In 2018, the Flexible Packaging Association (FPA) commissioned PTIS, LLC to provide a holistic view on the sustainability benefits that flexible packaging offers. The resulting report, A Holistic View of the Role of Flexible Packaging in a Sustainable World, achieved this goal while also providing foresight into future sustainability implications of these versatile materials.
Included in the report were six Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) case studies comparing flexible packaging to other packaging formats across a range of products. An LCA is a method for characterizing impacts associated with the sourcing, manufacturing, distributing, using, and disposing of a product or product system.
The FPA’s recently published brochure, "Sustain the World: the Case for Flexible Packaging," presents all six LCA case studies in abbreviated form, each of which evaluates common packaging formats for their environmental impacts with a cradle-to-grave boundary. The products used in the case studies span multiple market segments, including coffee, motor oil, baby food, laundry detergent, cat litter, and juice.
The LCA case studies were developed using the EcoImpact-COMPASS LCA software, which allows for quick life cycle comparisons between different packaging formats. The results from the case studies show that flexible packaging has more favorable environmental attributes for carbon impact, fossil fuel usage, water usage, product-to-package ratio, as well as the amount of packaging material going to the landfill when compared to other packaging formats for the same products.
Flexible packaging offers exceptional environmental benefits to converters, manufacturers, retailers, and consumers alike. As the case studies in the brochure illustrate, flexible packaging generally uses less energy and fewer resources over its life cycle. It produces less CO2 emissions, improves productto- package ratio, requires fewer trucks on the road for transport, and provides numerous safety and consumer convenience features. Flexible packaging is an excellent, sustainable choice, creating more value and a smaller footprint.
The path forward for flexible packaging will require industry collaboration, which will help develop next generation technologies that can bolster sustainability. From bio-based materials and consumer education to mono-material recyclable structures and recycling infrastructure, we look forward to