What Is Sustainable Packaging Environmental Sciences Essay

September 6, 2017 Environmental Sciences

In this subdivision I am looking at current positions and definitions of the industry on sustainable packaging. An article from the Sustainable Packaging Alliance claims that:

“ There is no clear apprehension internationally, about what constitutes ‘ sustainable packaging ‘ . Policy enterprises have tended to concentrate on resource and waste decrease and recycling, for illustration the current European Packaging Directive. ” ( Sustainable Packaging Alliance, 2002 ) This is backed up by the Federal Trade Commission who justifies this with the fact that sustainable packaging is a reasonably new factor for the environmental considerations for packaging. ( Environmental Marketing Claims, 2011 ) There are a few attacks here that are deserving sing to specify sustainable packaging.

Sustainable packaging is defined by The World Commission on Environment and Development as: “ Developments that meet the demands of the present without compromising the ability of future coevalss to run into their ain demands ” ( World Commission on Environment and Development, 1987 ) What they are intending by this is sustainable packaging can merely be sustainable if at the last phase of the design rhythm when the packaging has fulfilled its primary map the user can recycle the packaging for a secondary map which this in bend will diminish the environmental and ecological footmark.

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Jedlicka ( 2009 ) believes that you merely ca n’t burrow vision yourself down to the concluding merchandise you have to hold a expression at the whole image of supply ironss ; from simple design maps, to selling and all the manner through to the decision of its life rhythm so back to its metempsychosis.

The European Commission negotiations about how “ sustainable packaging will necessitate more analysis and certification to look at the existent bundle design, the stuffs that are used and the whole image of the packaging ‘s life rhythm. ” ( Environmental Marketing Claims, 2011 ) Bolyston ( 2009 ) has a different position and he belives that sustainable packaging dependent on the sum of sustainable energy used in each phase of the packaging ‘s life rhythm. The term ‘life rhythm ‘ means the merchandise goes through a series of phases that mold and develop the merchandise. The life rhythm would see all of the factors from the natural stuffs to how its manufactured, taking onto how its distributed which eventually guides it to the usage and disposal of it. Throughout all of these phases there would be assorted conveyance methods used to travel the merchandise onto its following phase. To sum up all of these stairss and phases is called the life rhythm of the merchandise.

It is indispensable to look at the life rhythm of packaging in order to determine countries and chances in which the packaging ‘s sustainability can be improved. Figure 8 is a diagram of the packaging ‘s life rhythm from The Sustainable Packaging Coalition ; this diagram aims to supply guidelines and rules for the development of sustainable packaging. The Sustainable Packaging Coalition claim that they have set themselves the mission to recommend and pass on a positive robust environmental option for sustainable packaging through functional packaging stuffs and systems that endorse economic and environmental supply ironss.

The Sustainable Packaging Coalition characterizes sustainable packaging as follows:

Is sourced, manufactured, transported, and recycled utilizing renewable energy

Is physically designed to optimise stuffs and energy

Meets market standards for public presentation and cost

Maximizes the usage of renewable or recycled beginning stuffs

Is good, safe and healthy for persons and communities throughout its life rhythm

Is efficaciously recovered and utilized in biological and or industrial closed cringle rhythms

Is made from stuffs healthy in all likely terminal of life scenarios

Are manufactured utilizing clean production engineerings and best patterns.

( Sustainable Packaging Coalition, 2010 )

Figure 8. Diagram of boxing merchandise life rhythms

The diagram above shows the procedure and stairss involved for packaging. It starts at the natural stuffs and goes to the terminal user. Each measure in this rhythm requires a signifier of energy but harmonizing to Boylston there are ways to cut this and cut down the sums used. Sustainability relies on tonss of different factors involved at each of these phases ; these factors need to be identified in order to turn to them with the right steps. For illustration if we look at stewardship, this is critical for assisting to safeguard the environment and protecting the employees that are pull outing the stuffs. The less distance the stuffs can go in the life rhythm the better, because this will intend it has taken less gasoline on transit. If we look at another facet of utilizing renewable energy at each phase this will add to do the packaging more sustainable. Reusability and recycling systems or compostability of packaging can to boot heighten sustainability. ( Boylston, 2009 )

Figure 9. Diagram of packaging ‘s upstream and downstream impacts.

If we take a expression at the packaging merchandise life rhythm in a additive position we can to boot separate between upstream impacts from the extraction of the natural stuffs until the packaging is passed across to the consumer which is the downstream impacts, these are considered to be the impacts that occur through utilizing the packaging and the stairss taking to the terminal of its life. An illustration of this is the sums of energy required for the recycling procedure at the terminal of the packaging ‘s life. The different recycling methods used are composting, littering, and other possibilities are waste-to-energy workss which means energy can be produced once more from the waste merchandise.

