainability in all facets of consumer goods. “As citizens, we vote with our wallets, and then we all have to live with the choice of the majority,” Harry West, CEO of Continuum, said. “But, along with the right to vote, we have the responsibility to be informed.”