Packaging: Educational, Profitable -- and Fun

Sept. 1, 2001
Moving product from one continent to another is a hot topic for today's packaging arena.

Packaging: Educational, Profitable — and Fun

More than one management guru has professed that what we do for a living should be fun as well as profitable. Too often we lose sight of that in the daily rush to get things done.

I recently learned of an educational program sponsored by APL Ltd., a global container operator, along with its sister company APL Logistics, that brings the world of packaging and logistics into the classroom. First and foremost, the program is fun. It teaches kids geography, global trade, and what transportation and logistics are all about. Someone has to tell the kids. They’re not learning this stuff from their parents at home. And, shocking as it might be, now there are even television ads that show warehouses and pallets of goods!

The Boomerang Box program illustrates the way raw material and goods move from one continent to another through international trade. Based on a traveling 40-foot cargo container (the “Boomerang Box”), the program includes a popular Web site ( where teachers and school children can track the container’s movements around the world and learn about numerous aspects of international trade, logistics and transportation. Last year, APL also launched a mobile classroom in a 20-foot container called Boomerang Box Junior.

“We’re delighted that the educational outreach represented by the Boomerang Box has received such high recognition,” says Ed Aldridge, APL’s president for the Americas. “International trade is breaking down barriers and fundamentally changing the world. We think it’s vital that school kids understand the role that trade plays in their lives.”

The program’s effective and easy-to-use curriculum is packaged in three levels for students from kindergarten through 12th grade. The program is currently in use at more than 200 schools worldwide, and the Web site averages 1,000 hits per month. APL has received e-mail communications about the Boomerang Box from teachers and students worldwide.

Among the many cargoes carried in the Boomerang Box have been grain shipped for CARE from the U.S. to India; a decorative pavilion transported from Chongquing, China, for the Seattle, Washington, Chinese Garden; and computer monitors sent from Korea to Hamburg, Germany.

The Boomerang Box program was begun four years ago by APL in partnership with the Port of Seattle.

Another worthy educational effort, focused at a higher level, is the work being done by the Packaging Education Forum (PEF). The organization has for the past 40 years or so (its predecessor was the Packaging Education Foundation) created a bridge between university graduates with technical, marketing and management education in packaging, and the business community.

The corporate-membership organization has provided millions of dollars to 24 universities for activities ranging from research projects to establishment of academic programs providing degrees or majors in packaging technology.

PEF brings together packaging industry leaders who discuss industry and technical trends and needs. This year, at Pack Expo Las Vegas, September 9-12, PEF will induct four career packaging professionals into the Packaging Hall of Fame during its annual awards ceremony. This year’s inductees are Dr. Melvin Druin, retired vice president of packaging, Campbell Soup Company; Lloyd Ferguson, president, Summit Publishing Company; Ted Marquis Sr., founder and president, MARQ Packaging Systems Inc.; and Yoshikane Mito, director and chairman of the Japan Packaging Institute.

“These individuals are packaging professionals who spent their careers inventing and refining the packaging material, containers, machinery and components that affect every consumer on this planet,” says Ben Miyares, president, PEF.

Who says work has to be all work? Just more proof that packaging can be fun and personally rewarding — as well as profitable.

Clyde E. Witt

executive editor

[email protected]

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