DIRECT – Dynamic Industry Resource - Efficiency Calculation Tool


After either completing a site assessment and/or the use of the DIRECT calculation module, you may have identified issues regarding the packaging materials and systems that are presently used in your company. These could include for example:

  • Packaging on inbound ingredients: a range of different packaging materials and format systems are used to deliver ingredients into your business, resulting in multiple streams that need to be managed for ultimate recycling and waste management.
  • Packaging on outbound products:  a range of packaging materials need to be procured and inventory maintained that are ultimately used to contain and protect your product into the marketplace – what is the efficiency and packaging attributes that support your products?

This packaging page provides guidance and links to reference material to help you review your packaging material and packaging format to ensure you are using the most efficient systems and to opportunities to reduce associated costs.
A gate to gate focus (your operations)
Topics to consider regarding packaging used in your operations:

  • Identify packaging on inbound ingredients used in your company: what are the different types of packaging materials used (e.g., plastic, paper, board, glass) and what formats (e.g., one-way, reusable, returnable, bulk)?
  • Identify packaging material types and formats used for your outbound products
  • Identify waste streams associated with the packaging materials used on site. Observe the material flows generated during the manufacturing process and what needs to be collected for recycling and waste management. A site assessment could assist in identify opportunities. Link to the site assessment tab: click here.

Figure 1: Illustration of the gate to gate approach to packaging








Identify the packaging materials and packaging formats used on inbound ingredients and on outbound products

Use the table provided to identify the packaging type (e.g.: returnable) and packaging material (e.g.: paper, cardboard) in your company. This table can be used to identify packaging on inbound ingredients and on outbound products.


Table 1: identification of packaging materials and packaging formats used on inbound ingredients and on outbound products

Identify opportunities to optimise packaging

From the previous table, your business may consider some opportunities to optimise packaging management and reduce your costs as well as reducing potential environmental impacts generated by the inefficient use of packaging resources.

Questions that may assist in exploring these options are provided below.

Packaging on inbound ingredients

  • How are your inbound ingredients delivered currently and what packaging materials and infrastructure are required?
  • How efficient is this current method of delivery?
  • Are there opportunities to improve efficiencies with alternatives materials or systems? Things to consider include:
    • Larger quantities of inbound ingredients delivered?
    • What are the implications on warehousing and storage?
    • Does this require different transport delivery modes or frequencies?
  • What packaging materials are used on inbound packaging materials that is used to pack your product?

Figure 2: Illustration of new transport scenario to optimise transportation of resources, including packaging



Packaging on outbound product

  • What packaging materials and formats are used to contain your product for distribution into the marketplace?
  • How efficient are these packaging materials and formats for outbound product?
  • Are there alternative technology or packaging machines that could support a new way to pack your products and optimise the packaging materials?
  • Are existing packaging machine frequently failing at packaging properly the products, generating extra wastes?
  • What is required to pack your products in addition to packaging material: vacuum, plastic films rotation, vibrations, heat, cutting? What are the flows needed: electricity, gas, water? Could you optimise those flows (e.g.: using heat from another machine)?

An important consideration is reviewing and assessing packaging options is to understand the potential for the reduction of impact at different stages of the life cycle and that these may be different for different packaging materials and formats. Ensure that any alternative/new scenario proposed does not transfer impacts significantly and are less than the existing system.


Figure 3: Illustration of environmental impact transfer from one life cycle stage to the other of packaging used in scenario


Packaging resources: find more about opportunities concerning packaging in your business
Click on the images to access the websites and find resources.


Australian Packaging Covenant, Website address:


Example of Packaging guides and resources on Australian Packaging Covenant, Website address:














Sustainable Packaging Coalition, Website address:






The ConsumerGoodsForum

Packaging reports from The Consumer Goods Forum, Website address:



INCPEN, Website address:



EUROPEN, Website address:



The Packaging Federation, Website address:



Packaging Resource Listing, access to the report: