The software, designed by the Australia-based Sustainable Packaging Alliance (SPA), uses data sets particular to each region of the world, including North America, South America, Asia, India and Europe.
PIQET uses these to evaluate packaging’s total impact, considering materials, water, electricity use, manufacturing, product origin, transportation methods and end of life.
SPA says companies can use PIQET to turn around an assessment on their packaging within 20 to 25 minutes, instead of investing months in a full life-cycle assessment. This makes it a helpful tool in the design phase, allowing users to model impacts before committing to any one design, SPA says.
Marks & Spencer says the software is in line with its Plan A environmental and ethical program, which aims to make the company the world’s most sustainable major retailer by 2015.
In June the company said it has achieved over half of its Plan A commitments. M&S says it has already done work to reduce the environmental impact of its packaging by reducing its weight, simplifying materials and using more sustainable and recycled content.
It reports that packaging improvements saved the company a net £11m in 2010-11. Since 2006/7 M&S has reduced non-glass packaging by an average of 26 percent, to 20g per item sold, beating a target to cut such packaging by 25 percent by 2012.
L’Oreal announced its own use of PIQET in March.