In the recent past, packing products have been at the head of the sustainability wave. The last decade or so has seen the practice of sustainable packaging grow by leaps and bounds throughout the industry, helping organizations better meet their consumers’ demands while becoming more environmentally friendly. There are still problems in this new focus, but there are also new strategies to improve companies’ efforts even more.
Importance of sustainable packaging within the market
Packaging Digest asked a few questions about the approach, emphasis and benefits of a sustainability-based approach in packaging. One of the biggest issues is that of brand equation, as in how beneficial to a specific brand such a campaign can be.
As global awareness of environmental safety and sustainability continues to rise, more consumers are trying to do their part to reduce their environmental footprint. Citing a survey by Cone Communications, the news source found that more than 80 percent of all respondents said sustainability was important for their decision to make a purchase, and they were only more interested if they had a way to define how to use and dispose of a product. A number like that helps businesses re-establish the importance of using sustainable means while simultaneously appealing directly to their consumer base.
However, sustainable packaging actually goes further than simply spurring audience demand. The implementation of sustainable choices can act as a differentiation in a tough marketplace and actively improve any company’s reputation, helping them gain more market interest and share alike. About 60 percent of packaging players consider the practice to be a major concern, especially when they’re compared to other companies. About 60 percent of companies in the industry consider it a primary concern in their practices, compared to 40 percent in other industries. This will only lead to more companies changing their packaging designs if or when they get the opportunity to do so.
“More than 80 percent of all respondents said sustainability was important for their decision to make a purchase.”
The growing undercurrent of sustainability
What’s more, the status of sustainable packaging in the realm of fast-moving consumer goods has grown quickly, with new emphasis put on improving the sustainability of packaging. For instance, Unilever has been working to improve this by reducing packaging weight by a third, maximizing recycled content in packages and improving recycling and recovery rates by as much as 15 percent in the next six years. As of 2013, it’s well on its way to achieve these goals, as its achievements currently include an 11 percent reduction in weight, a 7 percent improvement in recycling, and more than 3,000 tons of post-consumer recycled materials currently on store shelves overall.
This means that if a company or supplier is looking to add new sustainability practices, the sooner the better. Suppliers and companies who can help other patrons in the market have been given preference when they’re an option for sourcing. The more sustainable the efforts appear to be, the better overall opportunities will be available in the market
Sustainable successes recognized throughout the market
As the overall popularity of this practice grows, more companies are joining in. Supply Management found that brewer SABMiller plans to cut its carbon footprint by about 25 percent throughout its value chain for each liter of beer it produces through the year 2020. Additionally, it will also attempt to reduce emissions by 50 percent at breweries, 25 percent in packaging carbon footprint and another 25 percent in refrigeration carbon footprint.
In doing so, the company aims to secure its water supplies, reduce water risks and minimize consumption down to three liters of water per beer produced. The company also aims to support small businesses, hoping to expand and improve livelihoods and support a variety of enterprises.
“Beer is essentially a local product, and we have deep roots in the local communities where it is brewed and consumed,” company director of sustainable production Andy Wales told the news source. “Our business-focused approach to sustainability has already developed innovative models of watershed protection, created new beers using local crops such as sorghum and cassava, and driven significant cost savings from carbon and water efficiency. This is a natural next step to support our future growth path.”
Small businesses are just as sustainably-focused, according to the Portland Press-Herald. Mount Desert Island Ice Cream, which is known as a 2011 Food & Wine Top 25 Ice Cream Parlor, has sustainable business practices to the point where it won a spot on Mother Earth News’ Top 20 Artisan Ice Cream Companies. The company works to do so by working with organic farms and working on finding the best packaging and recycling solutions that can help it meet its goals.