Sustainable packaging presents opportunities within businesses’ broader sustainability policies. An analysis conducted by The New Plastics Economy reveals that 95% of all plastic packaging materials in the world - with an estimated total value of 80-120 billion dollars - is lost every year. A more circular approach offers businesses opportunities to utilise this value instead. When making packaging materials more sustainable, it is essential to take a business’ strategy into account. After all, the optimal integration of sustainable packaging solutions requires good coordination between policy and innovation.
Making packaging materials more sustainable can - directly or indirectly - contribute to the sustainability policy and targets pertaining to other themes, including:
- CO2 emission and climate change;
- food waste;
- scarcity of raw materials;
- waste and litter;
- particulate matter and smog;
- social sustainability, inclusivity and fair trade;
- health and food safety.
Which themes are most relevant may differ per business and per brand. Every business must make its own considerations in this regard. Whereas one business strives to comply with applicable laws and regulations, another views sustainability as a form of value creation and strives to play a leading role in this regard.
Coordination between company policy and brand positioning means that a business can put brands on the market that each incorporate sustainability differently and support specific themes. An important point of attention is the potential complexity of using the same production facilities for various brands. This makes it harder to realise the sustainability measures and make the required modifications to the packaging process, because it requires the other brands to change accordingly.
Efforts to make packaging materials more sustainable must fit within a business’ policy and brand strategy, because the investments that may be required can only be justified if the packaging solutions strengthen the proposition and create value for the business. Furthermore, the value of sustainable product-packaging combinations is improved for consumers as well if these are in line with the values of the organisation and the brand. The stronger the match between the sustainable product-packaging combination and the story behind it, the more likely consumers are to pick up on and understand it. This creates a positive image for the product, brand and organisation.
Policy and strategy
Businesses that develop effective and sustainable product-packaging combinations view sustainability as a strategic opportunity and as part of their value-creation process. It is important to integrate sustainable packaging into your organisation’s policies.
To do so, you must first of all know about the laws and regulations pertaining to the sustainability of packaging materials. Furthermore, it is good to be aware of the latest developments and opportunities concerning sustainable packaging solutions. This allows you to determine how your organisation can take advantage of these opportunities with suitable packaging strategies and/or new business models.
When developing new sustainable packaging materials, you must at the very least consider how it fits within the context of laws and regulations, organisational policies and sustainability, business models and future scenarios.