Giving Green

The popularity of gift cards continues to soar and Sea-stone, the Provo, Utah-based designer and manufacturer of custom gift-card packages, has predicted that its business this holiday season will more than double over the 2006 holiday season. The company sold more than 30 million holiday gift-card packages last year.

From a green perspective, approximately 100 million units sold by Seastone in the last year were made from recycled paper, and its largest volume customer (also one of the largest retailers in the world) has requested that all its products be made from recycled materials.

In addition to using recycled materials to manufacture its products, Seastone CEO Eric Child explained, “We continue to look for ways to reduce the additional packaging required for our products. For instance, our gift boxes are typically merchandised with a single hang tag.”

Seastone also has a patent on the use of tin for gift-card boxes. Among consumers, tin is perceived as a high-value material and the tin boxes are typically kept and used in other capacities. However, Child noted that there is already a large infrastructure in place for the recycling of tin products.

“In general, any changes that are good for the environment are good for businesses as well, because they also streamline operations, reduce overall costs and make businesses more competitive,” concluded Child.

Target Goes Green With Gift Card

Target has launched a new gift card made of sustainable plastic. The card, available in select Target stores nationwide, is made from Mirel, a new family of bio-based plastics made from corn that provides an alternative to traditional, petroleum-based plastics. Unlike conventional plastics, Mirel biodegrades in a variety of environments including soil, home compost, wetlands, rivers and oceans. Mirel is produced and marketed by Metabolix and Archer Daniels Midland through a joint venture.

Save Money, Save Trees

In celebration of September’s designation as National Coupon Month, mobile-coupon distributor Cellfire announced a partnership with American Forests, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit conservation organization dedicated to environmental restoration. Under the partnership, Cellfire committed to plant one tree for every 5,000 discount offers it distributes to mobile subscribers. The San Jose, Calif.-based mobile-marketing company expects to plant more than 10,000 trees annually as part of this ongoing commitment.

Coupons distributed electronically to mobile phones are environmentally friendly, with virtually no carbon footprint. In a prepared statement, Bonnie Carlson, president of the Promotion Marketing Association, which sponsored National Coupon Month, said, “Mobile coupons are not only great for the environment, but a great way for businesses to efficiently extend their brand to the one thing everyone carries with them— their mobile phone.”

Cellfire supports more than 600 different mobile handsets and has partnerships with more than 2,000 merchant locations throughout the United States, including Domino’s, Hardee’s, Hollywood Video and Virgin Megastore. Consumers subscribe to receive the discount offers, specifying for what, where and when they would like to have discounts.

In the Cellfire announcement, Greg Meyer, director of corporate relations for American Forests, stated, “Mobile coupons are a step in the right direction to decrease the millions of trees destroyed annually for the creation of paper coupons and direct-mail offers.”

Unlike Internet coupons, which typically require a copy of the offer to be presented when the discount is redeemed at a merchant location, no paper is ever required for in-store redemption of mobile coupons. Consumers present their cell phone at the point of purchase and coupons are redeemed from the mobile message.

“We are demonstrating our commitment to the environment by not only offering a green alternative to paper coupons, but also through our reforestation efforts,” said Brent Dusing, CEO of Cellfire. “Consumers can now save money and trees at the same time.”

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