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.
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.
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.
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.