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Top 3 Most Pressing Issues and Solutions as CPGs Move to Sustainable Packaging

CPGs’ top solutions to smooth the transition to sustainable packaging include tweaking marketing language and standardizing recyclability measurements.

The most relevant sustainable packaging solutions to VISION 2030 participants were providing clearer information to consumers, standardizing recyclability, and collaborating with organizations outside the packaging value chain.
The most relevant sustainable packaging solutions to VISION 2030 participants were providing clearer information to consumers, standardizing recyclability, and collaborating with organizations outside the packaging value chain.
PMMI Business Intelligence: 2023 Moving to Sustainable Packaging: Closing the Innovation Gap

Transitioning to sustainable packaging can be a daunting task, but it is much easier with a bit of industry collaboration.

The industry stakeholders that participated in the VISION 2030 sessions at PACK EXPO Las Vegas 2023 shared their own views on the transition to sustainable materials, as reported in PMMI Business Intelligence’s 2023 report, “Moving to Sustainable Packaging – Closing the Innovation Gap.”

Tweaking marketing language for sustainable packaging

A total of 61% of participants, more than any other solution, suggested CPGs tweak their marketing language and consumer understanding of what they are getting with a given product.

One group made the analogy between sustainable packaging and the move toward more natural products in the food and grocery industries.

“We struggled with understanding what the CPG companies meant when they said this is a natural product. Natural didn’t really have any muscle behind it and it was squishy,” the spokesperson for that group explained.

Certified Organic standards have resulted in better customer buy-in, though, with customers more willing to pay more for a Certified Organic product than one labeled as natural, the spokesperson claimed. They added that the same principle can be applied to packaging, with circular or sustainable products certified and legitimized with some sort of stamp.

Standardization of Recycling Metrics

The next most pressing issue among participants at 53% was to standardize how recyclability is measured and defined.

One participant noted challenges juggling the different legislation and extended producer responsibility regulations across Europe and the U.S.

Another spoke about the need for more leadership to solve the challenges inherent in the transition to sustainable materials, calling for a “clear sustainability target for the industry,” with consistent tools and metrics.

“There are a thousand different tools. There are a thousand different benchmarks and getting alignment across the industry as to what the target is,” the participant said. “Is it carbon footprint? Is it recyclability? What exactly is that?”

The participant further stated that standardization on how recyclability is measured and defined would be useful. A show of hands indicated the room believed that a federal measure of carbon footprint was needed.

Collaboration needed outside the packaging value chain

Almost half (45%) of VISION 2030 participants agreed on the need for collaboration outside the packaging value chain to impact recyclability practices.

One spokesperson explained their group had discussed the topic of local recycling, and differences between municipalities.

They expressed that there needs to be collaboration at an industry level to bring collective power into the recycling space outside of the packaging value chain for greater impact.

SOURCE: PMMI Business Intelligence, 2023 Moving to Sustainable Packaging – Closing the Innovation Gap

For more insights from PMMI’s Business Intelligence team, find reports including “2023 Achieving Vertical Startups” and “2023 Building an Effective Talent Strategy for the Packaging Industry” at pmmi.org/business-intelligence.

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