Certificate of Sustainable Packaging
Dr. Julie Suggs
Dr. Andrew Hurley

Program Description: 

Students in this 40-hour workshop delivered over 10 weeks will redesign a package for sustainability through applying a four-phase process:

  • Define the key terminology a learner needs to speak the language of sustainability with colleagues and customers
  • Construct UN-based sustainability targets and goals
  • Develop sustainable system designs (on the material level)
  • Measure the carbon footprint of their packaging
  • Select relevant offset programs to achieve carbon neutrality at a per product/package
  • Assess your environmental performance criteria through a license to cutting-edge sustainability tools (ISO 14040 compliant life cycle analysis software) into your concept development and material selection steps of packaging design

Office Hours:

Optional office hours available for all students to be scheduled with an instructor via Zoom. Email Dr. Suggs to set up an appointment.


info@packagingschool.com for general inquiries and learning management system issues, julie@packagingschool.com for content related questions. 

Program Modality: 

Asynchronous learning will be deployed, meaning that the instructor and the students in the course all engage with the course content at different times (and from different locations). As each assignment is completed, the instructors will guide the students, provide them with feedback, and make assessments as needed on assignments and activities. 

Contact Hours: 40 hours 

Method of Instruction: 

Instruction will consist of online pre-recorded lectures, presentations, downloadable PDFs,

practical exercises/assignments, knowledge checks, discussion, and surveys. While everything is online, housed within a learning management system, online office hours will be provided upon request. 

Required Materials: 

  • Package to be improved
  • General office materials such as tape, scissors, paper, cardstock, printer, computer
  • Internet access

Recommend Materials: 

Program Requirements: 

All students are expected to:

  1. Maintain regular attendance (e.g., login to courses and complete them within the 12- month assess time) 
  2. Complete assigned work  
  3. Take part in class discussions as applicable
  4. Take all tests and exams given (see grading policy below) 

Topics within the Program:

