Packaging Sustainability Assessment

Plastic pollution and consumers’ environmental awareness are driving businesses to adopt new strategies to safely deliver their products. However, capturing the sustainability and circularity credentials of packaging is still a challenge, and existing methodologies are limited in scope. There is a clear need to go beyond current assessment boundaries to create an all-encompassing framework. That is why companies across the value chain have come together in this workstream to develop a guide for holistic environmental assessment of packaging.

    The challenge

    Around 40% of the plastic produced globally is used for packaging applications, and plastic packaging capital cost generated by its negative impact on the environment has been valued conservatively by UNEP at USD $40 billion. With these costs projected to grow, it is clear that we need to rethink the linear packaging value chain strategies. However, a lack of common understanding about how to assess plastic packaging alternatives prevents companies from identifying priorities for action and scaling up circular and sustainable solutions. 

    The business case

    A widely accepted overarching framework for environmental assessment is crucial to shape the future of circular and sustainable packaging and drive long-term business value creation. Identifying hotspots where companies can concentrate their efforts can support them to tangibly reduce the environmental footprint of their packaging in line with their sustainability strategies. A holistic assessment can help ensure that today’s packaging decisions do not create new environmental problems elsewhere in the future. 

    The solution

    By nesting all aspects of environmental packaging sustainability under a common framework and consolidating all the relevant and available information in one place, we establish a common language for companies to address the environmental impact of packaging. The framework supports companies in their objective decision-making process for packaging materials or delivery systems, informing priorities for action and allowing the monitoring of performance and progress over time. 

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