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Unwrapping Sustainable Packaging

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The beverages, beauty and personal care, home care, dog and cat food, and packaged food industries accounted for four trillion retail/off-trade packaging units in 2022, according to Euromonitor’s packaging data. However, most companies will hardly meet their 2025 sustainability commitments. Waste management efforts are under scrutiny, to comply with stricter legislation and to meet pushing consumer demands. Companies need to be part of the solution.

As this figure is expected to rise by 7% by 2025, creativity and innovation need to be focused on accelerating the transition towards more circular models to meet their sustainability pledges.

Consumers are willing, so help them to lead more sustainable lives

Global consumers are well-intentioned when it comes to sustainability, proactively recycling and adopting the “less is more” mindset by reducing plastic use.

60% of consumers reduce plastics use and 57% recycle items

Source: Euromonitor’s Voice of the Consumer: Sustainability Survey 2022

Yet, lack of infrastructure and product innovation in some countries limits consumer access to recycling and the option to use sustainable packaging. Challenges vary from market to market, so companies should rely on data-driven insights to address them more efficiently and improve brand reputation.

For instance, while Germany and South Korea have well-developed recycling systems, there’s a need for increasing the recycling capacity in the UK, Australia and the US as consumers are already recycling. In these markets, companies should also highlight their sustainable packaging features to increase consumer adoption. Finally, China and Japan present not only the largest infrastructure challenges but also the need to educate consumers as only a third of them recycle.

Unwrapping Sustainable Packaging Chart 1.svg

Enhance circular solutions to get closer to your company’s sustainability goals

Using product claims and packaging to communicate sustainability is on the rise, as more companies are backing-up their efforts on trusted certifications. Yet, the sustainable packaging group of claims has the lower number of online SKUs and represents less than 1% of the share of digital shelf in 2021, according to Euromonitor’s Opportunity Tracker, which scrapes sustainability online sales in 15 countries and seven industries.

There are growing efforts to tackle the issue; companies still need to accelerate the adoption of sustainable packaging globally. When comparing consumers’ desired packaging features versus online sustainable packaging product availability, most companies had focused mainly on offering “can be recycled” packaging. However, more efforts are needed to increase the availability of circular solutions like from recycled materials and refillable/reuseable packaging to meet consumers’ needs.

Breaking the “take-make-waste” system through collaboration, innovation and creativity is a key step for companies to boost their way towards achieving sustainability goals.

Unwrapping Sustainable Packaging Chart 2.svgNote 1: Recyclable packaging considers "Can be recycled" and "Widely recycled" claims; packaging made with recycled content considers "From recycled materials" and "Recycled PET" claims; paper packaging considers "FSC (Forest Stewardship Council)" claims; biodegradable packaging considers "Biodegradable" claims; refillable/reuseable packaging considers "Terracycle" claims; compostable packaging considers "Compostable" claims.
Note 2: Number of SKUs is the aggregation of SKUs with specific sustainable packaging claims from 15 markets (Australia, Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Poland, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, UK, USA) and seven industries (beauty and personal care, consumer health, pet care, snacks, cooking ingredients and meals, dairy products and alternatives, staple foods).

Consider lifecycle for innovative product development

It’s clear that companies are already aware of the importance of tackling sustainable packaging.

Two out of three professionals state their companies plan to use sustainable claims in new product launches

Source: Euromonitor International Voice of the Industry: Sustainability Survey 2022, fielded in January 2022

When thinking on new product developments, companies need to mind their whole supply chain impact and consider the product’s entire lifecycle to make informed and more impactful decisions.

To do so, companies should align to international standards to demonstrate transparency and traceability to meet stricter regulations. For instance, the UN’s Life Cycle Assessment aims to quantify all relevant emissions, resources, related environmental and health impacts and resource depletion issues associated in a product’s lifecycle.

By adopting a holistic view into the product development design process, companies could boost their sustainability efforts. Rethinking product packaging to be less harmful to the environment is a key step for companies to efficiently help the economy transition towards a circular model by maximising reused materials’ value while eliminating waste and cutting new resources costs.

Visit our Sustainability page for further insights on where to play and how to win with sustainable claims.


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