Improving the global sustainability of product packaging took a meaningful step forward with a new collaboration proposed by The Coca-Cola Company and Michigan State University. Coca-Cola awarded $400,000 to MSU to help establish a new Center for Packaging Innovation and Sustainability, and the Broad School’s Department of Supply Chain Management will be a driving force in the initiative.

In addition to the Broad School, the center will involve the School of Packaging and the College of Engineering. It will provide a platform for both collaborative, nonproprietary research and proprietary work conducted by industry partners, both in partnership with and independent of MSU researchers, to develop innovative packaging solutions that reduce production costs and improve sustainability.

“The collaboration between Coke and MSU’s School of Packaging and Department of Supply Chain Management should yield substantial improvements for the sustainability of the beverage supply chain,” says David Closs, the John H. McConnell Chair in Business Administration and professor of Supply Chain Management. “The combination of improved packaging recyclability along with integrated supply chain processes will make it more effective to develop recyclable containers, provide beverages to consumers, collect used containers, and reprocess them for further use.”

The planned center, to be housed in the MSU School of Packaging, will serve as a think tank for packaging innovation and sustainability and a research and education hub to measure and reduce the environmental impact of packaging. The Coca-Cola grant represents the initiating gift in a campaign to establish the global center.

“The Coca-Cola Company is honored to collaborate with Michigan State University in its quest to bring corporate, academic and packaging professionals together to foster new ideas in sustainable packaging,” said Ingrid Saunders Jones, senior vice president of global community connections for The Coca-Cola Company.

Saunders Jones is well-known to the MSU community. A 1969 MSU graduate (BA, Education), she set up a $1 million endowed scholarship in 2007, part of which supports the Multicultural Business Programs in the Broad School.