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80% Of Packaging Professionals Unconvinced By Supply Chain Sustainability

Eight out of ten packaging professionals (83%) think their business’s supply chain is either not as sustainable as it could be or not sustainable at all, according to a survey of senior industry leaders carried out at the SPC Impact 2023 conference in Texas.

The poll of experts from a range of global brands, conducted by packaging sustainability consultancy Aura, also found that one in five (22%) are currently unsure if their company is on track to meet its announced sustainability targets.

With the UK Government still on course to deliver Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) in 2024, and at least fourteen US States set to have full Extended Producer Responsibility Schemes in 2027, the research suggests packaging is still an area of concern.

More than half of industry leaders (61%) say their brands are only educating the public on packaging sustainability with information on the packaging itself, rather than investing in marketing campaigns or other channels to bring the message home.

Three-quarters (74%) also feel either that there’s room for improvement when it comes to having good enough data on the environmental impact of their packaging, or that they lack that data entirely.

Greg Lawson, managing director at Aura, said: “With new legislation on packaging on the horizon in multiple territories, it seems a lot of packaging professionals remain unconvinced about whether their supply chain has what it takes to ensure greater sustainability."

“Data is at the core of both making packaging more environmentally-friendly and recyclable, and ensuring brands make the right upstream decisions. Meanwhile, better education on sustainability is vital to ensure consumers make the right choices and don’t, for example, try to compost packaging that is not compostable.”

The survey also revealed that most industry leaders (52%) think a genuine circular economy for packaging is still twenty years away, while a quarter (26%) don’t see it happening for a terrifying fifty years or more.

Lawson concludes: “If brands want to meet their sustainability targets – and it sounds like many of them may be struggling – they’re going to have to up their game when it comes to tracking their packaging."

“The industry can no longer rely on packaging optimization after the fact, we need to put controls in place that reference data to drive the right decision making and ensure the right packaging enters our waste streams."

“It’s the only way we’re going to progress towards a circular economy and deliver that in less than fifty years. The fact many in the industry still think it will take that long is deeply concerning.”


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