Report praises industry for ‘more active’ role in sustainable packaging debate

By Ben Bouckley

- Last updated on GMT

Report praises industry for ‘more active’ role in sustainable packaging debate
A new report from Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC) has praised packaging manufacturers for taking a more active role in sustainable packaging discussions since 2010, and investing more therein.

PwC made its comments in a new report entitled Sustainable Packaging: Myth or Reality?​ that said it aimed to reignite a debate around the term ‘sustainable packaging’.

More broadly, the report authors concluded that ‘sustainable packaging’ was no longer a relevant terms of debate and was too broad to be useful, and said a ‘more balanced view’ of efficient packaging was dictating debate terms for packaging producers and FMCGs companies.

The PwC said ‘efficient packaging’ included: (1) producing effective packaging with minimum resources (2) protecting the product and minimising waste (3) transport efficiency (4) display efficiency (5) effective after use disposal/recycling.

Packaging players slow to engage

The report authors noted that a PwC 2010 report said that packaging manufacturers had been slow to engage in the sustainability debate, leaving them at the mercy of consumers and regulatory bodies.

“The past two years have seen the industry take an active role in the debate, but emphasising that packaging is only part of a wider responsibility story,”​ they added.

Industry as a whole had argued that focusing on packaging alone in the sustainability debate was counterproductive and short sighted.

“As a result the industry has increased its communication efforts, particularly in explaining to the public why and how packaging is used, the contribution that it makes to a sustainable society, and how consumers can play their part in the life cycle,”​ the authors added.

Customers driving change - Rexam

Sustainability investments had risen during the economic crisis, the report said, with companies more attentive to resource use, and using less material or those with a lighter weight, and showing greater concern for a packaging production, distribution and disposal through the supply chain.

Manufacturers were also engaging more with customers, encouraging them to look at product design and develop relationships with clients for their mutual benefit, PwC said.

This tallies with comments from John Revess, director of group responsibility for beverage can maker and global consumer packaging group Rexam, who is quoted by PwC as saying: “The pressure for change comes directly from our customers and not so much from retailers.

“It’s mostly specific product related, and the larger global drinks producers seem to be more focused than other groups in driving improvements to their products today,”​ Revess added.

“We have been very active in supporting their initiatives, especially in closing the material loop on the beverage cans side.”

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1 comment

myth or smokescreen

Posted by Angela Morris,

Efficient and effective packaging is clearly just one part of achieving sustainability across product life cycles but packaging must still stand up to scrutiny in its own right. As more and more factors are lumped into the broadest sustainability calculation, it may actually be easier for FMCG companies, retailers and even packaging manufacturers to create and hide behind a smokescreen of ‘packaging efficiency’.

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