Sustainability in Packaging

Many organisations are quick to boast about the fantastic things they are doing to help tackle climate change with packaging usually at the forefront of their claims. However, some have been accused of greenwashing so where does the buck stop? Allott and Associates takes a look at the facts and the fiction of sustainable packaging.

How green is their valley?

Sustainable packaging have been buzz words for years. This double act for promoting a business’s green credentials can mean anything from switching to cardboard to recycling plastic waste to feed a circular economy – another double act!

But is sustainable packaging viable for a global company’s entire worldwide operations with customers at both ends of the wealth spectrum? Green solutions often mean more expensive products which richer countries can afford. Developing nations with poorer populations might find it difficult to recycle – inexpensive tiny plastic sachets being used by millions of low-income customers are a problem for countries without proper waste collection.

Businesses are typically driven by economics. Companies might want to do away with plastic sachets – they are currently virtually impossible to recycle in a cost-effective way – because they litter the landscape, clog waterways and harm wildlife. Until there is an efficient alternative on the market, it appears the world’s stuck with them.

sustainable packaging

Consumer frustration at greenwashing

Consumer trust is crucial. A report published in The Guardian from the Changing Markets Foundation accuses some of the world’s leading brands of greenwashing – misleading the public over their green credentials, selling products claiming they are better for the environment but the small print suggests otherwise.

Much of the focus is on eco-friendly abilities of products for reducing waste – proof of sustainability, recyclability and compostability. Consumers should be able to clearly judge for themselves the measures companies are taking to help try and reverse the damage humankind has wrought on the planet, which calls for complete transparency.

Plastic pollution is an emotive issue and the pressure is on to replace complicated and difficult to recycle consumer items. However, there are opportunities through collaboration and innovation for brands today to avoid the stigma of greenwashing. Accurately highlighting green credentials can inspire brand loyalty as well as making shoppers more environmentally conscious about their purchases.

Wrapping up sustainability

The introduction of the Plastic Packaging Tax in April has concentrated minds. There are opportunities for brands to rethink their requirements, paving the way for more innovative eco-friendly packaging solutions.

Some major industrial producers have already moved to 30+ percent recycled plastic packaging to meet the material requirements. However, there is greater scrutiny of grand eco claims leading to calls for tougher closed-loop recycling systems and effective deposit returns systems to significantly reduce the amount of virgin plastic entering the cycle.

All it takes is for the industry to seize the bull by the horns, make a concerted effort to switch to sustainable solutions and demonstrate complete transparency – and greenwashing will be a thing of the past.