A life rhythm appraisal is normally used as a tool to analyze the life rhythm of packaging. The purpose of a life rhythm appraisal is to compare the full scope of societal and environmental amendss, which can be identified to merchandises or services, so least troublesome one, can be selected. There are tonss of different types of life rhythm appraisals know with different Scopess. The range varies from cradle to gate to cradle to cradle attacks and furthermore there are types such as the LCA procedure that addresses the environmental inputs and end products compared to other attacks that address the economic inputs and end products.

Now that I have described the packaging life rhythm, we furthermore need to advert that companies such as 3M or Wal-Mart are presently developing their ain definition or usher lines that drive sustainable packaging within their supply concatenation. Wal-Mart claims, its primary mark is to be boxing impersonal by 2025, this means that all packaging recovered or recycled at their shops will be equal to the sum of packaging used by the merchandises in the shelves. Wal-Mart has introduced a set of steering rules called the “ Seven R ‘s ” to assist them accomplish their mark. These Principles are: Remove, Reduce, Reuse, Renew ( able ) , Recycle ( able ) , Revenue and Read. Relative to this Wal-Mart have introduced a packaging scorecard, this is a measurement tool that “ allows providers to measure themselves comparative to other providers, based on specific prosodies. The prosodies in the scorecard evolved from a list of favourable properties announced earlier this twelvemonth, known as the “ 7 R ‘s of Packaging ” . ( Wal-Mart, Scorecardmodeling.com, 2009 )

3M utilizations Boxing standards in coaction with the Environmental Protection Agency, this is much the same as Wal-Mart. 3M have set minimising packaging waste as there top purpose and they are have now realised that the most waste is coming from fresh natural stuffs, this is non merely bad for the environment but is non really economical. 3M began by trying to extinguish as much waste as possible through pollution bar, and so the staying waste was reused, recycled, converted to energy, or incinerated to make new energy.

Regardless of the packaging life rhythm appraisal, there are related analytical methodological analysiss such as ecological footmark, which is calculated by comparing the biological resources available in a given part to resource demands of a population. The web of users of the Global Footprint Network has developed criterions. The criterions are available on footprintnetwork.org in order to assist to turn to computation niceties, including transitions, step of land/sea packages, turn toing atomic power, changing informations beginnings, import/export informations and biodiversity among others. ( Global Footprint Network, 2012 ) Another well-known footmark is the C footmark, which represents a subset of the ecological footmark and of the more comprehensive life rhythm appraisal.

Laws and Regulations that consequence packaging?

Regulations are at that place to give companies a mark or a way to head towards. There is directing 94/62/EC set by European Commission Environment that is “ aimed to harmonise packaging waste, on the one manus seeking to halt or forestall the harm of packaging to the environment and on the other manus they do n’t desire to curtail or falsify the competition within the community.

It besides contains commissariats on the bar of packaging waste, on the re-use of packaging and on the recovery and recycling of packaging waste. ” ( European Parliament and Council Directive, 2010 ) These ordinances or directives have focused on waste decrease and resources but they have failed to look at the societal impacts of packaging.

Boylston points out that we have a bigger job to get the better of before we more towards more sustainable packaging and that is with today ‘s companies turning in size there is an disposition towards specialising, this merely breaks up the different sections and isolates them. So the different section terminal up really incoherent with each other so they lose the connectivity between all the sectors. An illustration of this would be the packaging interior decorator working following to the in writing interior decorator, this is so they can pass on and work as a squad.


Sustainable packaging relies upon the right stuff picks. I will be carry oning an probe to look at the measures of packaging waste along with the assortment of stuffs that end up as waste. In add-on to this I will spread out and make further research on paper and plastics.

Looking at the solid waste study from 2010 from the European Environmental Agency it is clear to me that out of 250 million dozenss of waste 30 % is from containers and packagings and this is before recycling. The 2nd pie chart indicates that paper and plastics biggest supplies to waste.

