With a New Box Design for Sam’s Club

Honest Tea was sustainable before sustainability was cool. Even amidst the dot-com boom in 1998, Honest Tea placed social responsibility front and center in its mission to produce great-tasting, truly healthy and organic ready-to-drink bottled teas. Its brand promise was to “strive to create healthy and honest relationships with its customers, suppliers, and the environment.”

By 2002, Honest Tea was the best-selling bottled tea brand in the entire natural channel, with seven of the top-selling varieties. As a category, organic products have been more robustly introduced into club and warehouse shopping venues in the U.S. and Europe. Increased attention has been placed on the large, multi-serve packaging such outlets require for their shelves.

With less than half the sugar of competing beverages, Honest Kids was an ideal warehouse store offering for families looking to buy healthy and organic on a budget. Sam’s Club was enthusiastic about the offering, but less so about the packaging: 24 individual drink pouches housed within three separate cartons (eight in each carton) all shrink-wrapped together. The membership-only warehouse retailer requested that Honest Tea search for a more shelf-appealing, consumer-friendly, and material-light way to package the Honest Kids products they were so eager to sell.

Seth Goldman, CEO of Honest Tea, saw this as an opportunity. “If you do it right, you should be able to make the package more attractive and sustainable,” Goldman says. “We took a big step back to look at the packaging.”

Honest Tea knew about Georgia-Pacific’s capabilities and the company’s strong compliance culture, which closely aligned with Honest Tea’s own focus on social responsibility. So the company engaged Georgia-Pacific’s experts in its Packaging Systems Optimization (PSOTM) program to develop a better club-store box.

Georgia-Pacific’s PSO program is a rigorous, five-step process where a team of packaging engineers analyze a company’s entire packaging supply chain, focusing on areas such as design, material optimization, shelf impact and SKU consolidation, as well as line productivity, material handling and distribution. Georgia-Pacific and its subsidiary Color-Box®, a leader and innovator in sustainable high graphic packaging, were able to create a packaging solution that pleased both Honest Tea and Sam’s Club with its increased shelf appeal, reduced material use, and reduced carbon footprint—ensuring nationwide distribution of the Honest Kids Variety Pack.

The new packaging features one litho-laminated B flute box for 24 pouches. The material is thin but strong enough to withstand the demands of pallet stacking. In addition, its six-color, aqueous coated exterior was perfect for the larger-scale display demands of Sam’s Club. The new secondary packaging is 41% lighter; is made with 35% post-consumer waste; the handle is made with 45% post-consumer waste; annually reduces fiber use by 1,200 tons; eliminates 2,600 tons of carbon dioxide emissions; and saves nearly 12,369 BTUs of energy per year.

Goldman was equally impressed with the reduced weight and materials as he was with the excellent, clean billboard presentation of the new packaging. Getting all the messaging and variety information on each panel is very desirable for the club-store pallet display environment. Pat Smorch, director of packaging sustainability at Georgia-Pacific, explains that the Honest Kids Variety Pack is palletized with 33 cases per layer stacked four layers high for a total of 132 cases per pallet.

“The retailers all have unique requirements,” says Smorch, explaining how the PSO process takes into account the many drivers in design, materials, and shipping. “Today, sustainability is becoming more integrated into those drivers to meet retailer requirements and consumer demands,” Smorch says.

Honest Tea Practices What It Preaches
Honest Tea was sustainable before sustainability was cool. Even amidst the dot-com boom in 1998, Honest Tea placed social responsibility front and center in its