BY GAIL BARNES
October saw sustainability professionals from the United States as well as from around the world gather in Charlotte, North Carolina for the SPC Advance Conference, a GreenBlue/Sustainable Packaging Coalition members-only plus guests event.
“We are delighted to continue the conversation around sustainable packaging improvements and see how our members are progressing in this area,” said GreenBlue and Sustainable Packaging Coalition executive director Nina Goodrich. “SPC Advance is an amazing opportunity to gather different members of industry, academia, and government together to share perspectives, knowledge, and insight into sustainability.”
Food waste – a hot topic
According to Kathleen Sayler, assistant director of the EPA’s Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery, 44% of US greenhouse gas emissions come from products and packaging and an astounding $11,402,020,357 of packaging is wasted in the US per year. As a result, within their sustainable packaging priority, the EPA has identified three critical action areas:
Sayler also shared that, currently in the US, over 30% of edible food goes to waste, resulting in significant social, economic and environmental costs, and it is estimated that Americans waste 141 trillion calories of food annually at a cost of over $161bn dollars. Food production accounts for 50% of land use, 80% of freshwater consumption, and 10% of total energy use in the United States. Food, when disposed, is a large contributor to the 18% of total methane emissions that come from landfills each year. Consequently, under their sustainable food management priority, the EPA has identified four critical action areas:
Consumers should not have to choose between affordable and sustainable products
Walmart senior sustainability manager Ashley Hall said that customers should not have to choose between products that they can afford and products that are better for them and the environment. She emphasised Walmart’s focus on selling products in recyclable packaging, and stated that the company has made packaging made with recycled content a priority.
When it comes to federal trade commission compliance and substantiating data, be specific
From the presentation of Laura Koss, assistant director of the Federal Trade Commission, the US governmental perspective can be summarised as:
Packaging is the gateway to the consumer
“Packaging is a gateway to our consumers,” stated Kim Carswell, group manager for Target, in an eloquent description of how a brand owner could view packaging. She continued saying that Target likes to give consumers alternative options for the products’ and packaging’s end-of-life instead of the materials having to go to landfill, and that Target is constantly asking how its designs influence end-of-life.
Packaging is the consumer’s last experience with the brand
Amy Duquette, sustainability project manager at HAVI Global Solutions, which represents the packaging department of McDonald’s, said that packaging is the consumer’s last experience with the brand, and that experience should be as positive as possible. Through mechanics such as the How2Recyle Label, brands can empower consumers to do the right thing, in this case recycle packaging.
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2019