SPC releases sustainability metrics

Version 1.0 of the Sustainable Packaging Coalition’s new Metrics Framework is intended to standardize the measurement of sustainable packaging.


After nearly two years of extensive research and stakeholder engagement, the Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC) has released its Sustainable Packaging Indicators and Metrics Framework Version 1.0, designed to help companies measure progress toward the SPC definition of sustainable packaging

According to SPC, the Metrics Framework provides a wide-ranging palette of indicators and metrics that are organized into eight categories: material use, energy use, water use, material health, clean production and transport, cost and performance, community impact, and worker impact. Each framework module explains why the measurements are relevant to sustainability efforts, defines each indicator as it relates to packaging, specifies the metric to be used, and provides recommendations for what and what not to measure.

The technical document, based on international standards and protocols, was jointly developed by a group of stakeholders representing leadership companies throughout the packaging supply chain. A primary reason the SPC undertook the framework project, it says, was to respond to marketplace concerns about the proliferation of individual company sustainable packaging metrics and scorecards.

“Without consistent guidance, sustainability criteria vary significantly from one company to the next,” says GreenBlue senior fellow Katherine O’Dea, chief author of the framework. “This lack of coordination has made the data-collection process time-consuming and costly for suppliers, as well as making it difficult for companies to consistently benchmark their performance over time. Our hope is the Metrics Framework will standardize how the industry measures its progress toward making packaging more sustainable.”

Selected metrics from the Metrics Framework are also serving as the baseline for the Global Packaging Project (GPP), an initiative of the Consumer Goods Forum, that seeks to standardize packaging sustainability measurement by developing a globally recognized set of indicators and metrics with common data request and collection protocols.

Pilot testing of the GPP metrics is expected to begin in the first half of 2010. The SPC will follow the pilot testing process and incorporate feedback into a Version 2.0 of the Metrics Framework so that any indicator and metrics common to both resources will be compatible and consistent in terms of language, data request and collection guidelines, and referenced measurement standards and protocols.