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FLEXO Magazine : Sustainable Fall 2010
What is sustainability? The ques- tion has plagued the packag- ing industry since the term was first uttered earlier in the decade. Since that time, many printers/converters have gone to great lengths to reduce their car- bon footprint, reduce waste and increase recycling efforts, and responsibly source materials and work with substrates that have less environmental impact. Walmart unveiled its Score Card to a scared and confused industry. Certifying bodies like the Sustainable Green Printing (SGP) Partnership have popped up to help measure the various efforts taken to improve sustainability. But for the package buying industry at large, there seems to be very little common direction. That is, until November of 2008, when Tesco plc CEO Sir Terry Leahy and Unilever CEO Paul Pol- man initiated The Global Packaging Project. These two men had identified the need in the packaged goods industry for a "common language" for sustainability. The goal: to allow for intelligent and informed debate be- tween and within companies on the topic. The project brought together existing work taking place across the globe, includ- ing input from works by ECR Europe, EUROPEN, the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) and the Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC). What follows is a summary of the output of the project as of June 2010. For a more in depth understanding of the princi- ples, indicators and metrics it is recommended that compa- nies consult the additional project material and the source documents used for this project. These can be found on the project website at http://globalpackaging.mycgforum.com/. INTRODUCTION Packaging plays a critical role in the consumer goods in- dustry. It protects and preserves products and raw materials as they transit through supply chains. By its nature packaging is very visible and in a world of scarce resources, it is something that attracts the attention of consumers, the media and environmentalists. They often challenge us to address it. The industry has a responsibility to review the packaging it uses and to ensure that any negative impact arising from its production or disposal is minimized. But this analysis of impacts must be done in the round. It must include the impact of product losses that may result from the use of too little packaging as well the impacts of using too much. Finding the balance between under-packaging and over-packaging is the aim for all businesses. Packaging spans the entire value chain and is a shared responsibility for all trading partners. To be able to address this responsibility effectively, trad- ing partners need to have a common way of talking about packaging and sustainability. This project delivers to the • Consumers and regulators want consistency of infor- mation, including clarifcation on what packaging can and can’t be recycled. • Businesses judge the environmental sustainability of their products from different perspectives and use different approaches. • A more unifed approach to a packaging and sus- tainability measurement system will enable organi- zations to work together more effectively, realize new opportunities and manage risks. Speaking Green Consumer Goods Forum Products Releases Global Guidelines for Sustainable Packaging www.flexomag.com FALL 2010 Sustainable FLEXO 7