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‘Encouraging’ status report on sustainable packaging

Europe – ‘€˜Progress is undoubtedly being made in spite of, or maybe even assisted by, the protracted economic downturn,’€™ states world leading professional services firm PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC) in its newest report on sustainable packaging, which was released in an attempt to ‘€˜reignite’€™ the debate the topic sparked two years ago.

The foundation of the research can be summed up in one question: ‘€˜We wondered if the turbulent times have affected the way sustainable packaging is perceived. Better put: were they a threat, an opportunity, or even a myth?’€™ Interviews with a select group of representatives across the industry’€™s key groups suggested that progress has been made lately in three vital areas: efficiency drives resulting in tangible initiatives; frameworks containing flexible structures of Key Performance Indicators; and shared understanding.

‘€˜The consensus around what represents sustainable packaging has developed significantly in the past few years,’€™ states one source, P&G’€™s Peter White. The group’€™s Global Sustainability Director explains that earlier intensive debates about lightweighting, recycled content and recyclability have been replaced by ‘€˜a more holistic view’€™ around packaging and their use from inception to post-consumer use.

But the firm adds: ‘€˜Globally, buying patterns have shifted and consumers tend to look for the best value for money, meaning that consumers are far less willing to pay a premium for greener products than they were before. Only two of the Big Four supermarkets in the UK (Waitrose and Sainsbury’€™s) say that environmentally friendly products are outselling expectations.’€™

Meanwhile, many Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) companies have invested heavily in product development and innovation, in turn yielding a close and on-going collaboration between retailers, suppliers and packaging manufacturers, the report indicates. Due to this development, the pace of substituting virgin materials with recycled ones has picked up significantly throughout the corrugated packaging industry. In some cases, however, this has resulted in tensions eventually met with compromises in terms of carbon footprinting and ethical sourcing, for example.

‘€˜We found that the direction of travel that the industry has taken towards most effective packaging solutions is encouraging,’€™ concludes the report. ‘€˜It remains to be seen if the new materials and technologies, coupled with new consumer trends and retail channels, will accelerate or sidetrack this journey.’€™

To view the full report, visit:

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