  1. Program Introduction
  2. Disclaimer (PDF): Summarize the educational aspects of this program
  3. Welcome! (Video): Discuss the learning objectives and overarching goals of this program
  4. Sustainability Module 1 
  5. Navigation Tutorial (Video): Identify how to use the learning management system (LMS)
  6. Sustainable Packaging Workbook (PDF): Downloadable note-taking document to use while completing this course
  7. Introduction to Sustainability (Video): Brief explanation of sustainability and an overview of the following course
  8. Defining Sustainable Packaging (Video): Explanation of how to define and measure sustainability
  9. Sustainability Definition Starter Kit (PDF):  Classify key  terminology in the sustainability space  
  10. Packaging and the Waste Stream (Infographic): The entire life cycle of the garbage we produce - from disposal or recycling to the next stages - landfilling, energy production or repurposing
  11. Perceptions and Realities of Sustainability (Video): Differentiating via packaging waste, recycling, and packaging realities
  12. Sustainability Orientation - Let's Get to Know Each Other! (Discussion): Students introduce themselves and what they are hoping to get from the course
  13. Sustainability Module 2
  14. Introduction to Frameworks (Video): Overview of the terms linear model, circular module, and cradle to grave
  15. Cradles and Graves (Presentation): The cradle to grave model defines the beginning and the end of the packaging system
  16. Green Engineering (Video): In depth discussion of the 12 principles of green engineering
  17. The Circular Economy (Video): Elements, design, and flow of the circular economy
  18. Knowledge Check: Frameworks (Quiz, 5 questions): Helps retain learnings from Frameworks
  19. Sustainability Module 3
  20. Introduction to Materials (Video): Overview of the materials lesson
  21. Paperboard (Video): Explanation of the sustainable forestry cycle
  22. Glass (Video): Aspects of glass recycling including cullet, benefits, challenges, and lightweighting
  23. Metal (Video): Factors include cradle to cradle, shrinking carbon footprints, increased shelf life, easily recycled, sustainable steel, and sustainable aluminum
  24. Plastics (Presentation): The impact of plastics on the environment can be minimized with proper management
  25. Printing and Inks (Presentation): There are many ways to make sustainable design decisions including using less ink and choosing ink without harmful chemicals
  26. Alternative Materials (Video): Sustainable materials include bioplastics; cellophane; bamboo, mushroom, and sugarcane packaging; and palm and reed fiber
  27. Packaging School's Guide to Edible Packaging (Presentation): Overview of the current state of the industry of edible packaging
  28. Material Trade-offs with Dr. Hurley (Video): discuss the collaboration between various stakeholders when working toward sustainable packaging solutions and assess the trade-offs that exist in the sustainable packaging sector
  29. Knowledge Check: Materials (Quiz, 3 questions): Helps retain learnings from materials
  30. Sustainability Module 4
  31. Introduction to Analysis & Reporting (Video): Overview of the following lesson
  32. Environmental Footprint (Video): Policies and standards push companies to reduce environmental impact and create a sustainable footprint
  33. Analysis Software (Text): Analysis software tools step in to help companies see how their system affects the environment
  34. Life Cycle Analysis (Presentation): Measurement of the sustainability of a product or system through quantitative and objective methodologies regulated by the ISO 14040
  35. ISO 14000 Explained (Presentation):  Discusses this standard that supports innovation and provides solutions to global challenges. 
  36. Corporate Goals and Reporting (Text): A look at three real companies that are trying to reduce their environmental impact
  37. Knowledge Check: Analysis & Reporting (Quiz, 5 questions): Helps retain learnings from analysis and reporting
  38. Sustainability Module 5 
  39. Introduction to Design Guidelines (Video): Overview of the following lesson
  40. FTC Green Guides (Presentation): FTC labeling guides have set specified rules and regulations for companies to meet in order to market their product as green
  41. FTC Green Guides with Dr. Hurley (Video): Describe the mission of FTC and the goal of the green guides, summarize the green guide review process, and utilize the green guide online 
  42. Labeling Principles (Presentation): Certifications such as ISO 14020 are necessary so companies do not mislead the consumer
  43. APR Design Guide for Plastics Recyclability (Presentation): Includes resin codes, APR recyclability categories, and test method categories
  44. Sustainable Design Checklist (Assignment): A cooperative tool to help determine the environmental profile of your package
  45. Knowledge Check: Design Guidelines (Quiz, 4 questions): Helps retain learnings from design guidelines
  46. Sustainability Module 6
  47. Introduction to Case Studies (Video): Overview of specific company case studies we will look at
  48. Value Engineering (Video)): Timeline of Nike's shoe box design changes
  49. Biomimicry (Video): Vitalis water bottles mimic nature so as to be both visually appealing and consume less energy in production
  50. eCommerce (Video)): Amazon is committed to frustration free packaging that uses less packaging material and The Honest Company has developed a lightweight, reusable solution to their household cleaning product packaging
  51. Designing for Reuse (Video): Heineken has developed a reusable bottle and there is a doll package that repurposes the packaging into a toy boat
  52. A Sustainable Labeling Approach (Video): Onsite interview with UPM Raflatac to discuss their sustainable approach
  53. Sustainability Module 7
  54. UN SDGs Introduction: (Video): Overview of the module ahead
  55. UN SDG 1 - No Poverty (Video): Discuss UN SDG with examples and applications 
  56. UN SDG 2 - Zero Hunger (Video): Discuss UN SDG with examples and applications 
  57. UN SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-Being (Video): Discuss UN SDG with examples and applications 
  58. UN SDG 4 - Quality Education (Video): Discuss UN SDG with examples and applications 
  59. UN SDG 5 - Gender Equality (Video): Discuss UN SDG with examples and applications 
  60. UN SDG 6 - Clean Water and Sanitation (Video): Discuss UN SDG with examples and applications 
  61. UN SDG 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy (Video): Discuss UN SDG with examples and applications 
  62. UN SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth (Video): Discuss UN SDG with examples and applications 
  63. UN SDG 9 - Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure (Video): Discuss UN SDG with examples and applications 
  64. UN SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities (Video): Discuss UN SDG with examples and applications 
