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Emerging Trends in Sustainable Packaging

Aug 23rd 2012, 07:56

Emerging Trends in Sustainable Packaging

In a recent presentation at the Utilizing Packaging and its evolving trends to Maximize Profits: Innovation and Sustainability In Packaging conference, Dr Inka Crosswaite, a South African cultural insight and semiotics specialist with a Doctorate in Social Anthropology from the University of Cape Town, identified what the world means by ‘sustainability’.

She also showed how we are seeing sustainability manifest in how brands are communicating and positioning themselves today, most noticeably through packaging, and identified several new emerging trends in sustainable packaging.

“‘Sustainability’ is beginning to shape consumer behaviour, slowly but surely, she said. For consumers, some choices are more ‘sustainable’ than others – the word either reinforcing a positive feeling, or eliminating or reducing a negative feeling,” she said.

“One of the areas where brands can improve their sustainability credentials is packaging. So much so that the Sustainable Packaging Coalition ( has published a concise definition of what it expects from brands claiming to be packaged in sustainable packing.

“According to the SPC, packaging can only be sustainable if it:

• Is beneficial, safe and healthy for individuals and communities throughout its life cycle.
• Meets market criteria for performance and cost.
• Is sourced, manufactured, transported and recycled using renewable energy.
• Maximises the use of renewable or recycled source materials.
• Is manufactured using clean production technologies and best practices.
• Is made from materials healthy in all possible end-of-life scenarios.
• Is physically designed to optimise materials and energy.
• Is effectively recovered and utilised in biological and/or industrial closed loop cycles.”

Crosswaite identified several sustainable packaging trends already seen on world shelves. There’s the rise of digital, the power of pouches, labelling for recovery, utilising new materials, , downsizing product packaging in terms of formats and materials as well as concentrates, packaging on demand, the return of paper, reusable and refillable packs, recyclable packs, made from recycled materials, and biodegradable or compostable packs.

While sustainable packaging technology makes it easier for FMCG brand owners to be environmentally conscious, it also provides them with greater opportunities to invest in packaging formats that engage consumers.

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