FMI 2010: Is Sustainable Packaging Possible for Retailers and Manufacturers?
By Al McClain
At a Tuesday workshop at the FMI 2010 Customer Connect conference,
Keely Wheaton of Target, Anne Johnson of the Sustainable Packaging Coalition
and Paul Hepperla of Verisae discussed what’s being done to advance the
cause of sustainable packaging.
The panel identified numerous trends in this
- Packaging light-weighting
- Extended Producer Responsibility (with legislation in two states and pending
legislation in eight states)
- Growing consumer awareness of environmental and waste issues
- Increased focus on package recovery
- Increased use of sustainability metrics
- Growing use of lifecycle analysis
- Increasing demand for data and transparency
The panel talked about a voluntary effort by the Consumer Goods Forum
(a European trade association), working with the Food Marketing Institute and
the Grocery Manufacturers Association, to establish metrics on packaging sustainability.
Mr. Hepperla stressed that the players needed a better understanding of what
happens to consumer packaging in its lifecycle — i.e., how it is used
and where it winds up — so that they can establish baselines and metrics for
activities in this area, and make changes that can be measured.
The bottom line seems to be that manufacturers
and retailers, for the most part, agree that the environmental impact of packaging
needs serious rethinking. The sustainable packaging initiative aims
to address numerous components of the problem.
Discussion Questions: What retail or consumer products environmental packaging
initiatives are you aware of that are working? What suggestions do you have for
retailers and consumer products manufacturers?
Author’s comment: Meanwhile, as the industry forms sustainability plans, the
Pacific garbage patches continue to grow, a new garbage patch was recently
discovered in the Atlantic, and we’re
still throwing a lot of packaging that releases methane as it degrades into
landfills. For some encouraging news, we can look at countries like Belgium,
where there is an extraordinarily high recycling rate, and at initiatives like
that of sailor Mary Crowley (see link below) who has a fledgling campaign going
to actually get sailors to take their boats to the Pacific to help pick up
- Sustainable packaging doesn’t exist – Packaging Digest
- FMI Offers Members Free Online Carbon Calculator – New Resource from
Verisae Provides Opportunity for Retailers to Reduce Carbon Footprint – Food
- Sustainability Resource Planning – Verisae, Inc.
Find Atlantic Garbage Patch – SustainableBusiness.com
- A passion to clean up the Pacific Ocean’s great ‘garbage patch’- The
Christian Science Monitor