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The Hard Road to Sustainable Packaging

The Hard Road to Sustainable Packaging

Recently, more companies are making moves to adopt a more environmentally-friendly packaging. This is actually a great move for their reputation and the environment. However, the big question is “what impact would adopt the environmentally-friendly packaging have on all the supply chain links?”

For instance, the UK government’s recent pledge to eliminate plastic waste by 2042 coupled with the increasing consumer pressure has forced both most business owners and retailers to have a rethink about the sustainability of their packaging.

As a result, most business brands, including Iceland, Deliveroo, and McDonald’s, and retailers have taken steps to either go plastic free or to use 100% sustainable packaging.

Notwithstanding the benefits this move may bring to the brand’s reputation and the environment at large, adopting this sustainable packaging must be done with careful consideration.

Almost all the entire facets of the supply chain are affected by the packaging – this shows the importance of packaging. However, considering the ever-changing public opinion and the intricate complexities in packaging manufacturing, packaging manufacturers are faced with the problem of determining which new packaging material is the best to invest in.

Tracy Sutton stated that “business brands are nervous about adopting a new material or investing in developing a new packaging material since they don’t really know how successful the new packaging material would be.”

Barrington Pamplin had also stated that “due to the push for light-weighting packaging materials, packages and brands adopted the plastic packaging over the glass bottle ones. But the plastic packaging is on now the blacklist.

The so-called recyclable and sustainable packaging materials, such as the bioderived and biodegradable plastics, which packagers look to adopt over the fossil fuel-based plastics, are not actually widely recycled, instead, they are only collected as general waste.

Barrington Pamplin said packaging materials that can be recycled should be clearly laid out as well as those materials that cannot be recycled. This will help brands to reduce any investment risk.

Furthermore, the transition to sustainable packaging can cost manufacturers a substantial amount.

For instance, in some certain places, recycling and waste collection are only coordinated by local authorities and not centrally. This creates inconsistencies as well as hinders closed-loop recycling of packaging materials.

Such a division in waste collection and recycling can make it more difficult for investment in recycling facilities, thereby causing more hindrance to material supply for packages.

More so, using new and recycled packaging materials are more expensive than virgin ones. This is because their cost of production is higher since they have a different scale of production, and additional development investment, as well as research, is needed to change the line of production.

It Takes More Time to Transit to a More Sustainable Packaging

Timescales for transiting to a more sustainable packaging may take up to about 2 years or more for larger firms because transiting may require some internal restructuring. For example, transiting to a pouch from a can requires a completely new line of production. More so, the brand needs to prove that the food safety, shelf life, food quality, and how the product travels are not badly affected by the new packaging.

Now that plastic packaging is considered the least sustainable packaging material. Banning it will definitely affect how we shop and how we feed ourselves. Hence, the way we shop and feed has to change to fit the new packaging system.

But is plastic packaging really that bad? After all, the plastic beer crates can be used for more than 15 years, ground when out of form and reformed again in less than an hour. Hence, some plastic are indeed recyclable, Yes!

Part of the problem with plastic packaging is that most people believed that, unlike aluminum and glass, plastic materials have no value so it should be thrown away after use rather than being recycled. However, it would be a very good idea if all compostable or renewable plastic packaging is widely recycled.



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