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Sustainable Packaging Status Report - 2007

Sustainable packaging survey reports knowledge gap hinders faster sustainability adoption in manufacturing, packaging and retailing

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Sustainable Packaging 2007

Packaging industry status regarding sustainable packaging knowledge and action was sponsored by Packaging Digest, Sustainable Packaging coalition and GreenBlue in early 2007. Research was undertaken to gain a better understanding of Packaging Digest subscriber’s awareness and adoption levels of sustainability in the packaging industry.

"450 ppm is the most significant number to humanity"

According to Anne Johnson, Director of Sustainable Packaging Coalition, the study is a timely canary. "At the recent Ceres conference in Boston, author Bill McKibben cited that 450 ppm is the most significant number to humanity. It is the level of CO2 in the atmosphere associated with a 2-deg-C increase in global temperature beyond which point scientists believe we enter the realm of "dangerous" climatic consequences. At the current rate of annual increase, that's only 32 years away—not considering a more industrialized China or India."

The downloadable PDF report on Sustainability in Packaging is available for your bedside reading.

  • About 80% of the total participants in this study expressed at least some familiarity with the topic of sustainability in the packaging industry. However, only 8% mentioned being very familiar with the toMost respondent felt that the emphasis on sustainable packaging has increased within the last year with the about two-thirds mentioning that they have taken at least some action related to sustainability within that same time frame. However, there was no agreement on any of the actions taken suggesting that there is still no real consensus amongst the packaging industry as it relates to sustainability activities.
  • More respondents view sustainability as an environmental versus economic initiative at present.
  • As a continued sign of increased importance, sustainable design was seen as being a very or somewhat important factor in making packaging decisions. This is corroborated by the fact that 87% of respondents mentioned at least some portion of their current customers are asking for / requiring sustainable packaging.
  • Trade / industry publications were seen as the most credible source for acquiring information related to sustainability with about half or respondents mentioning this source most. Trade associations and manufacturers were seen as credible by 46% and 43% respectively.For those responding, about two-thirds have some metric in place to measure their success with sustainability. However, there was no real unity amongst answers with source reduction (13%) being the most common metric used. Similarly, when asked about additional resources needed to help reach sustainability goals, the most common answer was related to needing more information (11%). Again, this suggests a very fragmented understanding of the definition of sustainability in the packaging industry.
  • There were no significant differences between responses from manufacturers versus end users in this study. There were slight, directional differences noticed in a couple of areas. First, slightly more end-users viewed sustainability as an economic initiative. Next, manufacturers had a slightly higher rate of customers asking for / requiring sustainable packaging (as a percentage of all their customers). Last, end users viewed manufacturers, educational institutions, and trade shows as moderately more credible in terms of a source of information about sustainability.

Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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