It is remarkable with the economy worldwide at its (probably) deepest point, that there is an avalanche in verbal positioning of multinationals and international organisations, to defend the status of the packaging industry, to pronounce their views for the future, to promote effective measurements for recycling and sustainability and in general to justify the overall use of packaging.

If you think the recession will temper consumer interest in sustainability, you think wrong. Packaging development programmes focussing on sustainability and degradability – in other words ‘green packages’ – will probably accelerate.

Why? Despite the economic recession, nearly 60 per cent of the consumers pay attention to the environmental friendliness of the food and drink packaging during their grocery shopping, claims a new survey released during the recent Anuga FoodTec in Cologne.

Why? Because, according to Tony Burns, associate director, sustainability, for Proctor & Gamble’s Global Package and Device Development (GPDD) group:
“About 80 percent of our consumers tell us that environmental sustainability is important. That [in] itself is reason for us to engage in this and to meet the needs of the consumers. They may not pay additional money right now for more sustainable packaging, but it’s important to them. Whatever benefits they are buying our brands for, we want to make sure that we package that in the most sustainable fashion possible.” and continues, “At times it does feel like packaging is becoming ‘the villain’, when in reality it is a small player in the overall environmental footprint of the product. However, viewed through the lens of our consumers, packaging is the first thing and also the last thing that they experience with our brands. Therefore if it is important to our consumers, then it is important to us.”

Why? Because when the US credit market collapsed, iconic institutions went belly up and corporations begged for handouts, something snapped in the public consciousness. Average people everywhere wanted someone or something to blame for the colossal mess, argues Mary Aichlmayr in her article “Can we live in a one-dimensional world?”
And continues to say (and I quote her in an edited version, cursive words are mine, to suit this blog):
“And, it changed everything.

Companies – the smart, perceptive ones, anyhow—started describing business objectives in three dimensions. Instead of focusing only on the financial bottom line—which consumers saw as the evil that got us into trouble—they used the term “triple bottom line.”

Turns out the phrase was coined back in 1994 by John Elkington, founder of London based business consultancy SustainAbility. He said there were three ways to measure a company’s progress: environmental impact, contribution to society and economic strength. Yes, that last one is profit – the original bottom line.

Clearly, one bottom line isn’t enough anymore. We now have three. Businesses have to think three dimensionally, linking disparate practices into one big survival strategy.

One-dimensional thinking is traditional, transactional and commodity focused. It’s the slap-and-ship mentality that says green is just a feel-good slogan. It’s appearance, not action. It’s talking, not doing.

Appearances only get you so far. The commitment has to be woven into the fabric of corporate strategy.

And, packaging plays a crucial role in a company’s long-term performance. Innovative and sustainable packaging design depends on simultaneously meeting the demands of three primary business dimensions: customers, employees and supply chain partners.

The buying public is sizing up your responsibility scorecard. The next generation of employees demands corporate accountability. Your supply chain partners just might force it on you”.
end quote Mary Aichlmayr

In our ongoing series of industry views which include (see previous posts) the visions of Dow Chemical in: “Dow Challenges Packaging Industry to Work Together Toward 100% Recyclability” and of IPPO in: “Packaging is the Answer to World Hunger”, we continue with the view of Dupont in the next post:
“Innovation is Key to Sustainable Packaging, DuPont Leader Tells Industry Experts”

Japanese Fashion: Recycled PET-bottles

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