Remember The Carpenters’ lovesick melody “We’ve Only Just Begun?”
So many roads to choose
We’ll start out walkin’ and learn to run
And yes, we’ve just begun
Little did the pop-duo know that they might just as well have been talking about sustainable packaging!
Sustainable packaging has traveled many a road in the past several years, and at times has appeared to be going in too many different directions, and nowhere in particular. It started out walking, but quickly learned to run. Now it has picked up speed and is running the race of a lifetime.
The Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) industry was challenged several years ago with reducing excessive packaging waste and started the ball rolling with the often-heard mantra “Reduce, reuse, recycle.” Programs that reuse packaging materials to make other products started popping up. Product owners started looking for recyclable materials for their packages, and worked to educate and compel consumers to recycle. Package size and reduction of packaging materials were top of mind and brought the added benefit of savings in material and transport costs to companies. The entire life cycle of a package had to be taken into account, and this required educating product owners, distributors, the supply chain, and consumers.
Large corporations, including Walmart, Coca-Cola, DuPont, Kellogg’s have been involved in this movement, which has allowed the materials manufacturers more financial support and opportunities for research and development, and they continue to develop new materials that use fewer resources, renewable resources, or materials that can be recycled, recovered or reused.
what’s in store for 2012
COLLABORATION BETWEEN ORGANIZATIONS – National and global organizations have been created in response to sustainable packaging needs; the collaboration among with these organizations to standardize language and metrics, and to provide numerous resources to the industry, is encouraging. That collaboration will only grow stronger in 2012 and beyond.
COMMON METRICS AND INDICATORS FOR ANALYZING PACKAGING SUSTAINABILITY – Released in 2011, the Global Protocol on Packaging Sustainability (GPPS) should help with this issue as businesses become aware of it and begin implementation.
WASTE RECOVERY – New packaging recovery analysis from GreenBlue introduced January 5, 2012, outlines practices to improve waste recovery in the United States.
NO PACKAGING STORES – Buying in bulk to avoid unneeded packaging has been around for some time, but we will see many more stores adopting this practice, in addition to seeing the new zero-packaging or no-packaging stores that are becoming popular.
WASTE TO ENERGY – We will see more taking place in 2012 with a new style of landfill being built to manage waste and turn it into energy.
We have only touched the surface of what’s in store for 2012. There are great strides being made, and sustainable packaging is quickly becoming an integral part of business and our lives. This year promises even more progress because, as Richard and Karen said…we’ve only just begun!