An Improbable Beginning Leads to Decades of Innovation
Sealed Air started with two engineers and an idea for wallpaper.
In 1957, Alfred W. Fielding and Marc Chavannes set out to create a new wall covering by laminating two plastic sheets with air bubbles in between. Although their invention never caught on as interior decor, the two men discovered their new material’s light weight and insulating properties were very useful—first as greenhouse insulation and then as the packing material we now know as Bubble Wrap® brand original cushioning. In 1960, Fielding and Chavannes founded Sealed Air Corporation with Bubble Wrap® as the company’s signature brand.
From the start, Bubble Wrap® was truly revolutionary both as a product and as a value proposition. It could reduce total packaging cost by using less material, reduce package size and weight and reduce loss from damage. In other words, Bubble Wrap brand original cushioning promoted sustainability long before it was fashionable. To demonstrate its unique qualities and value, Sealed Air created special laboratories now known as Packaging Design Application Centers. These labs also educated our sales force about things like shock and vibration protection and worked with our customers to create superior solutions. From our earliest days, we weren’t just selling products—we were consultants. Today, the concepts of consultative selling and value analysis are the platforms from which we innovate. The success of this approach has allowed us to become a company with approximately 15,500 employees serving customers in 123 countries.
The purchase of Canada’s Smith Packaging, Ltd. in 1970 and its subsequent rechristening as Sealed Air of Canada, Ltd., marked the official arrival of Sealed Air as an international company. The emergence of global growth, environmental awareness and a new era in logistics all played critical roles in shaping our business in the years since.
Throughout the 1970s we expanded our product portfolio to include Mail Lite™ shipping envelopes and with the acquisition of Instapak Corporation "foam-in-place" cushioning systems. We developed foam and system technologies to meet the packaging demand for heavier products that offered on-site, just-in-time protective packaging materials. Sealed Air expanded into Western Europe in the early 1970s and the Far East in the late 1970s. We also continued to foreshadow contemporary ideas of sustainability. Our 1973 Annual Report put forth the prescient notion that "the selection of packaging materials which provide better cushioning, lighter weight and reusability is a positive step toward meeting all three sides of a crucial triangle: energy, environment, economy."
The 1980s arrived and so did the floppy disk. Its role in data transfer expanded the demand for padded mailers. In turn, Sealed Air acquired Jiffy Packaging Corporation in 1987. In addition to adding polyethylene foam and other plastic and paper packaging products, we launched our first food packaging product by acquiring the Dri-Loc® absorbent pad line. The 1980s also marked the expansion of operations in Italy and Spain and the opening of a new Instapak® foam facility in the Netherlands.
Throughout the 1990s, Sealed Air’s business became increasingly global. New plants were opened in Germany and Spain. In 1998, Sealed Air purchased the Cryovac® packaging business from W. R. Grace, to create the world's leading protective and specialty packaging company. For more than 50 years, Cryovac® brand packaging solutions have revolutionized food packaging worldwide with vacuum shrink bags, laminates and case-ready solutions that extend the shelf life of fresh food.
The arrival of the 21st century marked an increased emphasis by Sealed Air on growth and developing regions of the globe. Our innovations addressed the need for greater dining convenience, more energy efficient and environmentally friendly solutions, the effective movement of goods and the needs of modernized healthcare systems. The company also explored new opportunities outside of packaging applications.
In 2014, the company announced that it would be establishing a new global headquarters in Charlotte, North Carolina, relocating to a modern, state-of-the art, environmentally-sustainable campus that would become the headquarters for its divisions, research & development facilities, and corporate offices. Sealed Air broke ground in June 2015 on our new Charlotte campus, and employees began moving on to the new campus at the end of 2016. We received LEED Gold certification for our Charlotte global corporate headquarters and held the official ribbon-cutting for the new campus in May 2017.
The company Alfred W. Fielding and Marc Chavannes founded more than half a century ago is now a multinational corporation with approximately 15,500 employees serving 123 countries. Today, Sealed Air helps customers achieve their sustainability goals in the face of today's biggest social and environmental challenges. As a knowledge-based company focused on packaging solutions, we enable a safer and less wasteful food supply chain and protect valuable goods shipped around the world. We strive to be the global leaders in food safety and security and product protection.