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Local Manufacturing of Sustainable Packaging: A Win-win for Business and the Environment

Consequently, it’s logical that businesses are actively seeking methods to appeal to the expanding demographic of sustainability-conscious consumers. A key trend in this sustainability drive is the focus on not just the end-products but also on enhancing sustainable practices across the entire supply chain. This approach helps in minimizing the overall ecological footprint of products, chiefly by cutting down on shipping and transportation needs and the resulting emissions, whether international or domestic. Such initiatives not only reduce environmental impact but also resonate with environmentally aware customers, aligning companies more closely with current trends, industry norms, and regulatory standards.

Indeed, an increasing number of big companies have committed to enhancing the sustainability and transparency of their supply chains, encompassing aspects like packaging. These commitments underscore the rising importance of supply chain management. Enhancing supply chains is vital for augmenting overall sustainability and combating climate change. This is particularly relevant as Scope 3 emissions, which include packaging, transportation, product disposal, and other supply chain elements, account for about 90% of the greenhouse gas emissions for large companies.

A highly effective strategy for companies to enhance their supply chain sustainability is not only to adopt eco-friendlier packaging, like compostable alternatives, but also to ensure that this packaging is produced near its point of use. Opting for locally-manufactured sustainable packaging offers a dual benefit for businesses and the environment.

Locally-sourced packaging is environmentally and economically beneficial© Tipa-corpProducing packaging in close proximity to its intended business users reduces the need for extensive fuel consumption during transportation. With shorter travel distances, the likelihood of employing more sustainable modes of transportation increases. For instance, electric vehicles, which have a significantly lower environmental impact compared to airplanes or ships, are ideal for covering these shorter distances.

Additionally, locally-sourced packaging contributes to the creation of jobs within the community and bolsters the local economy. These aspects are increasingly important to a large segment of consumers, with over 70% of Americans expressing a preference to shop locally as a means of supporting their own communities.

Alternative to conventional plastics: compostable packaging© Tipa-corpToday, there is an expanding range of options for packaging made from sustainable materials like compostable plastic, sourced locally. This type of packaging can accommodate products of various sizes and shapes, catering to a wide array of items including clothing, food, and fresh produce.

And its popularity is on the rise. Industry specialists report that the global market for compostable food service packaging stands at around $20 billion and is projected to grow to approximately $30 billion in the next ten years. Surveys indicate that a similar rapid expansion is anticipated for compostable packaging in various other sectors.

Compostable materials are becoming an ideal choice for businesses aiming to engage in sustainable practices. Despite the long-standing popularity of recyclables, the unfortunate reality is that a majority of plastics intended for recycling never achieve that end. Globally, only 9% of plastic is effectively recycled, and much of what is labeled as ‘recyclable’ ends up in landfills. There, conventional plastics persist for decades or centuries without fully disintegrating, eventually fragmenting into microplastics, which are considered by many experts to be a more severe issue than larger plastic pieces. To genuinely uphold their sustainability pledges, companies should opt for compostables. These not only decompose into agricultural compost, enhancing soil fertility and crop yields, but also aid in sequestering atmospheric carbon.

Sustainable packaging made locally distinguishes companiesCombining these two ideas — creating sustainable, preferably compostable packaging in local facilities — can enable companies to attract a broad range of consumers eager to make purchasing decisions that are better for their health and less harmful to the environment. By using locally-sourced compostable packaging, businesses enhance their sustainability, benefitting both the planet and their customers, who increasingly seek sustainable options.

This initiates a positive loop — the manufacture and sale of sustainable products in eco-friendly packaging leads to reduced pollution and waste. It also generates more local employment opportunities and boosts sales for businesses operating within the community due to growing demand. This surge in demand further encourages the production of sustainable goods, perpetuating the cycle.

As the issue of waste escalates dramatically each year, initiating this beneficial cycle becomes increasingly crucial. The necessary technology exists, consumer demand is evident, and the market is ready. Businesses adopting compostable packaging will discover that this approach yields dividends not only for them but also for the planet.

AuthorOshrat Adler Eckhaus

Publication date: 07/02/2024

Author: Yago Destro de Oliveira

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This project has received funding from the Bio Based Industries Joint Undertaking under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 837761.