Home » Future of Our Planet » Sustainable, Recyclable, Affordable: A Family-Owned Business Shakes Things Up
Future of Our Planet

Sustainable, Recyclable, Affordable: A Family-Owned Business Shakes Things Up

sustainability-packaging-paper products
Sponsored By:
sustainability-packaging-paper products
Sponsored By:

In business for more than a century, Paper Mart has become an industry leader in sustainable paper products.

Allison McGuire

Vice President of Marketing, Paper Mart

Running a small business requires hard work and vision. Increasingly, that vision includes issues of sustainability: 95% of small business owners believe sustainability is crucial, according to a survey by QuickBooks, and most already have plans in place to reduce their environmental impact.

“What’s important to a lot of these entrepreneurs is ensuring their packaging is something that’s not going to end up in a landfill,” noted Allison McGuire, vice president of marketing at Paper Mart, an industrial and retail packaging company located in Southern California. “We also send out surveys to our customers asking if sustainable products were of interest to them. And the resounding answer was ‘yes!’”


Founded in 1921, Paper Mart can draw on more than a century of experience to support its customers. “We’re a fourth-generation family-owned and operated business,” McGuire said. “It’s definitely an advantage when other small, family-owned or self-run businesses relate to us. They want to support us, because they’re the same thing.”

The secret of Paper Mart’s continued success in the face of huge national competitors isn’t much of a secret, according to McGuire. “Our customer service is definitely a differentiator,” she said. “We have our call center and product experts in-house. People call and say, ‘I have this product, what’s the best way to package it?’ and we can give them real advice and be a partner with them.”

The company gets most orders out the door the same day, offers free will-call pickups service,  and ships all over the country. But supporting the local area and local businesses has always been its focus. “We’ve kept the business in Southern California to build on the loyal customer base that we have,” McGuire said.


While Paper Mart has noted an increasing demand for sustainable paper products from its customers, this is an issue that goes back to the company’s core values.

“We’ve done a lot of things sustainably within our building,” McGuire noted. “We have all electric forklifts, we have an in-house recycling program, we’ve changed all of our lighting to LED.” These efforts have reduced Paper Mart’s carbon emissions by 62%, saved 8.4 million pounds of CO2, and saved more than 2,000 trees.

A key aspect of serving their customers sustainably is being a “one-stop shop” that offers more than 26,000 products. To illustrate, McGuire offers the example of a maker who runs a small Etsy store. “They need product packaging, but they also need shipping and mailing supplies,” she explained. “We can provide both of those things in sustainable forms.”

The company offers some innovative products to fulfill this commitment to the environment. They’ve got biodegradable packing peanuts that are water soluble, completely disintegrating when they get wet.

They offer padded mailers that are fully curbside recyclable, unlike traditional mailers that must have their plastic bubble padding separated before they can be recycled. The company also has bubble wrap made out of paper, reducing the plastic waste normally associated with the product.

Paper Mart works hard to ensure these sustainable products and robust customer service don’t come with a high price tag. “Since its inception, the company has been a ‘low-price-to-everyone’ type of company,” McGuire said. “We don’t want to give the best discounts to only the largest corporations. Anybody who wants to buy from us is able to get a deal, and then as they grow and they buy more, they get volume discounts. That’s always been our strategy: Have a very fair price that’s competitive.”

Next article