(Comparative Packaging Assessment) is a design-phase web application that provides comparative environmental profiles of packaging alternatives based on life cycle assessment metrics and design attributes. helps packaging designers make more informed material selections and design decisions early in the development process. can compare up to four primary and secondary packages and packaging systems, with quick visual guidance on a common set of environmental parameters. assesses packages on resource consumption, emissions, and attributes such as material health, recycled or virgin content, sourcing, and solid waste. COMPASS was developed by the Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC)®, a project of the sustainability nonprofit GreenBlue®. The SPC is an industry working group with over 200 members from across the packaging supply chain, many of whom contributed expertise to the development of COMPASS.

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Who is the audience for ?

was developed for brand owners, packaging designers and engineers.

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How does fit into the packaging design process?

is a design guidance tool that provides information about the environmental profile of a packaging that can inform decisions that are aligned with a company’s overall sustainability goals. The life cycle approach accounts for environmental impacts associated with the materials and processes used to bring packaging to market, and allow decision makers to incorporate environmental parameters along side with economic factors. should be used as part of the design phase to help designers make more informed decisions prior to taking a new package to market.

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What benefits does provide?

offers environmental profile of packaging based on internationally recognized methodologies and consistent data modelling using relevant and credible data sources. The assessment method and data have been thoroughly vetted by independent verification and member companies within the SPC, and supported by the U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). introduces the concept of life cycle thinking. helps incorporate life cycle thinking into packaging decision process and provides information on relevant environmental parameters to evaluate alongside cost parameters. provides flexibility by reporting on a range of criteria, allowing users to understand the tradeoffs of material selection and select options that best fit their company’s overall sustainability objectives. Informed by a wide range of experts, offers a cost effective option compared to custom solutions.

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Getting Started


How do I get started with ?

offers a free trial that is good for one week. To purchase a license, please follow the steps using the Purchase link. Tutorials will be available after signing up.

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My work is confidential, can others view it?

No. Each user account is a unique and secure workspace. We do not store passwords so your work is only visible to you and those with whom you share it.

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Can I share my work with others in my team?

Yes. There are two ways to share your work. The first is to export components from the Component Library to spreadsheets, which can then be imported into another account. The second is to generate a report for the packaging scenarios being tested and share the report via email.

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System Requirements


Where do I download the software?

is a web-based application so there is nothing to download. All you need is a supported web browser.

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What browsers are supported?

The site works best when viewed using Microsoft Internet Explorer 7.0+, Mozilla Firefox 3.0+, Apple Safari 3.0 or Google Chrome. For best performance, JavaScript should be enabled.

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Metrics, Data, and Materials


What life cycle phases are included in ?

contains life cycle impact assessment (LCIA) data from raw material sourcing or extraction, packaging material manufacture, conversion, distribution and end-of-life treatment. Average transportation and purchased electricity within manufacturing and end-of-life phases is also included.

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How Comprehensive can my analysis be in ?

Using the life cycle data for materials and processes one can assess packaging scenarios starting with raw materials all the way to the final disposal for all components used for shelf-ready primary packages, secondary shipper, and tertiary components needed to move the entire packaging system to the distribution center or retail. Each distribution leg can also be accounted for to include additional detail.

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What metrics does use to evaluate packages?

assesses the environmental profiles of packages on the following metrics:

  • Fossil Fuel
  • Water
  • Biotic Resource
  • Mineral
  • Greenhouse Gas
  • Clean Production: Human Impacts
  • Clean Production: Aquatic Toxicity
  • Eutrophication
  • Content (Recycled or Virgin)
  • Sourcing
  • Solid Waste
  • Material Health
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How were the metrics developed?


The metrics development process was guided by the Definition of Sustainable Packaging put forth by the SPC in 2005. The metrics listed above were developed in a participatory stakeholder engagement process that brought together packaging supply chain expertise from the SPC membership, life cycle assessment (LCA) expertise from the SPC and academia, input from government agency and non-government entity. The final set of metrics was assembled from credible and publicly available sources. They were fully vetted and peer reviewed within the process. The diagram on the right illustrates the process.

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What are the data sources for ?

