Packaging should be sustainable throughout the supply chain

25 June 2012

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26 June 2012 | Kamalpreet Badasha

‘Sustainable packaging’ is no longer a viable term unless all stages of the supply chain have been considered, according to a PwC report.

The Sustainable packaging: myth or reality, revisiting the debate two years on said to reduce environmental impact use of resources should be minimised, product waste reduced, transport used efficiently, and recycling and disposal of packaging effective.

The report found that the consensus among key stakeholders was that decisions made at any point in the supply chain would impact the lifecycle of a product and its packaging. It went on to say that efficient packaging solutions would be influenced by factors including: materials cost; consumer demand for convenience; and new technologies that are helping to develop packaging materials. For example, paper manufacturer UPM has developed fibril cellulose, which is derived from wood and makes products tougher, lighter and thinner. And Anne Roulin, head of packaging and design at Nestlé, said: “We have better tools available to analyse environmental impact than ever before. Lifecycle assessment is the tool of choice, and it is fully embedded into our R&D processes.”

The report interviewed nine senior representatives from: ACE UK (Alliance for Beverage Cartons and the Environment), Diageo, INCPEN (Industry Council for Packaging and the Environment), Marks & Spencer, Nestlé, Procter & Gamble and Rexam. These covered four key stakeholder groups: packaging manufacturers, FMCG companies, retailers, government and trade bodies. It also sourced material from PwC publications, the EU Commission’s website and analyst sources including Datamonitor and Katar.

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