Merck

SMASH Packaging Progress

Our SMASH Packaging Plan is our approach to drive improvement in the sustainability of our packaging.

Below is an update on our 2022 actions and results. You can also download a copy of our 2022 Annual Update. We are committed to continuously improving packaging sustainability and will share our new ambitions for the next generation of SMASH Packaging.

The following system is used to indicate a qualitative status of our progress toward each of target:

Not Started On Track | Focus Required | Off Track | Achieved


shrink

SHRINK – REDUCE AMOUNT OF PACKAGING

Our aim is to eliminate the use of packaging that is excessive in size or weight which unnecessarily consumes more resources, increases energy use and air emissions during transportation. Excess packaging is also undesirable for our customers since there are costs associated with the management and disposal of the packaging.

New product packaging aligned with our standards for weight and volume (On Track)

Top line results

53% of new product development projects aligned with packaging standards for weight and volume as of 2022.

Further background on results

We’re now able to holistically measure sustainability characteristics of new product packaging, using our Design for Sustainability scorecard.

2022 Key Highlights

  • In October 2022, we officially implemented our new Design for Sustainability framework and scorecard in our Product Development Processes with specific packaging aspects to consider, including one on the amount of packaging. Associated with our new packaging sustainability standards and guidelines, this will help our development teams to minimize the amount of packaging for our new products. Moving forward, we'll see transformational results due to these systematic changes that we've implemented for new product packaging.

20 key improvement projects for existing packaging (Achieved)

Top line results

20+ product and distribution packaging improvement projects resulting in a total annual reduction of 300+ metric tons of corrugated and plastic packaging.

Further background on results

We have achieved significant improvement in reducing the amount of packaging. As we continue to implement some of these projects, we continue our efforts to systematically address key contributors to maximize the impact of each project.

2022 Key Highlights

  • We completed the development of new bulk packaging solutions for a subset of our  Millistak+® HC Pro and Clarisolve® Pod Depth Filters and Viresolve® Pod Prefilters, that will allow us to reduce the amount of corrugated packaging per unit by between 43% to 60% per unit depending on the reference. It will also increase the number of units per pallet from 14% to 33%, depending on the product. These bulk packaging solutions also reduce the time needed for customers to open, inspect, label, store and dispose of shipping materials.
  • We completed the validation of a subset of our Milliflex Oasis® Media Plates for their storage and shipment at room temperature instead of cold conditions. At just one of our European distribution centers, this change will allow us to avoid approximately 3 metric tons of EPS and 41 metric tons of ice bricks annually.
  • We developed an internal waste reduction solution for transferring material from our bulk containers to individual bottles. This project completely avoids the use of septas (a piece of rubber that provides a seal to protect the interior of the bottle from external contaminants), and instead purging and filling the bottle all in one step thanks to a newly designed mechanism. This new design is being tested in one of our largest filling facilities, with plans to expand to all similar facilities. This is expected to avoid 450,000 septas annually, saving around 2,400 kg of rubber annually.

20% reduction of air space in distribution boxes (Focus Required)

Top line result

53% air space reduction on average for 1,300 daily shipments, due to several improvement projects.

Further background on results

It is important to note that the percentage of air space reduction achieved does not represent a global reduction across all distribution packaging—rather, this represents the amount of air space reduced in the projects we implemented.
Our goal of reducing 20% of our air space shipped in distribution boxes has not been met due to high complexity and diversity of site operations and available data. We have made positive strides towards reducing air space, especially in the packaging of small products through an initiative we call “Packaging for Smalls”. We have made additional progress by defining a methodology to drive a reduction of air space more systematically across our packaging, with further engaging with our distribution centers to implement these improvements.


2022 Key Highlights

  • We completed the development and validation of a new smaller packaging solution for the shipment of individual 1L bottles and other products from one of our distribution centers in Europe. While the implementation of this new solution was delayed due to required adjustment of our conveyors system to manage properly this new box, it will allow to reduce air space by 46% for about 40,000 shipments annually and avoid about 4.4 metric tons of fiber-based packaging materials.
  • We've been working with sites individually to understand their local opportunities to improve. We've also worked with an external partner to investigate our distribution landscape and recommend areas of improvement. Some examples we're investigating are shipping non-hazardous goods in mailers/pouches, reevaluating packaging procedures for optimal box selection, and starting an air space quality check. At one U.S. site, we replaced plastic mailers with paper mailers for non-hazardous goods, avoiding approximately 1,100kg of plastic annually.

shrink

Secure - Achieve Zero-Deforestation

Deforestation is a significant source of global warming and is a threat to biodiversity. Our aim is to ensure that the wood and fiber-based packaging materials that we use do not contribute to deforestation.

