Integrating Sustainability into the Supply Chain

July 26, 2019

July 26, 2019

“Better late than never,” as the saying goes. For decades, consumer brands have filled their demand using oversized boxes, harmful plastics, and other wasteful materials -- largely because the dangers were not yet known.

Those times have passed. As our landfills overflow and our carbon footprint becomes more apparent, industries the world over are working to change the paradigm of packaging. Saving the environment is now not only cool, but essential. Better late than never -- but we have a long way to go in reversing the course.

In 2018, more than 3.5 trillion units of global retail packaging contributed to “unsustainable use of natural resources and environmental waste,” according to Forbes. Materials like rigid plastics, metal, and glass pervade our daily lives. This is especially true in the food and beverage sector, which accounts for around 90% of retail packaging volume.

With that said, the rise of green consumerism is gathering steam at an accelerated rate. Practices like composting are becoming commonplace in some of the nation’s largest markets, along with a larger emphasis on recycling. And while some cities and companies were first on the scene, they are quickly legitimizing the movement and rewriting the rules of sustainability.

It’s a promising sign that, in the past few years alone, hundreds of consumer brands have heard the call for sustainable packaging. In the early days of “going green,” businesses may have shied away due to fear of rising costs or low customer adoption. For some it may have just seemed like too much work, or an unnecessary shift.

Today is a different story; there is a wealth of creativity and passion on display as companies big and small are doing their part. As quickly as sustainable materials are being researched and tested, diverse brands are integrating them in their supply chain, while others are reworking their current processes to reduce waste and harm to the environment.

Here are a few recent examples of consumer brand sustainability efforts:

  • Rothy’s, a footwear company, uses shoeboxes that are vegan, biodegradable, and made from 85% post-consumer recycled materials.
  • Aldi grocery stores in Germany now use compostable grocery bags designed to be 100% domestically compostable within a year.
  • Wada Farms, a potato distributor founded in 1943, has started using “Tater Made” bags that use potato starch biopolymers.
  • Nature’s Way recently announced packaging for its 300-plus item herbal line that is made of 97% post-consumer recycled high-density polyethylene.
  • Across its Western Europe distributors, Coca-Cola will start selling Honest, GlacéauSmartwater, and Chaudfontaine brands in bottles made from 100% recycled polyethylene terephthalate (or rPET).
  • Colgate recently introduced a 100% recyclable toothpaste tube, which will debut under the Tom’s of Maine brand in 2020 and be used for all Colgate toothpastes by 2025.
  • Danone relaunched its popular Oikos and Activia Greek 4-pack yogurts with smaller, thinner packages and a unique connector lid that reduced production costs in addition to waste.
  • SC Johnson has announced that Windex will soon be sold in bottles made entirely of plastic debris that is recovered from the ocean.
  • Starbucks is currently trial-testing greener cups that are both recyclable and compostable in several of its largest markets. The company is also rolling out lightweight, recyclable strawless lids to all its U.S. and Canada locations in the next year.

It’s inspiring to say the least, and this only scratches the surface. You can read about more examples over on Packaging World in the Sustainability section of their website.

The stories will continue. From the plastic straw ban in some cities, to the complete removal of single-use bags from certain grocery stores, each day brings a new layer to the sustainability movement.

LocatorX is proud to support all the consumer brands and package distributors that are making sustainable packaging a priority. We look forward to working with these businesses and pushing the sustainability initiative forward.

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