In line with its commitment to providing customers with innovative packaging solutions, Georgia-Pacific (GP), Atlanta, upgraded the testing and development areas of its Innovation Institute to achieve LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Silver certification. Enhancements include a new “wet” lab for paper testing, changes to allow for rapid prototyping and improved environmental chambers for pre-test conditioning of packaging materials.

Originally built in 1991 as the Technology and Development Center, the Innovation Institute today serves as the company’s creative and collaborative environment dedicated to helping customers build brands, improve operations and optimize packaging.

“The Innovation Institute is a reflection of GP’s commitment to our customers in the areas of safety, sustainability, customer focus, innovation, quality and value creation, what we call our DNA,” says Jim DiAndreth, vice president, research and technology, Georgia-Pacific Packaging & Cellulose. “It’s not about simply staying on the cutting-edge of packaging technology; it’s about creating step-change innovation that creates real value for our customers.”

“In our effort to help our customers improve their sustainability performance, we sometimes forget to share what we do to improve sustainability in our own operations,” adds Brian Reilly, vice president of research and technology at Georgia-Pacific’s Innovation Institute. “Achieving LEED certification is one way we can demonstrate that our Innovation Institute is designed to operate in a sustainable way.”  

The Innovation Institute features laboratories that evaluate the effectiveness of packaging through rigorous testing and evaluation, set-forth by skilled technicians and designers. The laboratories include:

  • Paper Science Lab – The new “wet” lab is specifically designed to test and research the impact of fiber, chemicals and advanced materials, ultimately powering the development of stronger packaging papers with better appearance, printability and water resistance.
  • Materials Testing Lab – Maintained at TAPPI (Technical Association of the Pulp and Paper Industry) standard temperature and humidity conditions, it has the capacity to perform a variety of key tests on liners, mediums and combined boards, and can predict structural integrity and board optimization through extensive testing protocols and proprietary packaging strength software. Furthermore, it has the ability to conduct the forensics necessary to understand critical properties to help overcome challenges in the supply chain.
  • Transportation Testing Lab – Also held at TAPPI standard temperature and humidity conditions, this proving ground is designed to simulate different types of transportation to make sure packaging maintains integrity throughout the supply chain. It features technology capable of simulating environmental forces individual packages or full pallets of product could potentially encounter during handling, transportation and warehousing. Additionally, ISTA (International Safe Transit Association)-certified testing protocol is followed to mitigate risk in supply chain.
  • Environmental Chambers – These high-tech chambers simulate real life environmental conditions through testing in three different chamber environments, providing the ability to assess packaging performance under freezing to high temperatures, low to high humidity and everything in between. These chambers can meet all five of the TAPPI standard conditions—frozen, refrigerated, desert, tropical and ambient.
  • Retail Simulation Environment –The Innovation Institute‘s retail environment can be used to recreate retail shelves to pinpoint how packaging and display options influence consumers during the critical in-store moment-of-choice.