Sustainability is More Than Meets the Eye

Sustainability is More Than Meets the Eye

By Ron Cotterman, Vice President of Sustainability, Sealed Air

Ron Cotterman, ViceoPresident of Sustainability at Sealed Air

Thursday, October 8, 2015 - 1:45pm

CAMPAIGN: Sealed Air: Benefiting Society

CONTENT: Article

The positive impacts of the solutions Sealed Air delivers for our customers go far beyond what most initially imagine. Yes, our Food Care solutions help extend food freshness, our Product Care solutions help deliver products without damage, and our Diversey Care solutions help our customers keep their operations clean and running efficiently. But we are taking an increasingly deeper look at the full life cycle of our solutions to understand how Sealed Air’s diverse businesses impact not just our customers, but the world where we live and work.

During a recent trip to Indonesia, I had the opportunity to participate in one of our programs that exemplifies our sustainability work and the impact Sealed Air can make in local communities. My colleagues took me to Batam, an island about 12 miles south of Singapore, to see the benefits of our Soap for Hope (S4H) program. We partner with our customers to gather soap from hotel rooms that would otherwise be discarded, teach local communities to reprocess them into new bars, and distribute these new bars to people who otherwise might not have access to soap. S4H reduces costs and environmental impacts of transportation as compared to other soap recycling programs by decentralizing the reprocessing to local communities near partner hotels. These communities then benefit not just from increased access to basic hygiene but also by new job opportunities the program provides by training locals in the soap making process.

In Batam I saw a team of 11 women, all mothers with young children, converting used soap into new bars that could be shared in their village. They invited me to join them and I spent time learning the process and making a few new bars. Later, I helped distribute these new bars to children, who each touched their foreheads to my hand as a sign of gratitude when receiving the soap. Reflecting on my time in Batam, I thought of how a simple initiative such as S4H could have such a profound impact.

S4H provides the entire village with enough soap for their own use, helping to improve hygiene and sanitation. The program also reduces waste, and by keeping production local, reduces unnecessary environmental impacts. S4H program is just one very real and powerful example of how Sealed Air partners with customers to develop healthy environments and enhance livelihoods in communities where we live and work.

As we continue on our sustainability journey, now further defined by our 2020 Sustainability Goals and A Better Way for Life Plan, we will continue to partner with local communities where we do business. We know that sustainability efforts in our operations are important in reducing waste, water and energy use, but we must look across the life cycle of our products and understand Sealed Air’s deeper impact. For example, food packaging that extends shelf life can contribute to food security and reduced food waste. Access to soap and basic hand hygiene can improve the health of many people suffering from sickness or disease. Developing packaging that delivers a delicate product safely the first time reduces the environmental impacts that would occur if something needed to be returned, repackaged and shipped again.

We know that for our business to be successful our solutions must meet the unique business challenges our customers face. But we also believe that for our company to be successful in the long term, we need to meet the unique challenges the world faces.  Soap for Hope is just one example of how our strategy plays out, but there are many more. By focusing on our 2020 Sustainability Goals, working with our diverse group of partners, and looking for solutions that go beyond what first meets the eye, we are confident we are on our way to delivering A Better Way for Life.  Experience Soap for Hope firsthand by viewing this video that was taken during my trip to Batam.  You can learn more about our other programs improving lives in the communities we serve, and the success our customers are experiencing with us by viewing our annual sustainability report at