Packaging has a key role to play in helping society live more sustainably. It is a crucial part of the system for delivering products from their point of production to their point of consumption. We already have policies on Sustainable Production and Consumption. The link between production and consumption is distribution, and packaging’s role in Sustainable Distribution is vital.
For packaging, Sustainable Distribution means: -
- optimising the use of material, water and energy
- minimising waste from both product and used packaging
- maximising recovery of value from waste as material, energy or compost
To achieve this, packaging has to be designed taking into account its entire lifecycle and the characteristics of the product, the supply chain and the needs of consumers.
Looking at packaging in isolation ignores the ‘big picture’ requirements of sustainability. We need to look beyond narrow considerations such as packaging waste and recycling to consider all of the aspects including product wastage, water consumption, energy use and transport impacts.
Typically ten times the energy and resources go into producing the food and goods compared to their packaging. That comparatively small investment in packaging does an important job. It prevents food from going to waste and household goods being scrapped, and it is becoming even more important in modern society. Today more than 50% of the world’s people live in towns and cities and are increasingly reliant on sophisticated supply chains to feed and clothe themselves and run their homes.
THE PACKAGING AND PRODUCT SUSTAINABILITY CHAIN
No one buys packaging for its own sake – people buy food, drink and a host of other products to satisfy their needs and desires.
Packaging makes those purchases – and today’s lifestyles – possible, even for items like fruit and vegetables bought "loose” which must be packed for protection during shipment to the shops. While the consumer deals directly only with retailers and municipal waste authorities, packaging has a long and complex lifecycle, most of which, like an iceberg, remains hidden from view.
Each stage of the packaging and product lifecycle places different expectations and demands on packaging, all of which influence its design and determine its impact on sustainability.
PACKAGING’S CONTRIBUTION TO SUSTAINABLE PRODUCTION, DISTRIBUTION AND CONSUMPTION
INCPEN has a vision of the future where all production, distribution and consumption contribute to a truly sustainable society. It defines a sustainable packaging and product supply chain as a system that enables goods to be produced, distributed, used and recovered with minimum environmental impact at lowest social and economic cost.
INCPEN’s members aim to help consumers live more sustainable lifestyles. Click here for INCPEN's vision.