Sustainability news : What we’re doing about plastic packaging waste

09.25.19 // Heritage Paper



The plastic dump problem

Today, most consumers and businesses that are using plastic packaging are aware of the plastic waste problem and are seeking solutions. Consumers are moving away from single use plastics. Businesses  have developed sustainability programs addressing their use of plastic and non-recyclable packaging.

According to a report by the United Nations less than 10% of the nine billion tons of plastic the world has ever produced has been recycled. Plastic packaging accounts for 50% of that waste. And single use plastics like drinking bottles, caps, food wrappers, grocery bags and straws and stirrers lead the list of items found in our environment. We’re all too familiar with the vast garbage dump floating in our oceans and the consequential discovery of microplastics in our food chain.

Local and national governments around the world are adopting regulations to curb single use plastics. Bans on single use grocery bags and Styrofoam were first the items targeted, and now plastic straws are being banned in many cities.  Programs to improve waste management, encourage and incentivize recycling are all having a positive impact on reducing the environmental impact of discarded plastic.

Corporations in the news

Much work remains at the source of the packaging and some of the leading multinational brands have been adopting aggressive strategies to meet sustainability goals to reduce plastic and/ or to increase recyclability of their packaging.

Pepsico has recently announced a goal to reduce virgin plastic in their beverage containers by 35% by 2025. It aims to use 25% recycled content in all its plastic packaging by 2025, and 50% recycled content in its plastic bottles in the European Union by 2030

One of Coca Cola’s sustainability goals is to recover/refill as much plastic and cans as they produce . In 2018 that number was 56% , still  short of a 2020 goal of 75%. On their priority issues matrix of stakeholder interest and economic impact to the company, the issue of packaging is #3 behind water and category perception. They continue to revise their programs and raise their targets to do more.

In one of the most ambitious programs yet, Nestle the Swiss food giant, committed to 100% recyclable or reusable packaging by 2025. And this month they inaugurated their Institute of Packaging Sciences, the first of its kind in the food industry. Part of the Nestle Research center in Switzerland, this new institute will accelerate the development of reusable packaging solutions and pioneer new environmentally friendly packaging materials. Driven by a vision of a world in which no packaging ends up in landfill or as litter, Nestle is already making progress towards their 2025 goals with unique packaging such as 100% recyclable paper packaging for the Nesquik All Natural powder.

We’re in this together 

With consumers, businesses and governments all focusing on this issue and fully applying their creative, technical and social resources, we can look forward to some truly innovative sustainability solutions.  We’ll keep you posted.

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