The consumption and emission metrics in are calculated using industry average life cycle inventory that are unit process level data. The U.S. Life-Cycle Inventory (LCI) Database and ecoinvent, a Swiss LCI database, are the main sources of LCI data. Due to a lack of applicable U.S. data in some instances, European data from ecoinvent are used as a proxy until equivalent U.S. data becomes available. Data includes virgin production and recycled production when available. All conversion and end-of-life data are from ecoinvent. For non-European data where proxy European data are used, appropriate electricity grid mix replaces the European electricity (currently applies to U.S. and Canadian data sets).

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How are the data used?


Data are processed in SimaPro, a life cycle assessment (LCA) software, using the assessment method to calculate the impacts of the eight life cycle metrics on a per kilogram basis for each material included in . The life cycle impact assessment (LCIA) results are generated for materials, conversion processes, transportation modes and end-of-life scenarios. The LCIA results tables drive the package level analysis and packaging scenarios evaluation in . The diagram on the right illustrates this process.

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Why does use industry average data?

Industry average data are the most appropriate choice for the comparative, early stage guidance provided by . Using industry average data that are modelled consistently and using comparable boundaries provides a consistent approach to gauge the relative performance of one package design to another based on the packaging functional unit. Another benefit of industry average data is that they also provide a general benchmark against which companies can compare their own specific supply chain performance.

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Which materials are included in ?

  • Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS)
  • Ethyl Vinyl Acetate (EVA)
  • Expanded Polystyrene (EPS)
  • High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE)
  • Linear Low-Density Polyethylene (LLDPE)
  • Low-Density Polyethylene (LDPE)
  • Modified Starch - Mater-bi
  • Nylon 6
  • Polycarbonate
  • Polyester
  • Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET)
  • Polyethylene Terephthalate, Amorphous (PETa)
  • Polylactic Acid Pellet (PLA)
  • Polypropylene (PP)
  • Polystyrene (HIPS)
  • Polystyrene (PS)
  • Polyurethane - flexible (PU)
  • Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)
  • Polyvinylidene Chloride (PVDC)
  • Styrene Acrylonitrile Copolymer (SAN)
  • Bleached Kraft Paper
  • Core Board
  • Corrugated
  • Graphical Paper (from integrated mill)
  • Graphical Paper (from non-integrated mill)
  • Liquid Packaging Board
  • Newsprint paper
  • Recycled Folding Boxboard
  • Solid Bleached Board (SBB)
  • Solid Bleached Sulfate (SBS) Board
  • Solid Unbleached Board (SUB)
  • Solid Unbleached Sulfate (SUS) Board
  • Supercalendered Paper
  • Unbleached Kraft Paper
  • White-lined Chipboard (WLC)
  • Textile - Cotton
  • Textile - Jute
  • Textile - Kenaf
  • Yarn - Cotton
  • Yarn - Jute
  • Yarn - Kenaf
  • Aluminum
  • Stainless Steel
  • Steel
  • Steel (unalloyed)
  • Container Glass
  • Rubber, Natural (Latex)
  • Rubber, Synthetic (Polybutadiene)
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What conversion processes are available in ?

  • Aluminum Bar Extrusion
  • Aluminum Sheet Rolling
  • Blow Molding
  • Calendering Rigid Plastic Sheet
  • Film Extrusion
  • Foaming
  • Injection Molding
  • Paper Cutting
  • Production of Carton
  • Production of Corrugated Box
  • Production of Paper Bags
  • Production of Tin Can
  • Steel Sheet Rolling
  • Steel Wire Drawing
  • Stretch Blow Molding
  • Thermoforming with calendaring
  • Tube Extrusion
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How can I get my material added to COMPASS?

utilizes life cycle impact assessment (LCIA) results using the raw life cycle inventory (LCI) data as described above. In order to add a new material into we must first have the necessary process level data throughout the different life cycle phases (see above) in order to create an impact assessment for the life cycle metrics analyzed by . Life cycle inventory data are scarce in the U.S. and to help companies and industries assemble such data for different materials, we have developed data collection templates which are available upon request by emailing A guidance document for the collection of LCI data is also available.

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Sustainable Packaging Coalition and GreenBlue


What is GreenBlue’s Sustainable Packaging Coalition?

The SPC is an industry working group dedicated to creating and implementing sustainable packaging solutions. Since its founding in 2003, the Coalition has grown to include member companies from across the supply chain and is internationally recognized as the definitive resource for credible information about packaging sustainability.

The Coalition is a project of GreenBlue, a nonprofit that equips business with the science and resources to make products more sustainable. |

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