According to Global Web Index’s (GWI) 2019 study, Sustainable Packaging Unwrapped: An in-depth study of consumer perceptions and behaviors surrounding sustainable packaging in the UK and U.S., “Sustainable packaging is no longer a nice-to-have, it’s a must-have for any brands looking to future-proof their operations against the rising tide of consumer scrutiny.”
In response, Shorr Packaging is evaluating brands that have taken meaningful steps toward packaging sustainability, what that means for those brands relative to consumer perception(s) and how other organizations can follow in their footsteps (and generate positive ROI while doing so).
UNDERSTANDING CORPORATE SUSTAINABLE PACKAGING
First and foremost, it’s important to have a clear understanding of what exactly comprises a corporate packaging sustainability program.
According to the Sustainable Packaging Coalition®, sustainable packaging:
• Is beneficial, safe & healthy for individuals and communities throughout its life cycle
• Meets market criteria for performance and cost
• Is sourced, manufactured, transported, and recycled using renewable energy
• Optimizes the use of renewable or recycled source materials
• Is manufactured using clean production technologies and best practices
• Is made from materials healthy throughout the life cycle
• Is physically designed to optimize materials and energy
• Is effectively recovered and utilized in biological and/or industrial closed loop cycles
Furthermore, the Coalition asserts that the criteria listed above outline a corporate framework for achieving sustainability. It is important to note that the Sustainable Packaging Coalition® recognizes that the timelines for achievement will vary across criteria and packaging materials utilized.
ALDI’S OVERALL SUSTAINABLE OUTLOOK
When evaluating brands that have led the way, relative to sustainable packaging, second to none is grocery giant, ALDI. In April of this year, ALDI pledged to offer 100 percent reusable, recyclable or compostable packaging on all of its products by 2025. Via press release, the company outlined its specific goals to reduce plastic packaging throughout their stores over the next five years:
• By 2025, 100 percent of ALDI packaging, including plastic packaging, will have reusable, recyclable or compostable packaging
• By 2020, 100 percent of ALDI-exclusive consumable packaging to include How2Recycle label
• By 2020, implement an initiative to make private-label product packaging easier for customers to reuse
• Guide continuous improvement of product packaging by internal expertise and external evaluations
Chief among ALDI’s proclamations was its commitment to working with its suppliers/distributors to ensure these goals were actualized by 2025.
While the environmental impact of ALDI’s commitment is obvious (and applauded), it likely goes without saying that ALDI’s motivation for eliminating non-sustainable packaging was largely based on its customers’ preferences. According to the GWI research cited above, over 50% of consumers said that they have reduced the amount of disposable plastic they use over the last twelve months. Additionally, 57% of consumers say they would pay more for sustainable/eco-friendly products.
It’s important to note that ALDI is far from the only large corporation taking a stand on packaging sustainability – and in the process more closely aligning themselves with their consumers’ preferences. Brands with similar sustainability goals include: Nestle, Samsung, Kellogg, Walmart (private brand), and Mondelez – to name just a few.
SHORR’S SHIFT TOWARDS SUSTAINABLE PACKAGING
While the corporate trend is apparent, this likely leaves you wondering what your organization can do to capitalize on the growing corporate shift toward more (or fully) sustainable packaging. For additional insight on this topic, we spoke to Shorr’s Mike VanZetta, Corporate Director – Corrugated; and Mike outlined three primary areas of focus for brands looking to develop an action plan to become packaging sustainable:
1. Take a stand
For a corporate sustainability initiative to be effective your organization has to be “bought in”; it’s not enough to simply want to jump on the growing consumer trend. Your corporate leaders must be invested in the organizational change required to become sustainable by reducing your organization’s carbon footprint because of the potential benefits to your organization and the environmental benefits for all.
2. Evaluate the Sustainable Packaging Coalition® guidelines above and determine what your organization could realistically tackle – and in what time frame, then engage all necessary stakeholders.
This is hardly “new news”, but goals without a realistic timeline for completion or that are unfeasible due to insurmountable business obstacles they present will assuredly fail. Sustainability goals are no different. Have open, transparent conversations with your teams and executive leaders, and develop SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely) goals relative to your shift toward sustainability. Then hold your teams accountable for execution of those goals.
3. Find a packaging/supply chain partner who understands sustainable supply chains – and how to make them work for your organization.
Bringing a knowledgeable partner into the mix is absolutely critical for both the strategic and executional phases of your packaging sustainability rollout. By taking a consultative approach, your distribution partner should find efficiencies in the process that reduce cost and boost profitability – all while reducing your organization’s carbon footprint, thereby achieving the elusive corporate “win-win.”
To understand how your organization can take steps toward packaging sustainability, contact Shorr Packaging online or at 888-885-0055.