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FLEXO Magazine : Sustainable Fall 2010
packaging industry a language and simple metrics to enable more informed dialogue between trading partners about the relationship between packaging and sustainability. It will enable better decision making, both within compa- nies and across the value chain. In turn, this will result in cost reductions, reduced environmental impact and improved consumer perception The framework and measurement system presented in this report first explains the role of packaging which is to: • Protect the product. • Promote the product. • Provide information, on product, usage, health and safety, disposal, etc. • Enable the convenient transportation and usage of the product. • Allow unitization of the product through the supply chain • Support efficient handling of the product, again, through- out the supply chain. Next, the framework considers the principles of sustain- ability—specifically the environmental, economic and social aspects. It also explains the importance of taking a lifecycle approach, covering the consecutive and interlinked stages of a product system, from raw material acquisition or genera- tion from natural resources to final disposal. This can also be referred to as a cradle-to-grave process. The final part of the framework is the intersection between the role of packaging and the principles of sustainability. It addresses how packaging can positively contribute to the sustainability of a product by being: • Designed holistically with the product in order to optimize overall environmental performance. • Made from responsibly sourced materials. • Able to meet market criteria for performance and cost. • Manufactured using clean production technologies. • Efficiently recoverable after use. • Sourced, manufactured, transported and recycled using renewable energy. Underpinning the framework is a set of indicators and met- rics that ensure that the detailed dialogue between trading partners is based on common terms, measures and values. For each indicator there is a clear definition, some examples, usage guidance and links to existing industry protocols where available. The framework and Version 1 of the measurement system are now complete. The next stage, already underway, is a series of pilot projects testing the practicality and ease of use of the framework and measurement system in real business environments. Each pilot takes as its starting point a business question, relating to packaging and sustainability that the trading partners want to address. It might, for example, be to com- pare different packaging formats for the same product or to consider the impact of changes in secondary and tertiary packaging to support logistics changes. The results of these pilots will be shared with the industry at the end of 2010 and will inevitably result in a refinement—a Version 2—of the measurement system. However, the comple- tion of the pilots will not herald the end of the project. For the project to deliver the benefits that have been identi- fied, the framework and the measurement system need to become part of the way consumer product companies (CPCs) do business. This means full adoption within the companies that have participated in the project, the wider Consumer Goods Forum and across the consumer packaged goods industry in general. So, rather than being a conclusion, this document is more a call to action, a call to: • Ensure your company ’s full commitment to the pilot program. • Start the process of internalizing the work. • Engage with your trading partners to promote the frame- work and the measurement system. THE VISION FOR THE PROJECT This project delivers to the packaging industry a common language to enable more meaningful and informed dialogue between trading partners and within industry groups about the relationship between packaging and sustainability. The Consumer Goods Forum believes that this will, in turn, ensure better decision making, both within companies and collectively. The common language proposed herein includes common definitions regarding packaging sustainability, principles, 8 Sustainable FLEXO FALL 2010 www.flexomag.com THE PRINCIPLES OF SUSTAINABILITY In 1987, the Brundtland Commission developed the most commonly applied definition of Sustainable Devel- opment: “Development that meets the needs of the pres- ent without compromising the ability of future genera- tions to meet their own need. This involves addressing economic, social and environmental factors and their interdependence in an organization’s decision-making and activities.” Within this context, the term sustainable does not have a specific definition but is used in its usual (diction- ary definition) sense, for instance: “to maintain or keep going continuously.” However there is a strict ISO re- quirement (14021) that claims of achieving sustainability shall not be made for self-declared environmental claims. Sustainability in the corporate sector encom- passes strategies and practices that aim to meet the needs of stakeholders today while seeking to protect, support and enhance the human and natural resources that will be needed in the future. Genuine environmental improvements require a Life- cycle Thinking approach to packaging/product systems that covers the “consecutive and interlinked stages of a product system, from raw material acquisition or gen- eration from natural resources to final disposal.” T his can also be referred to as a cradle-to-grave process. The United Nations Environmental Program has proposed that “the purpose of lifecycle thinking is to prevent piecemeal approaches and avoid problem shifting from one lifecycle stage to another, from one geographic area to another, and from one environmen- tal medium to another.” Lifecycle Assessment applies a rigorous quantitative process to Lifecycle Thinking and is the predominant tool used to substantiate the environmental impacts for goods and services. It involves careful compilation and evaluation of the inputs, outputs and the potential impacts of a product system throughout its lifecycle.