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The Responsible Packaging Project began in 2006 as part of Whole Foods Market Green Mission’s Zero Waste Initiative. Tom Wright, Sustainable Bizness Practices working in collaboration with Michael Besancon, Whole Foods Market launched a series of “Responsible Packaging Forums” at the Natural Product Expo’s to engage the organic and natural products industry in an open public dialogue about how to move towards a zero-waste future. In 2014, the Responsible Packaging Project ended as an active collaboration among the previous partners.

The idea behind the Forums was simple:

  • Provide an educational format presenting the best ecological science (systems thinking, cradle-to-cradle, the natural step, etc).
  • Examine current packaging materials and systems; investigate claims, seek transparency.
  • Provide a platform for collaboration and networking to align on common definitions of responsible packaging.
  • Drive design innovation and entrepreneurship in the supply chain.
  • Collaborate on consumer education and infrastructure.

Over four years, ten “Responsible Packaging Forums” were held, hundreds of people attended from across the organic and natural trade including brand managers, packaging designers, operations directors, retail representatives, academics, NGO’s and more.

In 2007, the Sustainable Food Trade Association (SFTA) became involved as a partner on the project, helping to organize content, speakers, and facilitate collaboration.

In 2010, the SFTA assumed leadership of the project, as the NGO that will facilitate the drafting of the Responsible Packaging Guidelines for the Organic Industry as a trade-wide collaborative venture.  SFTA also administers the Responsible Packaging Awards and any ongoing projects.