Packaging and sustainable development An INCPEN case study
Page 1: Introduction
Most companies that manufacture or use packaging accept that they need to produce and use it in ways that are environmentally, economically and socially responsible. This case study outlines the nature of that challenge and shows how the packaging industry has itself created a body that works to encourage responsible attitudes towards packaging in modern society.
In the 1970s the packaging industry faced a number of issues. The two oil crises of 1973 and 1978 produced a situation from which energy conservation became a top priority. Some companies appointed senior managers with the sole task of overseeing and controlling energy. Goods manufacturers and retailers were demanding ever lighter packs that would cut the amount of resources used in manufacture and the energy used in transportation. Environmental groups were using packaging in their campaigns as a symbol of the 'throwaway' society.
By the affluent 1980’s, the emphasis was shifting. What had been a serious energy problem had been replaced by what was seen as a solid waste dis-posal problem. People were less worried about the energy being used and more concerned about what happened to the waste. Environmental groups argued that packaging should be reduced to help solve the 'waste problem'.