It’s part of our human nature that we like big, bold moves. And it’s no different for businesses. Every business executive has their eye out for the monster acquisition or the game-changing tech innovation. But it’s important for those very same businesses to be open to the realization that sometimes, good things come in small packages. Sometime small, incremental change can be just as impactful as much larger changes. When candy giant Hershey recently relaunched its line of Miniatures Assortment bars, the company decided it would tweak the packages by reducing their metallized paper wrappers by an infinitesimal 0.05 grams.
“It might seem small, but in just one year that equated to more than 271,800 pounds of wrappers saved — that’s enough to fill 11 tractor trailers,” said Laura Renaud, Hershey’s Associate Manager of Corporate Communications. “Cutting our paper use saves 1,957 trees while cutting our aluminum, use and energy to produce it, equates to turning off the electricity for one year in 56 homes.”
This is a move that will be invisible to consumers but will have lasting impact on Hershey’s environmental initiatives. And the company understands that when huge volumes are involved, these small changes can add up quickly to something quite substantial.
“We knew we could make a bigger impact if we looked at the brands and items with large volumes,” Renaud said. Hershey has also been wise in not focusing on one or two products but on analyzing every single item in its production process. The simple truth is that in terms of sustainability, it’s often more beneficial to focus on small, incremental changes in a host of products rather than focus on huge changes to one or two.
The Miniatures wrapper lightweighting is just one of nearly 200 separate sustainability initiatives and projects Hershey has launched. In 2009, the company saved 425,000 pounds of rigid plastic by reducing the weight of its syrup bottles and the following year, it saved 528,000 pounds of rigid plastic by paring down one of its product lines in Mexico.
Every CPG and flexo printer could certainly benefit from this type of introspection. Maybe your company doesn’t need a huge, earth-shattering move. Perhaps it would be better served by hundreds of smaller initiatives that prove the old adage: from small things, big things one day come.