  65. UN SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities (Video): Discuss UN SDG with examples and applications 
  66. UN SDG 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production (Video): Discuss UN SDG with examples and applications 
  67. UN SDG 13 - Climate Action (Video): Discuss UN SDG with examples and applications 
  68. UN SDG 14 - Life Below Water (Video): Discuss UN SDG with examples and applications 
  69. UN SDG 15 - Life on Land (Video): Discuss UN SDG with examples and applications 
  70. UN SDG 16 - Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions (Video): Discuss UN SDG with examples and applications 
  71. UN SDG 17 - Partnerships for the Goals (Video): Discuss UN SDG with examples and applications 
  72. UN SDGs Conclusion (Video): Summarize the 17 goals and how they can apply to your organization at large 
  73. Sustainability Module 8
  74. How to Upcycle and Reuse Your Packaging  (Video): Discuss fun ways you can reuse your packaging 
  75. Brand Sustainability Guidelines Webinar (Video): Discuss the following companies  sustainability goals:  Silgan Containers, Berry Plastics, Owens-Illinois, Clorox, Target, Costco, Coca-Cola, P&G, Nestle, Kraft Heinz, and Mondelez
  76. EPR for Packaging Webinar (Video): Objectively present elements of EPR for educational purposes only—what we discuss should not be interpreted as legal advice 
  77. German Recycling Machines (Video): Highlight a recycling machine in Germany 
  78. Sustainability Module 9
  79. Apply What You Learned (Forum): Apply what you have learned by grabbing something within your immediate surroundings and answer the following questions using four of the concepts that you have learned within the sustainability course
  80. Experiential Learning: Redesign Explanation (Assignment): Based on your learnings from the course and experience within your role at your company, choose a packaging system (e.g., dunnage, tape, corrugated box, etc.) that you want to improve and write a 200 word explanation on why this package needs to be redesigned. 
  81. Goal Setting Module 1
  82. Innovation and Product Lifecycle (Video): Examine the innovation life cycle 
  83. Let's Collaborate (Discussion): Discuss and respond to your peers about an example of authentic innovation in the packaging space
  84. Goal Setting Module 2 
  85. Four Types of Packaging Innovation (Video): Compare and contrast the four types of packaging innovation using examples in the industry
  86. Packaging Examples (Assignment): Choose packaging examples to fit each type of innovation method
  87. Goal Setting Module 3 
  88. The Seven-Step Innovation Process (Video): Analyze our seven-step process that you can use as a foundation for your own innovation process within your organization
  89. Knowledge Check (Quiz, 5 questions): Helps retain learnings from this innovation process
  90. Goal Setting Module 4 
  91. Authentic Sustainable innovation and Greenwashing (Video): Differentiate between authentic sustainable innovation and greenwashing
  92. Knowledge Check (Quiz, 5 questions): Helps retain learnings from these topics
  93. Goal Setting Module 5
  94. Your Internal Strategy (Video): Examine examples of how to bring our seven-step process to life
  95. SCAMPER Process (Video): Discuss this brainstorming using packaging examples 
  96. Idea Box (Video): Discuss this brainstorming using packaging examples 
  97. Force Think (Video): Discuss this brainstorming using packaging examples 
  98. Brain Writing (Video): Discuss this brainstorming using packaging examples 
  99. SCAMPER Exercise (Assignment): Use the SCAMPER brainstorming method to generate ideas for your improved packaged product 
  100. Goal Setting Module 5
  101. Umbrella Stand Example (Video): Examine one last example of an overpackaged umbrella stand
  102. Sustainable Innovation Template (Assignment): Use the sustainable innovation worksheet template to expand on your package redesign idea 
  103.  Protype Your Work (Assignment): Create your new and improved design using resources available to you (if these are not available to you, a sketch or series of images works).
  104. Carbon Workshop Module 1
  105. Definition and Crediting (Video): Discuss the basics of carbon neutrality: carbon credits, carbon offsets, carbon trading, and examples in the industry
  106. Knowledge Check (Quiz, 5 questions): Helps retain learnings from these topics
  107. Carbon Workshop Module 2
  108. Measurement and Application (Video): Identify tools to measure and assess your carbon footprint
  109. Knowledge Check (Quiz, 4 questions): Helps retain learnings from these topics
  110. Carbon Workshop Module 3
  111. Packaging Carbon Dioxide Equivalents and Offset Strategies (Video): Examine carbon dioxide equivalents in packaging, industry calculators, and offset strategies
  112. Let's Collaborate (Discussion): Discuss and respond to your peers about the idea of offsetting carbon in your organization
  113. Carbon Workshop Module 4
  114. Purchasing Carbon Credits (Presentation): Summarize the basics of carbon credits: carbon credits vs. carbon offsets, purchasing as an individual or business, and carbon investment opportunities
  115. Carbon Workshop Module 5
  116. The Seven Step Process (Video): Apply the process of outline carbon equivalents and offset strategies 
  117. Carbon Workshop Module 6
  118. Calculating Your Packaging Carbon Footprint (PDF): Summarize resources to aid you in the calculation process
  119. Carbon Equivalents and Offset Strategies: Filled Template Example (PDF): Showcase an example using the seven step process
  120. Carbon Equivalents and Offset Strategies (Assignment): Apply the seven step process worksheet to your packaged product 
  121. Thoughts from a Lawyer (Presentation): Summarize overarching legal issues to consider when investigating sustainable practices 
  122. Life Cycle Analysis Module 1
  123. Before Your Begin (Directions): Instruct on how to sign up for the life cycle analysis software 
  124. Using COMPASS (Video): Discuss the basics of the this software: definitions, inputting data, and reporting
  125. Life Cycle Analysis Module 2
  126. Data Entry (Video): Use a packaging scenario to learn how to  input data
  127. Life Cycle Analysis Module 3
  128. Beginning Your Project (Video): Examine the software at a granular level
  129. Life Cycle Analysis Module 4
  130. Running a Report (Video): Investigate how to run a report on the system at a granular level
  131. Insight from Dr. Hurley (Video): Discuss assumptions and considerations to understand when running a report 
  132. Final Pitch
  133. Experiential Learning: Video Pitch (Assignment): Based on all your findings from the program, come up with a 30 second video pitch on how you plan to implement these changes within your company. 
  134. Conclusion
  135. Program Survey (Survey):  Measure the effectiveness of this program by providing feedback 
  136. Appendix
  137. Additional Resources from a Corrugated Expert (Downloadable Assets): Explore resources that will assist you in diving deeper into topics of interest

