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Sustainability in Packaging Design — MSU Onsite Training Course

New Dates for 2018 Coming Soon!


Location:  Michigan State University, MSU School of Packaging

Dates:  Coming Soon!

Cost:  $1,195 per person (includes 2 lunches, 1 dinner on the first evening)

Course Objectives

This course is designed to give packaging engineers, packaging managers and sustainability engineers an introduction to Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) including theory and hands on experience. The course provides a simplified LCA learning experience that introduces participants to the concept of life cycle thinking in the umbrella of packaging, the basics of conducting an LCA, and some practical experience building simple LCA models in PackageSmart, a user-friendly software program.

The course will be conducted by Lise Laurin and Rafael Auras with guest instructors.

Learning Goals

  • Able to identify the three pillars of sustainability
  • Understand the basic considerations for sustainable packaging systems and how they differ around the world.
  • Be able to discuss the life cycle of a product (think cradle-to-grave).
  • Identify what is involved in the goal and scope phase of an LCA.
  • Able to identify sources of data for an LCA.
  • Comfortable navigating in PackageSmart and building components and packages.
  • Understand how the packaging end-of-life scenario can be examined to reduce the environmental footprint and how to design for optimizing the environmental footprint of the packaging system.
  • Understand the basics of how impact assessment methods calculate environmental impacts.
  • Understand the main purposes of the interpretation phase.
  • Understand the environmental footprint of the product-packaging system.
“I have taught packaging sustainability since the Spring 2008 to MSU packaging students. The main goal of this course is to evaluate the environmental footprint of product/packaging systems using LCA concepts and streamlined LCA software.
After using many types of software, I have found that PackageSmart does a great job of encouraging system thinking and developing a product/packaging life-cycle perspective among my students.”
— Rafael Auras, Ph.D., Associate Professor, School of Packaging, Michigan State University

Abbreviated Agenda

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Day 1 

  • Introductions (all)
  • Sustainability and Sustainable packaging systems: what’s driving them and how are they defined? (Guest lecture)
  • Introduction to Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and Sustainable Innovation
  • The Steps of an LCA
  • Lunch (Provided)
  • Hands on experience with PackageSmart
  • In-Class project, work together
  • Class project, work in teams (all)
  • Review class project
  • Use of LCA in packaging to evaluate end-of-life scenarios: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Recovery, Residual management
  • Day 1 Wrap up

Dinner will be provided at the end of today’s agenda.

Day 2 

  • The Steps of an LCA (continued)
  • Consideration of Compostable Polymers
  • Tour
  • Tour debrief
  • Lunch (Provided)
  • Energy considerations
  • Take home messages and resources
  • Adjourn

Register for This Packaging Design Interactive Course Today, Download our Registration Form (PDF):

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Next Steps

If you haven’t already done so, please book your lodging at the East Lansing Marriott Hotel at University Place for the special rate of $145 per night. If you haven’t already done so, please Register for the class: Sustainability in Package Design (PDF).

Final Details

Two weeks prior to May 4, you’ll receive an email from the MSU School of Packaging Outreach Coordinator, Cimberly Weir,  that will contain the final program details as well as recommendations for what to bring, etc.

Be sure to add her email ( to your address book so Cimberly's email won’t appear in your junk email folder.


About EarthShift Global and MSU


Since its founding in 1957, the Michigan State University School of Packaging (SoP) has been a leader in teaching, research and outreach focused on packaging containers and materials, and their functionality and improvement.

“The MSU SoP is one of the strongest and largest packaging engineering groups in the country,” noted Lise Laurin, founder and CEO of EarthShift Global. Laurin is a distinguished developer of sustainability strategies and practices, chair of General Electric’s Ecoassessment Advisory Board, and participant in numerous international sustainability organizations, including the International Standards Organization (ISO) Technical Advisory Groups for LCA and Ecolabeling.

“Because they’re universally regarded as a key player, we were very excited to collaborate with Professor Auras two years ago on development of our PackageSmart Packaging LCA software,” said Laurin. “Having the chance to jointly offer this class on Sustainability in Packaging Design is a very exciting follow-on, and we can confidently promise that attendees will come away with many new ways to assess their current packaging and solid insights into how to make improvements.”

"EarthShift Global and the SoP have collaborated for over a decade to educate students and packaging professionals in LCA and environmental footprint assessment of packaging systems, and we are both strong proponents of using scientific methods to evaluate, design and create sustainable systems,” said SoP Associate Professor Rafael Auras. “Our School consulted on the early development of EarthShift Global’s streamlined LCA tool PackageSmart, and we use it in our undergraduate and graduate courses, as one of the main tools for evaluating environmental footprint."

Together, EarthShift Global and the MSU SoP offer an ideal combination of theory and practice in sustainability and package design. The world-class SoP facilities and the unmatched quality of instructors in this course make it an ideal opportunity for new designers, and veterans who are eager to broaden their skill set in sustainability.

Instructor Profiles

Lise Laurin, CEO and Founder of EarthShift Global, formerly EarthShift

Lise is a pioneer in Sustainability Return on Investment (S-ROI) and Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). She founded EarthShift in 2000, adopting these methodologies to support North American industries’ early efforts at sustainability. Lise continues to develop and leverage EarthShift Global’s training, optimized LCA tools and S-ROI tools to build organizational capacity and drive large-scale change. Her unique skillset and knowledge base has put her in demand globally by companies, organizations and governments alike. She holds a BS in Physics from Yale University. She continues to develop S-ROI, having broadened the scope from the original Total Cost Assessment methodology to include benefits and impacts to society, and in particular how a decision can be adapted to be a win-win-win solution for all stakeholders. Under Lise’s guidance, the technical team at EarthShift Global produces high-quality, high-value assessments for a range of clients. She also directs EarthShift Global’s software development and support and teaches advanced training courses in LCA, social impact assessment and S-ROI.

Learn about Lise’s advisory roles with the Sustainability Conocente Network, ACLCA, GE, AIChE Institute for Sustainability, Dow, and more.

Rafael Auras, Associate Professor

Dr. Auras is an associate professor in the School of Packaging at Michigan State University (MSU) in East Lansing, MI, USA. He holds a BSChE from the National University of Misiones, Argentina, a MS in Materials Science and Technology from the National University of San Martin, Buenos Aires, Argentina, and a Ph.D. in Packaging Science from the School of Packaging, MSU. He teaches courses in materials science, polymers, shelf life, instrumental analysis, life cycle assessment, and packaging and the environment. His research areas include sustainable packaging systems, life cycle assessment, carbon-neutral packaging, packaging waste scenarios, biodegradation and compostability. Other areas of interest in his research are biodegradable polymers, mass and heat transfer phenomenon in polymers, and food product/package compatibility and interaction. Specialties: Dr. Auras has authored and coauthored more than hundred publications, including peer review articles and chapter books. He reviews project proposal from federal agency such as NSF, USDA, and other organizations and manuscript from international peer review journal publications. He is an active member in the polymer, packaging, and food science fields.