New product packaging aligned with our zero deforestation standards (On Track

Top line results

68% of new product development projects aligned with packaging standards for zero-deforestation as of 2022. 

Further background on results

We’re now able to holistically measure sustainability characteristics on new product packaging, using our Design for Sustainability scorecard.  

2022 Key Highlights

  • In October 2022, we officially implemented our new Design for Sustainability framework and scorecard in our Product Development Processes with specific packaging aspects to consider, including one on our zero-deforestation initiative. Associated with our new packaging sustainability standards and guidelines, this will help our development teams to ensure that our new product packaging do not contribute to deforestation. Moving forward, we'll see transformational results due to these systematic changes that we've implemented for new product packaging.

 

90% of existing packaging aligned with our zero deforestation standards (Focus Required)

 

100% of packaging from deforestation-risk countries certified sustainably sourced (Focus required)

Top line results

72.5% of existing packaging materials sourced directly aligned with our zero-deforestation standards.

Further background on results

While we haven't been able to achieve our ambitious goal of reaching 90% of existing packaging aligned with our zero-deforestation standards, we've made progress. We implemented an annual assessment process to measure the level of alignment of our packaging materials with our zero-deforestation standards and we have converted some of our existing packaging to sustainably sourced packaging.

We have also implemented zero-deforestation requirements in for new or re-designed product packaging.

Moving forward, we will continue to refine our assessment methodology, such that our process goes beyond sustainable forestry certification and using recycled content.

2022 Key Highlights

  • We conducted our annual deforestation assessment among our main wood- and fiber-based packaging suppliers, who represent 99% of our total direct spend to assess sourcing practices, the sustainability characteristics of our packaging materials, and identify opportunities for improvement.
  • 72.5% of the materials sourced directly for packing and shipping products are currently aligned with our zero deforestation standards. This represents a 10% increase over the course of four years.
  • We pursued efforts to engage with our vendors to continuously increase the coverage of our deforestation assessment process and the level of alignment of our packaging materials with our zero deforestation standards.
  • One of our distribution centers in Europe changed 35 metric tons of paper-based packaging to material with sustainable forestry certification. 

shrink

Switch – Improve Plastic Sustainability

Conventional plastic packaging has several sustainability issues associated with it. Our aim is to improve sustainability of plastic materials used in packaging applications, including increasing the use of materials with lower environmental impacts and reducing the use of plastics produced with chemicals of concern.

New product packaging aligned with our plastic sustainability standards (On Track)

Top line results

48% of new product development projects aligned with packaging standards for plastic sustainability as of 2022.

Further background on results

We’re now able to holistically measure sustainability characteristics on new product packaging, using our Design for Sustainability scorecard.

2022 Key Highlights

  • In October 2022, we officially implemented our new Design for Sustainability framework and scorecard in our Product Development Processes with specific packaging aspects to consider , including one on the sustainability characteristics of plastic packaging. Associated with our new packaging sustainability standards and guidelines, this will help our development teams to optimize sustainability characteristics of new products’ plastic packaging components. Moving forward, we'll see transformational results due to these systematic changes that we've implemented for new product packaging.

20 improvement projects to replace existing plastic packaging by more sustainable solutions (Achieved)

Top line results

20+ product packaging improvement projects and distribution packaging improvement initiatives with projects at multiple locations. 

Further background on results

We've completed several new product packaging improvement projects at our sites around the world to use more sustainable packaging materials. As we continue to implement some of these projects, we continue to explore and implement new projects, focusing on packaging materials that have the highest carbon footprint.

2022 Key Highlights

  • We increased the sustainability of plastic air cushions used to pack products in one of our distribution centers in Europe. Three references of PE air cushions have been replaced by 3 new cushions with thinner plastic foil, one of which additionally containing 50% recycled material. These changes avoid over 9 tons of plastic and 26 tons of CO2eq annually.
  • We replaced polyvinyl chloride (PVC) material in thermoformed blisters with recycled PET (rPET) material in product packaging for liquid testing materials. This change allows us to avoid around 200kg of PVC, and over 450kg of CO2eq annually. This is one more step towards the full elimination of concern PVC in our packaging.

