Sustainability is more than just packaging, says report

A new report from PwC has found that the packaging industry is calling it a wrap with 'sustainability', looking for a braoder and deeper approach to the whole supply chain.

by Michael Northcott
Last Updated: 19 Aug 2013

The world’s environmentalists have spent a long time telling business about the virtues of recycling and only using packaging from responsibly managed or otherwise sustainable sources. But PwC today published research showing that retailers, manufacturers and even consumer groups see ‘sustainability’ in packaging as a ‘red herring’ term that should be scrapped in favour of directly tackling specific industry issues, and adopting a braoder and deeper approach to sustainability.

Organisations interviewed widely agreed that the term ‘sustainable packaging’ should be taken out of use, as it packages up a wide range of issues that all need more direct and specific attention. According to Malcolm Preston, PwC’s global sustainability leader, these issues include: ‘efficient products, efficient packaging, efficient transport and efficient end-of-life solutions’. 

The report comes just as Scotland looks to pass legislation requiring plastic carrier bags to be sold at five pence each, rather than given away for free. It is anticipated that such a change would reduce use by 80%, and the remainder would generate around £5m for charity. If anti-litter regulations such as this become more widespread, the repercussions on the packaging industry could be enormous, meaning innovation is required as soon as possible to combat the threat.

Changes to this important industry could mean that the perennial pleasure of popping bubble wrap is over. But businesses may save money in the long run by adopting new packaging technologies and a more thoroughly sustainable attitude. Thinking outside of the box, so to speak…

Driving a broader attitude to sustainability that includes the whole supply chain rather than just packaging is exactly the type of innovation that we are looking for in this year’s new awards. MT has paired up with Sky to bring the MT Sky Future Leaders Awards, which recognise potential for first class leadership in the field of sustainability.

To nominate yourself or a colleague for these awards, click here and find out more.

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