Sustainable Cold Chain Packaging: Reducing Your Cost & Carbon Footprint


Two days after the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published this article, Hurricane Michael’s record-breaking catastrophic effects swept through the Florida panhandle. It’s difficult to continue ignoring alarm bells sounding off on the effects of global warming.

IPCC warns that Governments around the world must make “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society” to avoid disastrous levels of global warming. According to the report, we have until 2030 (just 12 years at time of writing) to correct course and lower the risk of extreme drought, wildfires, floods and food shortages for hundreds of millions of people.

Packaging waste continues to play a significant role in contributing to our environmental problem. When we collaborated with human and animal companies that use cold-chain packaging, it’s alarming to discover the reasons why they have not done more to aggressively move towards a sustainable solution:

  • “It’s too much of a hassle and costs too much money.”

Companies continue to use outdated packaging solutions that have not evolved because they do not want deal with the hassle and cost of re-validating a new package design.

  • “It will have an adverse effect on how our company currently does business.”

There is resistance because changing the packaging could mean a radical shift in how their business operates across the entire supply chain: procurement to distribution to last mile delivery.

  • “We are not having issues. We have always done it this way.”

Here’s a doozy. Companies do not actively seek alternate solutions because often the attitude seems to be “If it’s not broken, don’t try to fix it.”

  • “We will not use more expensive solution.”

It is common practice for companies to ship temperature-sensitive products using the cheapest solution possible leading to packaging inefficiencies and increased waste.

  • Tribal-knowledge is lost

Avoiding change because they simply do not understand how or why the package design was chosen in the first place.

While we understand the reasons, there’s a resolution for each concern. Justified or not- there’s no excuse why companies cannot make change when fear is holding them back.

Sustainable Cold-Chain Packaging Strategies

Getting companies to implement change is a daunting challenge. While sympathetic to change, at the end of the day, companies must remain profitable in the eyes of its shareholders. So, the easiest way to push change is by presenting an option that adds value without adding cost (or, even better, decreases cost).

There are several strategies your company can implement to lessen its environmental impact without increasing costs:

  1. Reduce the size of your cold chain packaging
  2. Reduce your carbon footprint
  3. Reduce warehouse & transportation costs, including inbound/outbound freight
  4. Reduce or eliminate costly overnight shipping
  5. Reduce or eliminate excursions or failures

EPS, or, Styrene (aka “Styrofoam”) packaging is widely used because it’s cheap, easily accessible anywhere, and in most cases, provides the minimal required insulation to serve its purpose of protecting temperature-sensitive products over short shipping cycles.

EPS has historically been known for its negative concoction with our environment. To look for savings, one needs to look into their existing supply chain, from procurement to product distribution, to last-mile delivery to end-users.

Alternatives to EPS packaging are often overlooked due to higher upfront cost of other products. Before quick judgement is made, cost savings need to be understood across the supply chain- specifically with product distribution and last-mile delivery to end-users.

Advantages of Using PUR Insulated Shipping Coolers

Chill-Pak’s two-part polyurethane (PUR) unibody and knock-down insulated shipping cooler solutions are designed to protect and maintain temperature-sensitive products 50% longer than EPS. PUR insulated shippers can:

  • Reduce the size of your existing cold-chain packaging by 20-30%, making it lighter and smaller. PUR has a much higher degree of insulation than many existing solutions (e.g. styrene, EPS) allowing packaging to be more compact and use less gel.
  • Reduce your carbon footprint and warehouse/transportation costs. By using less space on trucks and warehouses, PUR packaging can significantly reduce costs across your entire supply chain.
  • Reduce or eliminate costly overnight shipping. PUR keeps maintains required temperatures longer opening the idea of using Ground shipping, saving money.
  • Having it secure longer also helps reduce or eliminate excursions or failures due to extenuating circumstances beyond your control.

Do Your Part- Protect Our Environment

Consider using a Chill-Pak PUR cooler for your temperature controlled packaging needs. It can eliminate overnight shipping costs, take up less space, reduce the risk of product failures and excursions- all while remaining a cost effective solution for temperature control.  

Chill-Pak’s collapsible PUR coolers and pallet shippers are designed to be reused or repurposed, and work with mail-back recycling programs. We can reduce the size of the cooler making it less expensive to ship, we can reuse in a closed distribution loop and we can recycle using many different processes, ultimately reducing your total cost of ownership.

Take action. Do your part to protect our environment. Your company caters to the needs of its end-users: humans and animals alike. What good is taking care of those customers we we fail to take care of the very “home” we call Earth when she is sick?

Learn how Chill-Pak can save you 40% on your total cost of ownership.