Creative solutions could lead to greener packaging | 2021-10-01
LAS VEGAS – Packaging plays a vital role for consumers in ensuring product and consumer safety, but the need for recyclable, reusable and compostable packaging is urgent to help protect the planet.
“In designing optimal packaging, we don’t over-design where we create too much packaging waste, but we also don’t under-design where you get too much spoilage or damage in transit,” David Clark, vice president, sustainability, Amcor, told a crowd of people standing at Pack Expo Las Vegas, held Sept. 27-29. “And we are working really hard to minimize the amount of waste caused by both the packaging and the products they deliver in that packaging.”
But getting to a place where all packaging offers an environmental solution is difficult. Successful recycling programs require good government policy, funding, and consumer participation. It’s a tough sell, although countries around the world are turning the tide when it comes to recycling.
“In Europe, there is the circular economy directive which says that by 2030 all products put on the market will have to be recyclable, reusable or compostable, otherwise you will not be able to sell them,” said Mr. Clark. “So this harmonization is happening much more quickly in Europe. “
He highlighted the extended producer responsibility fees in which the cost of recycling materials is passed on to the companies that make these products.
“If you make a product that is difficult to recycle, you are going to pay higher costs,” he explained.
Most Canadian provinces have these fees, Clark said. Maine and Oregon have also passed legislation to impose these fees, although they have not yet taken effect. And the idea was discussed at the federal level.
“It is happening, and we think it will accelerate,” he said. “I think that’s going to be one of the things we will deal with in the future. The design of our packaging will be guided by this idea. If it’s easier to recycle, it’s worth more. If it’s a more valuable package, you’re going to pay less in fees and it’s going to change the whole value proposition for what’s going on in our industry.
He pointed out that the process can take several years to resolve issues, and he urged people in the packaging industry to help educate consumers as companies move towards greener packaging.
“I hope this inspires some of you to work together on this same path so that we can get to the point where packaging is seen as an environmental solution and an environmental benefit protecting the products that go into our packaging, protecting protecting consumers and the environment, ”said Clark said.