UK retailers, manufacturers and consumer groups including the Packaging Federation, The Industry Council for Packaging and the Environment, Diageo, Boots, P&G, Nestle and Rexam are calling for the phrase “sustainable packaging” to be scrapped and are urging instead for government to get to grips with the real issues affecting the industry, according to research by PricewaterhouseCoopers.
According to the packaging industry, the much-used phrase is nothing more than a “red herring” and should be phased out. The focus should be on ensuring packaging delivers maximum sustainability throughout the entire supply chain and is recoverable after use, says Sustainable Packaging: Myth or Reality.
Packaging only makes up around five percent of landfill waste and two percent of greenhouse gas emissions, and issues such as food waste and rise in consumption of products should be much bigger concerns, according to Jane Bickerstaffe, chief executive of INCPEN. Politicians are only interested in packaging once its lifecycle has ended, according to Bickerstaff.
The industry is working towards efficient products, efficient packaging, efficient transport and efficient end-of-life solutions, according to PwC. Such things as plant-derived plastics from non petro-chemical sources will be part of that mix, along with intelligent packaging and the drive to make the entire supply chain more efficient.
In December, Diageo, one of the companies calling for an end to the use of the phrase “sustainable packaging”, set out its guidelines for using sustainable packaging. The company set 2015 goals to reduce average weight by 10 percent, increase recycled material content by 20 percent and ensure 100 percent of packaging is reusable, recyclable or “suitable for waste management practices.”
The drinks company said it had established a sustainable packaging framework, implementation plan and targets to deliver the smallest possible environmental footprint, where practical. It has commissioned and created a life cycle assessment tool, the Sustainable Packaging Optimisation Tool, to rapidly assess the environmental impact of new and existing pack designs. This tool will provide data early in the product development cycle, Diageo says.