Green Package awards: beyond the package award & innovator of the year award

Vanguard Packaging & Display


In November 2009, Vanguard Packaging moved into a brand new 250,000 square foot manufacturing facility. Throughout every step of designing and building our new facility, careful attention has been paid to lowering Vanguard Packaging's carbon footprint. From the moment we started considering a move, our number one goal has been to create the most sustainable corrugate manufacturing facility in North America. We believe we have achieved this goal. Following are some highlights of our new facility:

Our new facility is located underground in a limestone cave. Originally mined for limestone, the mine has been converted into an industrial facility over the last 30 years. With 130 feet of limestone between Vanguard and the earth's surface, we have the most natural and most effective insulation possible.

Furthermore, the main structure of our building (ceiling, wall, structural support, etc) required absolutely no construction or construction materials. Because of the geothermal properties of the earth and the natural insulation qualities of the limestone, we have zero costs to heat our facility during the winter, and extremely minimal cooling costs in the summer. We estimate that a comparable above ground facility would spend $50,000 a month during the winter months to heat their facility. We avoid both the expense and carbon footprint associated with an above ground facility.

The entirety of our ceiling and structure of the facility, as well as the majority of the walls, are naturally occurring limestone. This had a profound effect on the amount of building materials and labor required to build our new facility. We estimate that a comparable above ground facility would require 200-300% more building materials to construct.

Furthermore, we have additional savings because we won't have future replacements of materials we never used in the first place. For instance, by using polished concrete floors instead of carpeting in much of our office area, we avoided using 10,041 square feet of carpet. Not only do we have this initial savings, in the future we avoid subsequent carpet consumption as carpet replacement will be unnecessary. In similar fashion, the majority of our office has natural limestone ceilings, only in select areas did we use a drop ceiling. This avoided the need for 4,114 square feet of ceiling tile (and all future replacements of the ceiling tiles).


We do not use petroleum based inks for our in-house printing. Instead, we use inks that are produced from pine tree rosin, a byproduct of the paper pulp making process. We also have started blending our inks on-site. Our ink blending system has allowed us to ship in large containers of generic colors that we blend to our specific needs. This has reduced our ink shipments from 3 times per week to twice a month.

Effective Recovery

We have begun to participate in an Alternative Solid Fuel (ASF) program. The majority of our waste that is not recyclable does not go into a landfill. Instead it is sent to the power plant of a cement manufacturer about 3 miles away. They burn our waste as fuel for their plant, and then mix the ashes from the burn back into the cement. In fact, some of the new floors in our facility actually contain our old waste. The power plant that burns the waste is subject to the same environmental regulations as if they were burning any other source of fuel, but the environment saves on the carbon footprint associated with mining and transporting of coal. Between recycling and our ASF program, in the last 6 months Vanguard has reclaimed 92% of our waste stream. This is impressive, especially considering that we had 20 years of "waste" to dispose when we moved out of our old facility. With the move behind us, we anticipate that our waste reclamation rate will jump to above 95%.

Material Health

We treat all process waste water on-site before it is discharged back into the public sewage system. We use a clay-based separating agent to pull inks and oils out of our water. The clay-based system avoids the use of additional chemicals that could be harmful to our employees or the environment.

Resource & Energy Optimization

Our new facility uses highly-efficient motion activated T-5 lighting. Not only does this make our manufacturing facility better lit (safer, happier) but it also drastically reduces our electrical consumption. When we moved, we added an automated conveyor system, an automated trim collection system and a new Maramatsu die-cutter to our new facility. Despite these additions to our electrical demand, we have seen a 13% drop in electrical consumption in our new facility. This is no small task for a company that already considered themselves to be an efficient and conscientious consumer of electricity, especially considering the additional demands of the new machinery.

Our facilities central US location and proximity to major rail and highways (less than 2 miles) greatly reduces energy associated with freight.

Categories: Facility/Process Greener Package Award Winner