Testing as a Demonstration of Minimum Use of Packaging: ISTA tests establish lower limits for packaged-product performance, but in general do not set upper limits.  Therefore, used in their most straightforward pass/fail fashion, ISTA tests do little to detect over-packaging situations.  However, with the addition of a reduce to damage or pass with minimum margin approach, ISTA testing can be used for the demonstration of minimum use of packaging.  Reduce to damage means that if a packaged-product passes the test it must be redesigned with less packaging and tested again until an optimum level is reached. The Reduce to Damage approach is an essential component of an effort to make packaging more sustainable (as described in the Responsible Packaging by Design process guideline. Pass with minimum margin might involve subjecting a packaged-product which has passed the test to increased severity levels, determining when damage does occur, and then verifying that those levels are not overly excessive.

A reduce to damage or pass with minimum margin protocol employing screening tests should be used with extreme caution.  Since screening tests may not well represent actual field exposure in either intensity or type, the tests cannot be readily shown or proven to have a good relationship to the field damage.  Using screening tests can perhaps be effective if coupled with a program of field monitoring and feedback after package redesign.  But the far better approach is to use tests which provide a good actual simulation of the distribution hazards.

Responsible Packaging by Design (RPbD)

ISTA has developed a sustainable (responsible) packaging process guideline which provides rationale for sustainable packaging, recommended sustainable packaging metrics and standardized process guidance (including recommended templates) for organizing and documenting a complete sustainable packaging development program. A training course for the application and execution of this process guideline is available from ISTA, click here.

Learn more about RPbD