In a recent presentation at the Utilizing Packaging and its evolving trends to Maximize Profits: Innovation and Sustainability In Packaging conference, Dr Inka Crosswaite, a South African cultural insight and semiotics specialist with a Doctorate in Social Anthropology from the University of Cape Town, identified what the world means by ‘sustainability’.
She also showed how we are seeing sustainability manifest in how brands are communicating and positioning themselves today, most noticeably through packaging, and identified several new emerging trends in sustainable packaging.
“‘Sustainability’ is beginning to shape consumer behaviour, slowly but surely, she said. For consumers, some choices are more ‘sustainable’ than others – the word either reinforcing a positive feeling, or eliminating or reducing a negative feeling,” she said.
“One of the areas where brands can improve their sustainability credentials is packaging. So much so that the Sustainable Packaging Coalition (http://www.sustainablepackaging.org) has published a concise definition of what it expects from brands claiming to be packaged in sustainable packing.
“According to the SPC, packaging can only be sustainable if it:
· Is beneficial, safe and healthy for individuals and communities throughout its life cycle.
· Meets market criteria for performance and cost.
· Is sourced, manufactured, transported and recycled using renewable energy.
· Maximises the use of renewable or recycled source materials.
· Is manufactured using clean production technologies and best practices.
· Is made from materials healthy in all possible end-of-life scenarios.
· Is physically designed to optimise materials and energy.
· Is effectively recovered and utilised in biological and/or industrial closed loop cycles.”
Crosswaite identified several sustainable packaging trends already seen on world shelves. There’s the rise of digital, the power of pouches, labelling for recovery, utilising new materials, , downsizing product packaging in terms of formats and materials as well as concentrates, packaging on demand, the return of paper, reusable and refillable packs, recyclable packs, made from recycled materials, and biodegradable or compostable packs.
Examples of these include:
· Power of pouches – Kraft YES Pack
The packaging waste occupies 50% less landfill space. Transportation of film involves 70% fewer CO2 emissions. Made with 6 oz less water per 2/1-gal case. Discarded materials take up 86% less container space
· Labelling for recovery – Modern Spirits
Modern Spirits uses labels made from 100% post-consumer waste. The new labels, made from recycled paper stock, present a good appearance and feel, take ink well, and exhibit high tolerance to shipping and handling conditions
· Downsizing product packaging: formats and materials – Marks & Spencer
The company introduced skin pack for meats which apart from using less material keeps the meat fresher for an extra 5 days
· Downsizing product packaging: concentration – Charmin
Compact toilet paper: 12 mega roles equal 48 regular rolls of toilet paper. The company claims that if 1 million consumers switched from Regular Charmin to Mega it would save 85 000 gallons of diesel fuel and eliminate 500 000 pounds of trash and packaging
· New packaging materials – Pantene Pro-V Nature Fusion
The hair care line introduced a plant-based bottle that is made out of sustainable sugarcane-derived plastic. It will consume over 70 percent less fossil fuels and release over 170% less greenhouse gases per ton
· The return of paper – Keienburg GmbH
The cardboard can developed by Keienburg in Germany enables a greener and cheaper packaging process for carbonated drinks
· Reusable and refillable packs – KFC
‘Reuse. Renew. Rejoice’ is KFC pay off line for their reusable containers which are both dishwasher safe and microwaveable
· Recyclable packs – GreenBottle
GreenBottle is recyclable, compostable and biodegradable – a ‘Planet Friendly’ alternative
to plastic bottles
· Made from recycled materials – EarthBoundFarm organic vegetables
Ebfarm’s switch saved 424 224 million BTUs of energy, avoided 16 191 tons of carbon dioxide emissions, saved 68 307gallons of water, kept 1 308 623 pounds of solid waste out of the landfill
· Biodegradable or compostable packs – SunChips
SunChips uses 100% compostable packaging for its Original flavour SunChips® snacks