Resource Requirements: 

The Packaging School requires all students to have access to a computer and at least 3 mbps of internet. Student services will provide students with suggestions as to how to get access to the internet and/or a computer if requested. All other requirements to complete any course or assignment within the Packaging School are embedded in the learning management system. Students will not be asked to purchase any other technology in order to complete the program. The lessons are accessible from any smartphone or tablet. Chrome is the recommended web browser. At this time, students may not download any material for offline viewing unless it is intuitive to do so. Students are responsible for their own computer maintenance.

Academic Integrity Policy: 

Any breach of the principles outlined in the Academic Integrity Statement is considered an act of academic dishonesty.

Academic dishonesty is further defined as:

  1. Giving, receiving, or using unauthorized aid, including the inappropriate use of internet research, in any work submitted to fulfill academic requirements. In examination situations all outside resources must be inaccessible unless otherwise authorized by the instructor;
  2. Plagiarism, which includes the intentional or unintentional copying of language, structure, or ideas of another and attributing the work to one's own efforts;
  3. The use of computer accounts that belong to another person without the permission of the file owner or account owner;

All academic work submitted for grading or to fulfill academic requirements contains an implicit pledge and may contain, at the request of an instructor, an explicit pledge by the student that no unauthorized aid has been received.


If a student(s) has complaints about a course situation, they should first attempt to resolve the situation with the instructor: Dr. Suggs, Julie@packagingschool.com 864-412-5000.

If a resolution cannot be made with the instructor, or if the complaint is about a general school policy over which the instructor has no jurisdiction, then the student(s) may contact the school director for mediation: Drew Felty, CEO Drew@packagingschool.com.

If the complaint cannot be resolved at the school level through its complaint procedure, students may contact the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education. The form to contact the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education is available on the Commission's website here: http://www.che.sc.gov/CHE_Docs/AcademicAffairs/License/Complaint_procedures_and_form.pdf.

Grading Policies: 

Students' progress throughout the program is monitored through the Learning Management System (LMS). Courses include multiple knowledge checks and a final exam, which assess the student's comprehension of the course's learning objectives. Knowledge checks are not graded. However, they must be completed. Knowledge checks test retention of the teachings and help the student prepare for the final exam. Passing the course requires an 80% or greater on the final exam. Student completion progress is presented with the completion of every lesson in the LMS. Grades are reported to students at the end of each course and a final grade is submitted upon completion of the final exam. Students are notified by email each week if they have outstanding course material that has not been completed. Transcripts will be held digitally and are considered Permanent Records which are held indefinitely. Attendance is recorded for each login session in the LMS, and all engagement with the program is monitored. 

Grading Scale

0–79% = Fail

80–100% = Pass

Students must pass the final exam in each course in order to successfully complete the course. Students must successfully complete every course in the program's curriculum in order to receive the certificate of completion at the end of the program.

Student Identity Verification:

The Packaging School requires students to set up an account and password in order to access all course work. Students are encouraged to protect their password and account. Only one student per account is permitted. IP addresses are monitored to ensure that students are not sharing their account with individuals in another location. Proctoring software is used during exams to ensure that students are who they say they are. Accredible is used to verify that the same person who completes coursework and assignments receives the certificate and digital badge.

Non-Discrimination Policy:

The Packaging School is committed to providing an environment that is free from discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, or disability in its educational courses and employment practices. If any student, faculty, staff or applicant has a question or concern regarding compliance with this policy, that person may direct the question or concern to Student Services.

Who We Are

The Packaging School brings together the business, art, and science of packaging so you can lead projects, optimize supply chains, increase margins, and develop sustainable solutions.

Our company headquarters are located in Greenville, SC. Please reach out to us at 864-412-5000 or info@packagingschool.com.

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