20% reduction of Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) (On Track)

Top line results

23% reduction of EPS, including ongoing replacement projects.

Further background on results

We have initiated multiple EPS replacement projects in our protective packaging and cold chain shipments since 2019. Upon validation and full implementation of all ongoing projects to reduce EPS, we expect to exceed this target.

2022 Key Highlights

  • We completed the development and validation of new design for substitution EPS inserts with paper-based recycled pulp for individual glass bottles with volume of 1L, 1.6L, 2.5L, 4L and 4x1L sets, produced in Europe. The introduction of 200,000+ pulp components for 1.6L, 2.5L and 4L will yield to an annual avoidance of 17.9 tons of EPS and 74.93 tons of CO2eq. Continued implementation of this new pulp design will avoid an additional 500,000 EPS components, or 5 tons of EPS.
  • We completed the validation and started a new pilot implementation of our new greener coolers at one of distribution centers in the U.S. for our 2° to 8°C domestic shipments. This new cooler is made of paper and starch, and is certified recyclable with paper recycling. In parallel, we continued to optimize this solution for dry ice shipments, and kicked off a project in Europe to expand this initiative. With the planned 2023 U.S. expansion, we will reach an annual reduction of 60+ metric tons of EPS, or 4,500+ m3. With the planned EU expansion, we expect to avoid approximately 20 metric tons of EPS, or 1,500m3; In 2024, we plan to expand this initiative to APAC and LATAM distribution centers as well.
  • Selected products are transported from our Strasbourg distribution center to customers using temperature-controlled trucks (15 and 25°C). Such transportation allows us to avoid unnecessary insulating EPS pallets. In 2022, 35% of these EPS pallets were removed from temperature-controlled truck shipments, saving 21.5 tons or 860 m3 of EPS. 

shrink

Save – Maximize Recycling

Our aim is to maximize recycling of our packaging materials by eliminating the use of packaging materials that are not compatible with recycling and by providing our customers with recycling guidance for all our packaging materials.

New product packaging aligned with our standards for recyclability (On Track)

Top line results

53% of new product development projects aligned with packaging standards for recyclability as of 2022.

Further background on results

We’re now able to holistically measure sustainability characteristics on new product packaging, using our Design for Sustainability scorecard.

2022 Key Highlights

  • In October 2022, we officially implemented our new Design for Sustainability framework and scorecard in our Product Development Processes with specific packaging aspects to consider , including one on our zero-deforestation initiative. Associated with our new packaging sustainability standards and guidelines, this will help our development teams to optimize recyclability of new products packaging components. Moving forward, we'll see transformational results due to these systematic changes that we've implemented for new product packaging.

100% of fiber-based packaging not compatible with recycling (Focus Required)

Top line results

Identified and addressed two primary impact areas where fiber-based packaging was not compatible with recycling.


Further background on results

2 main situations of fiber-based packaging solutions not compatible with recycling have been identified and addressed. One was the use of non-recyclable edge protectors that were replaced by 100% paper-based alternative and the second one was the used of specific coating for some of our product boxes for which testing of alternative coatings are currently in progress.

2022 Key Highlights

  • We've identified more product boxes where protective coatings are applied over the printing that make the box no longer recyclable. We are working with our supplier to test different coatings and box designs to remove the box coating without sacrificing the box functionality or fidelity. We aim to find a solution that works for all found boxes currently using this coating so that all product boxes can be replaced in 2023.

100% of products with packaging recycling/disposal guidance (Focus Required)

Top line results

We’ve provided recycling information and disposal guidance for our main packaging materials.

Further background on results

We’ve made recycling information for our packaging materials available as part of a packaging catalog. Currently available for Italian customers, we are working to expand to our main markets in Europe, to the US and to our main markets in APAC.
In parallel, we will work to make this information available at the product level.

2022 Key Highlights

  • To facilitate recycling, we have catalogued packaging materials for all our packaging, with specific recycling guidance for Italy. We continue to establish guidance for other geographies as well, with the goal to make this globally available.  
Sign In To Continue

To continue reading please sign in or create an account.

Don't Have An Account?