Case Study: Outlook Group Diverts Waste from Landfills

About Outlook Group

Founded in 1977, Outlook Group is an innovative manufacturer of labels, flexible packaging, and paperboard packaging, with fully integrated contract manufacturing and fulfillment services. Headquartered in Neenah,Wisconsin, with over 330 associates, Outlook produces over $82 million annually in products and services for the healthcare, medical device, consumer products and food and beverage markets. Today, Outlook Group’s facilities comprise nearly 500,000 sq. ft. of certified manufacturing, distribution, fulfillment and R&D space.

As Outlook Group looks toward the future, it is well positioned to provide sustainable packaging and printing solutions to its customers. With its strong foundation, industry-leading clients, and commitment to sustainability, Outlook Group continues to enjoy strong growth and success as a leading Wisconsin-based company.

Committed to Environmental Leadership

Outlook Group started on a path to reduce their environmental impact more than a decade ago. Sustainability in packaging is more important than ever with many major brands publishing lofty sustainability goals.

As a company, Outlook Group has always been proactive in protecting the environment while helping customers do the same. According to Kevin Hayes, President, “We go well beyond printing industry standards in minimizing the amount of material utilized in our customers’ packaged products to make their packaging more green. We walk the sustainability talk internally also, continually implementing operational efficiencies and improving our processes to reduce energy and emissions, raw material usage, and waste.”

Outlook Group’s sustainable packaging services include materials and recycling education, sustainable packaging roadmap development, inventory management programs, and full service end-to-end (E2E) supply chain solutions. Sustainable product offerings include MICROLINER® ultra-thin liner for labels, peel/reseal labels, rPET label liners, breathable lidding film, biodegradable flexible packaging films, and PCR and recyclable folding carton materials. Outlook Group is ISO 13485 certified for medical device packaging, a G7 Master Printer, rated Excellent by the SQF Institute for food packaging (level 2), FDA registered, and a licensed USDA facility warehouse.

In addition to focusing on using sustainable materials, reducing material consumption and optimizing supply chain, Outlook Group chose to pursue landfill avoidance. Diverting Waste from Landfills For help with this task they turned to Channeled Resources to facilitate the relationship with Convergen Energy (and its predecessors). Convergen Energy converts non-recyclable industrial by-products into an alternative fuel that can be used to replace fossil fuel sources and produce renewable energy. Since 2009, Convergen has diverted over 600,000 tons (1.2 billion pounds) from landfills into energy alternatives. This is enough waste material to fill more than three entire Empire State Buildings. The Convergen Energy solution provides a very low carbon footprint and reduces greenhouse gas emissions significantly compared to any other method of power generation that uses fossil fuels such as coal or natural gas.

Convergen accepted 100% of Outlook Group’s non-recyclables in compactor loads, including “make-ready” rolls that are non-usable and non-recyclable.

A Culture of Sustainability

Today Outlook Group diverts more than 95% of their manufacturing waste from going to landfills—either by recycling fiber and other materials, or by sending laminated films, pressure sensitive label material, matrix waste and release liner to their renewable energy partners.

There are no dumpsters outside of their facilities and 95-98% of the waste generated in their facility (by weight) is recycled, reused, or converted to energy. To support their customers, Outlook offers complete packaging sustainability options to reduce carbon footprint and meet “By 2025” standards today. Outlook’s customers value their input on landfill avoidance techniques and renewable energy partnerships.

Hayes notes, “We lead by example, translating our success into our customers’ success, guiding them to achieve their sustainability goals related to packaging waste reduction and landfill diversion.”

According to Hayes, “When customers tour our facilities, they notice that finding the right process for packaging waste is part of Outlook Group’s culture of sustainability; it is simply embedded into our day-to-day actions in manufacturing packaging components.” Hayes adds, “We have a deep history in leading customers to reap the benefits of source reduction, automation and downgauging product materials to use the thinnest pressure sensitive film liner in the industry. We are partners in finding options to divert packaging waste from landfills.”

Sustainable Leadership Recognized by Industry Peers and Wisconsin Businesses

WMC Policy Day 2019

Outlook Group’s efforts in the area of sustainability have resulted in the company winning three prestigious awards in the past few years: Calvin Frost Sustainability Leadership Award from the Tag and Label Manufacturers Institute (TLMI), Recycling Excellence Award from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and the Wisconsin Business Friend of the Environment (BFOE) award from the Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce (WMC).


Hayes notes, “We have achieved our environmental success through a combination of peer leadership and peer pressure. Our team at Outlook Group is passionate about source reduction, thus limiting potential waste before materials enter our facilities for processing. We have an impeccably low waste percentage across our portfolio, and nearly all of our products sold are defect free—and we’re always striving to improve.”

Hayes concludes, “Winning the Calvin Frost Sustainability Leadership Award was a highlight for Outlook Group. Our relationships with our suppliers and Channeled Resources goes back over a decade and has been critical in reducing our environmental impact. We proudly work with our customers to limit what waste they create as well—either by recycling fiber and other materials, or by sending laminated films, pressure-sensitive label material, matrix waste and release liner to renewable energy partners.”