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Tackling Sustainable Packaging: The Life Science Business of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany Wraps Up Its First Four Years of SMASH Packaging

Tackling Sustainable Packaging: The Life Science Business of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany Wraps Up Its First Four Years of SMASH Packaging

Published 08-01-23

Submitted by MilliporeSigma

Purple letters that read, "Four years of smash packaging" border a hexagon that highlights a box and various graphics such as scissors and a globe.
MilliporeSigma concludes its first four-year SMASH Packaging plan of driving significant sustainability improvements. In the coming weeks, the company plans to launch the next generation of its SMASH Packaging plan. 


Over 120 distribution points worldwide … 300,000-plus products across a diverse portfolio (in a multitude of shapes and sizes) … specific shipping requirements, such as controlling for temperature, sterile conditions or transportation regulations to ensure safe delivery. Clearly, with these (and more) considerations, optimizing product packaging is a complex task for the Life Science business of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, which operates as MilliporeSigma in the U.S. and Canada. Undaunted, the company rises to this challenge with a holistic, global approach called SMASH Packaging.

In 2019, the company created this four-year plan that defines its strategy for driving significant improvements in packaging sustainability while still exceeding customer expectations. It focuses on four pillars—SHRINK, SECURE, SWITCH, and SAVE—to optimize resources, design for a circular economy, and choose more sustainable materials.

Since SMASH Packaging’s inception, over 100 packaging improvement projects have been completed or are underway. View the company’s detailed progress in its 2022 update.

Key achievements to date under each pillar include the following:

    • Avoiding more than 300 metric tons of packaging due to a variety of projects, including reducing product packaging weight, developing alternative packaging solutions such as bulk packaging and improving its distribution practices.
    • Ensuring 72.5% of the paper-based materials sourced directly for packing and shipping products currently align with zero deforestation standards. This represents an increase of over 800 tons of sustainably sourced packaging over the last four years.
    • Achieving a 23% reduction of Expanded Polystyrene (EPS), also known as Styrofoam. This was made possible by completed and ongoing replacement projects, including replacing glass bottle protective inserts made of EPS with molded pulp inserts and replacing coolers made of EPS with alternative solutions made of paper and starch.
  • SAVE
    • Contributing to a circular economy by making progress on initiatives including the replacement of specific fiber-based packaging not compatible with recycling, developing and implementing processes for the reuse of packaging internally, refining the definition of packaging recycling guidance and improving communication to customers.

With its Design for Sustainability scorecard and framework, MilliporeSigma is able to holistically measure sustainability characteristics of new product packaging. Moving forward, the company expects to see transformational results due to the design-thinking approach it has implemented for new product design packaging.

In the coming weeks, the company will introduce the next generation of SMASH Packaging and will set new goals to continue to improve the sustainability of its packaging, while contributing to Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany’s, global sustainability strategy and its 2030 goals to reduce resource consumption.

To learn more about SMASH Packaging and the company’s other sustainability initiatives, please visit the company’s SSBI webpage.

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