Georgette 1

Cool Boxes for a Warming Planet

Georgette Packaging

8. Decent Work and Economic Growth 12. Responsible Consumption and Production 13. Climate Action 14. Life Below Water 15. Life on Land

Overview

Single-use packaging has become synonymous with pollution in recent years. Georgette Packaging aims to rewrite that narrative by carefully sourcing packaging that minimizes environmental harm. Their services are especially valuable to small to medium sized businesses who might not have access to the knowledge or scale to make these responsible choices on their own.

Author

Eadaoin Quinn

Eadaoin Quinn

School

York University- Schulich School of Business

York University- Schulich School of Business

Professor

Charles Cho

Charles Cho

Innovation

“Paper or plastic bag?” has been a common question at checkout counters for years. A dedicated environmentalist might feel inclined to choose a paper bag to minimize the risk of the bag entering the natural environment as litter. But what about the carbon emissions associated with manufacturing and shipping the heavier paper bag? And what if the plastic bag contains post-consumer recycled content? Weighing the pros and cons of packaging choices can be overwhelming, even to a consumer who is trying to make the right decision.

Enter Georgette Packaging. They have a deep knowledge and passion for guiding their customers through the grey area of responsible, sustainable packaging choices. Understanding that there is no one-size-fits-all solution, they work with customers to find packaging that will surpass their expectations of functionality while respecting the impact their packaging choice will have on the environment and society.

Today, Georgette Packaging primarily works with companies operating within the North American context, but the UN SDGs that it addresses have a global impact. Most directly, Georgette Packaging helps businesses achieve Goal #12 of ensuring sustainable consumption and production patterns. In pursuit of this goal, their customers can support Goals #14 & #15 of conserving life in water and on land, Goal #13 of combatting climate change and Goal #8 of promoting decent work. Georgette Packaging’s recommendations focus on ways that their customers can reduce waste and pollution (Goal #14 & #15), reduce and offset carbon emissions (Goal #13), and support manufacturing operations where workers’ rights and safety are respected (Goal #8).

Cool Boxes for a Warming Planet

Sustainable packaging for food and consumer products industries

Inspiration

Sarah Landstreet, Founder & CEO of Georgette Packaging, learned from experience that choosing the type of to-go packaging can be a complicated choice. As the former owner of a cupcake bakery in Ireland, Landstreet found it difficult to source packaging that both advertised her brand and reflected her values. While a consumer-packaged goods company might have an entire packaging department to work on these challenges, Landstreet felt her small businesses had a very limited set of options due to budget and scale.

“We’re not the Walmart of packaging,” Landstreet says. “I appreciate that [Walmart] scoured the planet to find the cheapest prices. But I want to know more. Who made this? What is it made of? How do I recycle it? I want to vote with my dollars.”

Seeing this need in the marketplace, she dove in providing a wider set of alternatives to business owners who might find themselves facing a similar set of constraints. As a trained engineer, Landstreet saw the opportunity to solve a complex problem that was not getting the attention it deserved. In addressing this particular business need, Landstreet also saw the opportunity to spread awareness about the global challenges of plastic pollution, natural resource depletion, and climate change.

Overall impact

The most immediate impact of Georgette Packaging’s sustainable packaging services has been its customers’ transition to packaging that is less harmful to the environment. For example, the traditional paper-based baked goods box typically has a thin layer of plastic to prevent oil from the treat from creating an oil splotch on the box. This plastic makes the box difficult to recycle and creates unnecessary waste. “Is anyone surprised that a donut might be greasy?” asks Landstreet. Instead of trying to mask an obvious reality, Georgette Packaging offers paper boxes without plastic that can be easily recycled or composted. Simple shifts like this one have directly led to waste reduction with each new sale.

In situations where a packaging change can not eliminate environmental impact, Georgette Packaging offers customers the opportunity to offset associated carbon emissions. In fact, they have committed that all their packaging is now fully carbon neutral, a first for Canadian packaging companies. They have partnered with the carbon credit trading firm Pachama to support projects that reduce carbon in the atmosphere through restoration of natural forest ecosystems. To date, the projects that Georgette Packaging has supported through Pachama has compensated for 4,362 metric tonnes of CO2, or the equivalent to 2,466 trees being planted.

As for long term impact, Georgette Packaging is concerned about more than just replacing the specific cup a customer gives out. They understand their role they play as educators, not just for their customers, but for their customers’ customers. With that goal in mind, Georgette Packaging runs a website (knowyourpackaging.com) dedicated to providing further information and context for how and why it makes the packaging recommendations that it does. The website includes a series of educational videos and articles meant to engage a broader audience in the environmental challenges surrounding packaging.

Business benefit

Georgette Packaging was recently featured on The Globe and Mail’s 2021 list of Top Growing Companies in Canada. Over the past three years, they have seen a 188% revenue growth. Driven by heightened consumer awareness around sustainable packaging, Georgette Packaging is well-positioned to continue this growth in coming years.

Beyond offering products that check the boxes of environmental sustainability, Georgette Packaging has capitalized on advertising potential that to-go packaging offers. While brown paper packaging can certainly demonstrate environmental values, eco-friendly packaging does not need to be drab. Georgette Packaging knows the value of packaging that will stand out on an Instagram feed, and it works with customers to design packaging that will be photographed and remembered.

Since starting operations as a one-woman business in 2013, Landstreet has expanded Georgette Packaging to now employ 13 people at its Kitchener, Ontario headquarters. As the business grows, Landstreet is committed to the health and wellbeing of the team. With a focus on diversity, Landstreet has tried to attract employees with unique backgrounds to foster an atmosphere that invites new ideas. Outside of daily goals, Landstreet has focused on team-building initiatives like their monthly social. Employees prepare a health-focused, simple meal to share with each other. When preparing the meal and choosing ingredients, employees are encouraged to “walk the walk” of asking the questions that their packaging customers might ask – Who made this? Where did it come from? What is its environmental impact?

Social and environmental benefit

Georgette Packaging is actively involved in replacing environmentally harmful packaging with alternatives that will do less damage. They are the first to recognize that none of their products are the ultimate solution, but they know that there are better options from what is currently the industry standard. Through their work, their customers have more transparency on the decisions they are making. This transparency has allowed them to choose products that are more likely to be recycled, less likely to end up as litter, more likely to support local manufacturing jobs, and less likely to contribute to climate change. There is no perfect way to package for the environment, but Georgette Packaging provides the right information and context to get its customers closer to that goal.

Beyond the information shared with its customers, Georgette Packaging has the potential to impact on a much larger scale. They prioritize clarity in messaging around recyclability, material composition, carbon footprint and other environmental attributes that will expand consumer knowledge around packaging. Through their active social media presence and educational website, they aim to inspire all who touch their packaging to dig in a bit deeper. It is not enough to say a package is “eco-friendly;” Georgette Packaging invites all to join the conversation around how we can improve the sustainability of packaging for the future.

Interview

Sarah Landstreet, Founder + CEO

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Georgette Packaging

Georgette Packaging

Kitchener, Ontario, CA

Business Website: https://www.georgettepackaging.com/

Year Founded: 2013

Number of Employees: 11 to 50

Georgette Packaging offers sustainable, customized packaging solutions that help drive brand identity. They source and design attention-grabbing packaging while maintaining focus on reducing waste, supporting local manufacturing, and offsetting carbon emissions. Georgette Packaging is disrupting a traditionally wasteful industry with solutions that invite their customers (and their customers' customers) into the conversation about reducing environmental impact.