This week I ordered a mascara from a well known French make-up brand and eagerly awaited its arrival (with my three free tester items). As I opened a beautifully branded almost shoe box size package it hit me. The packaging was pretty ridiculous for the size of goods it delivered. It also had no markings on the box to say whether it was recyclable or not. This made me think. Why aren’t manufacturers ensuring the package not only fits the product but ensures it’s sustainable and recyclable at the same time?
When China stopped the import of 24 kinds of solid waste from foreign countries (including plastics, paper products, and textiles) from January 2018, there was uncertainty around what the UK would do with our masses of waste. As our top destination for plastic waste questions around increased landfill and incineration were rife, but Michael Gove (the then environment secretary) made assurances that other countries like Vietnam, India and Turkey would take up the slack. And they did. But many south-east Asian countries have since introduced their own restrictions. Shipping the waste to other countries isn’t a long-term solution.
We’re living in a climate emergency and people now worry more about the environment than ever. If we can’t re-use it, re-purpose-it or recycle-it, should we accept it as consumers? Manufacturers please take note. The average household in the UK already produces more than a tonne of waste every year. This is no small problem.
Some brands are already working on solutions to make a difference. And they should as, according to the World Economic Forum, consumers are willing to pay more for manufactured goods and services from sustainable companies. Great news as sustainable packaging is good for a number of other reasons, here’s our top three:
Sustainable packaging shows Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)
Being socially accountable with a robust CSR policy demonstrates an organisations commitment to enhancing the environment and society, not contributing to negatively to them. CSR is good for business for a number of reasons, from a brand - and employer brand - perspective, for consumer loyalty, for innovation (striving to do better) and cost savings (not least less packaging = less cost).
Customer, retailer and employee expectations
People expect brands to do their bit for the environment. – whether they’re buying from, distributing or working for them. Wrapping bananas in plastic seems like a complete waste of time, well, because it is. With the increase in online shopping, wrapping goods in plastic packaging is equally poor. Sadly it’s noticeable when brands are the exception. I was pleased when another recent order made from a Swedish fashion retailer came in a recyclable package (sadly notable by exception), a far cry from one of its UK competitors who are still using plastic packaging.
Developing more innovative ways of packaging products could mean a significant reduction in an organisation’s carbon footprint. Greenhouse gas emissions produced contribute to global warming and consumers’ care. Sustainable packaging can minimise the impact on the environment, protect goods from damage in transit and actually reduce materials used and their weight (in turn saving cost and reducing transport emissions). There are many options on the market and leaders in the sustainable packaging field and they’re the businesses we want to work with and buy from.
Organisations who continue to see the potential profit and associated perks on offer through using sustainable packaging solutions are those who are going to develop a competitive edge. Being a positive influence on the environment, with a desire to be and do better, through innovation and action will help us all preserve the planet in our purchasing without costing the earth.
Allen & York – delivering Sustainable Recruitment Solutions since 1993.