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. History In the 1970s the packaging...
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Page 2: Challenges

For economic reasons, companies  design packaging to use just enough, and no more, material than is needed to ensure that goods survive the distribution chain and are delivered to consumers in good condition. In developing countries, up to 50% of food is wasted on the journey from farm to shop. In Western Europe less than 3% goes to waste. However, companies are also faced with the problem...
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Page 3: The environmental impact of packaging

Choice of packaging type is made on the basis of a series of trade-offs between many factors, particularly between the amount of packaging and likely product wastage. Manufacturers of goods look for a balance between: protecting their goods (the cost of damaged goods or the danger from spoilt foods is far worse for the environment than using a small amount of extra resources to make a stronger...
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Page 4: Managing waste

The concentration on packaging as waste has led to two separate issues being confused: the need to design good packaging systems that get products from manufacture to consumption with the minimum necessary expenditure of resources the need to invest in modern solid waste management techniques so that we can reduce the environmental impact of ALL waste, not just packaging. This confusion has...
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Page 5: How legislation can restrict trade

In 1991, Germany introduced a law that set a quota for the percentage amount of drinks that were allowed to be sold in non-refillable containers.  This law requires that at least 72% of drinks have to be in refillable bottles. Other European countries argued that this was a barrier to trade, on the basis that,  if their drinks had to be packed in refillable containers (which are...
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Page 6: Conclusion

Today, INCPEN’s major challenge is to develop effective working partnerships with the regulators to ensure that policy on packaging aligns more closely with the major challenges of sustainable development, rather than simply seeking to reduce the quantities of packaging materials used. Current restrictive laws on packaging need to be replaced with policies that enable companies to develop...
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Related: Travis Perkins
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