Sustainability is top of mind for packaging suppliers and brands alike. As consumer demand for green options continues to increase, CPGs also face pressures from emerging regulations pertaining to certain packaging materials and waste. Brands need to make informed decisions and proactively consider not only sustainable solutions, but also how they can collaborate and communicate with consumers and tackle challenges to create a green future.

Fighting Food Waste

Sustainability goes beyond offering a recyclable package. A recent study by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research showed that one-tenth of overall global greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture could be traced back to food waste. Flexible packaging plays a pivotal role in reducing this and preventing these emissions. A study conducted by the Flexible Packaging Association found that, when properly applied, flexible packaging can vastly extend food’s shelf life and reduce waste. For example, ground beef stayed fresh for 23 days with the use of flexible packaging versus 14 without, and broccoli maintained freshness for 20 days as opposed to only six.

Selecting Sustainable Solutions

With options such as compostability becoming more common, brands should understand and consider all flexible packaging solutions currently available. Recyclable and compostable packaging, though sustainable, are very different. While recycling takes existing materials, processes them and then creates a new product, composting involves breaking down products into organic and inorganic compounds. Compostable materials typically break down within 90 days but often require industrial composting.

Brands should consider which material is most realistic not only from a converting standpoint, but is also supported by infrastructure for proper disposal. If consumers aren’t able to access a recycling or composting center, these packages will likely end up in a landfill until new disposition paths can be created. 

Consumer Communication & Education

Offering consumers sustainable packaging, whether recyclable or compostable, is largely ineffective if they aren’t aware of these features. Brands need to clearly communicate sustainable messages on packaging, as well as the proper means of disposal. Programs, such as How2Recycle, educate consumers on recycling efforts and subsequent improvements in the reclamation process as messaging is displayed directly on packaging. Clear communication allows consumers to make an informed decision when disposing of packaging and can actively do so in a sustainable fashion.

Collaboration is Key

One of the most notable features of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainability is goal 17, which was created to “strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development.” Packaging suppliers, converters, manufacturers and brands play an active role in achieving this goal as they band together to create and implement sustainable solutions for the future. It is through proactive partnerships that sustainable solutions, like the recyclable Bear Naked Granola pouch, become possible.

Flexible packaging can be designed for continued benefit to consumers with minimal waste. By considering key sustainability initiatives, brands not only meet the consumers’ needs but also the environment’s. As an industry frequently finds its products in landfills, we now have the opportunity to revolutionize flexible packaging for a sustainable future.