Packaging facilitates the delivery and distribution of products to the end consumer. Its functionality is vital for the maintenance of these products. The problem is that after its usage, packaging produces a lot of waste that the communities need to manage.
The United Nations estimates that the population of the planet will grow from 6.9 billion in 2010 to 9.2 billion by 2050, roughly a 33% increase in global population*. Efficient and sustainable practices are essential to meet the ever-growing demand for goods.
It is very important that packaging enters a sustainable economic system. This starts with the individual with well-paid employment, an infrastructure that allows collection and recyclability,
and measurable environmental performance.
Corporate social responsibility, accountability, and fair wages all contribute to creating a more sustainable system.
So, what is considered sustainable packaging?
The Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC)** created a definition that takes into consideration industrial ecology objectives with business strategies that address the environmental concerns related to the life cycle of packaging.
Here is their description of sustainable packaging:
A. Is beneficial, safe & healthy for individuals and communities throughout its life cycle,
B. Meets market criteria for performance and cost,
C. Is sourced, manufactured, transported, and recycled using renewable energy,
D. Optimizes the use of renewable or recycled source materials,
E. Is manufactured using clean production technologies and best practices,
F. Is made from materials healthy throughout the life cycle,
G. Is physically designed to optimize materials and energy,
H. Is effectively recovered and utilized in biological and/or industrial closed-loop cycles.
An important means to build a sustainable packaging strategy is the education of staff, suppliers, consumers, and regulators. People need to be sensitised to encourage transformation towards a better future. The aim of having a regulation in place is to implement a framework that facilitates the packaging supply chain improving materials, and enable sustainable alternatives to be developed with minimal additional cost.
The use of renewable materials from well-managed sources reduces dependence on non-renewable resources and uses current photosynthesized carbon to create raw materials that have the potential to be greenhouse gas neutral.
Improving communication through the value chain is another strong point of building a strategy. For instance, when launching a new material on the market, there should be a clear FTC guideline creation on how to recycle it.
In conclusion, there are many ways of preparing a sustainable packaging strategy. Active collaboration with businesses, communities, and governments will ensure a successful way of preserving materials, enhancing the economy, and improving lifestyle.
*Population Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations Secretariat. World Population Prospects: The 2008 Revision and World Urbanization Prospects: The 2008 Revision, 2010. United Nations. December 17, 2010. https://population.un.org/wup/DataQuery/