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Sustainable Packaging Coalition Releases Metrics

packaging metricsThe Sustainable Packaging Coalition has released metrics to help companies measure their progress toward the coalition’s stated definition of sustainable packaging.

Certain metrics from the coalition’s new framework will serve as a baseline for the Global Packaging Project, which is an initiative from the Consumer Goods Forum that is seeking global consensus on best practices for sustainable packaging indicators and metrics, according to a press release.

Because different purchasers of packaging have different ideas of what constitutes “sustainable packaging,” it has been difficult and costly for packaging suppliers to meet all the needs, said GreenBlue Senior Fellow Katherine O’Dea, chief author of the framework, in a Supermarket News article, adding that the “lack of coordination has made the data collection process time consuming and costly for suppliers, as well as making it difficult for companies to consistently benchmark their performance over time.”

The Sustainable Packaging Indicators and Metrics Framework Version 1.0 is organized into eight categories:

– material use – including material use reduction, material use waste and virgin material use.

– energy use – including total life cycle energy intensity, renewable energy proportion and recovered latent energy.

– water use – including life cycle water consumption and life cycle water used from stressed sources.

– material health – including toxicants concentration and toxicants migration.

– clean production and transport – including toxic emissions, life cycle GHG emissions and energy audits.

– cost and performance – including life cycle embodied energy production, selling unit cube efficiency and transport packaging cube efficiency.

– community impact – including product safety, recyclability, shelf life and packaging energy recovery rate.

– worker impact – including various responsible workplace and labor law practices.

To see the entire framework, click here (PDF). For instance, see the image attached to this story for some examples of metrics related to material use.

Various retailers have instituted some forms of sustainability metrics for their suppliers. Most notably, Wal-Mart has a packaging scorecard that includes a number of sustainability-related metrics.

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