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FLEXO Magazine : Sustainable Fall 2010
indicators and metrics, and guidance on how to use this framework and the measurement system. THE BUSINESS CASE Sustainability has risen dramatically up the agenda in recent years. Once the preserve of NGOs and pressure groups it is now a central part of business strategy and increasingly relevant to consumers. Companies increasingly understand that an effective approach to sustainability helps to manage risk, reduce costs, become more innovative and efficient, and grow customer loyalty. There is a risk, though, that action is not always sufficiently coordinated; that CPCs, as businesses, do not work as closely to- gether as is possible, and, as a result, the response is less strong and less efficient than it could be. Consumers, and regulators, see packaging as a key concern. They want an end to what they perceive as over packaging and they want consistency of information, including clarification on what packaging can and can’t be recycled. Businesses, however, whether they are manufacturers or retailers, judge the environmental sustain- ability of their products from differ- ent perspectives and use different approaches. For example, some companies focus on weight reduction, believing it provides a reasonable proxy for sustainability through lower raw material inputs, reduced transport, less waste and lower CO2 emissions. But this emphasis on weight has some unintended consequences, including greater wastage if the packaging becomes too fragile. Other companies use lifecycle analysis to help them mea- sure sustainability. This is a more comprehensive approach but it can be costly in both resources and time and there are not always commonly agreed measurement approaches. To support an effective industry response, there is a need for common metrics and definitions on how companies should measure the sustainability of their packaging—bring- ing together the work of existing programs which touch on similar areas and adding a global dimension and CEO lead- ership to the issue. The more unified approach of a packaging and sustain- ability measurement system will not only enable organizations to work together more effectively but also allow them to real- ize new opportunities and manage risks. The benefits include: Cost reduction. By harmonizing each company ’s ap- proach for measuring and asking for packaging information, organizations can work together more effectively—setting clear expectations of each other and reducing the time needed to respond to requests. Reduced impact. Analyzing packaging data will help identify sustainability “hot spots” that can then be addressed. It will also help identify opportunities to reduce costs. Improved consumer perception. Through measurement and understanding, organizations can identify opportunities to deliver consumer expectations. Improved decision making. A common and robust set of metrics provide us with a common, rounded, fact based foundation for us to understand priority sustainability issues, agree on appropriate industry actions—and understand the implications. Extended influencing. Demonstrating leadership by proactively managing the issues related to packaging can allow organizations to: demonstrate that by informing and empowering consumers, much more can be achieved than is possible through regulation; work with local authorities and government to support the development of an efficient recycling infrastructure and maximize the recovery of pack- aging materials; respond swiftly and accurately to requests for information on packaging optimization work; and dem- onstrate progress and build the case against the need for further regulation THE ROLE OF PACKAGING While the fundamental purpose of packaging is to deliver the product to the consumer in perfect condition, it also serves a variety of other purposes. Good packaging uses only as much of the right kind of material as necessary to deliver what is required. As packaging is reduced, the range of www.flexomag.com FALL 2010 Sustainable FLEXO 9