Figure 10

Figure 11

The recycling and composting of packaging prevented 85.1 million dozenss of stuff off from being disposed of 2010, up from 15 million dozenss in 1980. This prevented the release of about 186 million metric dozenss of C dioxide equivalent into the air this is the equivalent to taking 36 million autos off the route for a whole twelvemonth! ( European Environmental Agency, 2013 )


The ingestion of paper on a planetary graduated table is more than 350 million dozenss per twelvemonth, that is a monolithic 1 million dozenss per twenty-four hours and if it takes approximately 17 trees to do one ton of paper. So its non unpredictable that the paper industry are accountable for approximately 40 % of commercial harvest home of wood, and now seeking to terrorise the last few rain forests which contain and provide a home ground for the endangered species. Jedlicka provinces, “ The paper industry is the 4th largest nursery gas subscriber among makers and a immense consumer of energy. Furthermore the paper production is associated with toxic bleaching processs. ” ( Jedlicka, 2009 )

The benefits far outrun the bad points of paper. Paper is a really various stuff ; this is why it is used for packaging. The added benefits for utilizing paper as packaging is its lightweight and easy printed on and yet it can make all this and still be lasting and are easy recycled. There are more options for what paper can be made from it does n’t hold to be wood it can be made of hemp, kenaf straw, exchange grass and it can be made from a assortment or pulped fibres from workss.

As bloylston describes about the monolithic measures of paper that out at that place in the universe, all of which require a high degree of post-consumer waste ( PWC ) paper stock picks should imply the biggest precedence. Paper can be recycled up to seven times. ( Bolyston, 2009 )

One metric ton of recycled paper will salvage 17 trees, seven thousand gallons of H2O, three three-dimensional meters of landfill infinite, two barrels of oil and four thousand one hundred kW of electricity. The recycled paper uses 60 per centum less energy to bring forth so ordinary paper ; the energy saved would be plenty to run the mean place for six months. ( Statistics from Recycle bank.com, 2013 )

In order for there to be more paper packaging, the interior decorators have to back up this. The Environmental Protection Agency has made some recommendations which will assist to do packaging more sustainable, these recommendations are to utilize less material, extinguishing toxic components and doing it more readily reclaimable ( Environmental Protection Agency, 2013 )


Fictile packaging plays a immense function in today society, you can see this when walking about supermarkets and the egos are full of fictile containers. The word plastic is the common name given to the man-made organic polymers. As defined plastics are normally made from high polymer mass ‘ they can incorporate other stuffs to do it cheaper or to better its public presentation.

There are two chief types of plastic, thermosetting and thermoplastics. Thermosetting plastics can merely be heated up and shaped one time ; because once they go cold they stay solid. Unlike Thermoplastics, which soften and melt when around plenty heat, these can be shaped multiple times when heat is applied.

Jedlika says that plastics have many benefits such as it is lightweight, lasting, provides a gas and wet barrier and can sometimes retain its recycling value. ( Jedlika, 2009 ) The ground plastics are so popular is because it ‘s various and easy to fabricate with it is besides is unaffected by H2O. A down side to plastic is the additives used can do the plastic toxic and stuffs flow is for downcycling alternatively of true recycling.

The recycling rate of plastic has stabilized at around 25 % , but this is n’t an equal sum compared to the sum that is freshly produced. One ton of recycled plastic will salvage about five 1000s seven hundred and 70 four Kilowatt-hours of energy, six hundred and eighty five gallons of oil and about 30 lbs of air pollutants. ( Statistics from Recycling Bank, 2013 )

There is a new alternate to petrol-based plastics, which is more environmentally friendly plastic called bioplastics. These plastics are biodegradable and are created from renewable beginnings such as murphies or Beta vulgariss and maize. Boylston argues, “ however, bioplastics besides need the installations for aggregation and must non deduce from needed nutrient beginnings ” ( Boylston, 2009 )

There is a immense measure of stuffs that could be used for packaging. There is so much information about new packaging stuffs and the different engineerings available that there are dedicated web sites and forums full of up to day of the month information and ordinances.

To wrap up this subdivision I have come to the decision that sustainable packaging is non merely about the stuffs its made from but you have to look at the bigger image merely as Jedlika states “ If a interior decorator merely picks a random stuff out of his or her list of “ charming green stuffs ” and does n’t really cognize why the stuff is environmentally friendly, or even how it is applied right, so the replaced stuff can do impacts far worse. ” ( Jedlika, 2009 )

Case surveies and Primary research

I have selected to make my instance surveies on these companies because they show how different sized sectors either contribute or counteract sustainable packaging. The purpose of this subdivision is non to compare to find a 100 % sustainable packaging but to look how their concern delivers profitable value, the environmental betterments and client satisfaction.

First, Waitrose supermarkets are a nutrient retail merchant in England ; they have been portion of The John Lewis Partnership since 1937, the first Waitrose supermarket opened in 1955. Waitrose is one of England ‘s taking supermarket retail merchants using over 37,000 people. Waitrose has a sum of 280 subdivisions throughout England, Scotland and Wales. Locations range from high streets to the border of towns ; the shops vary in size excessively. The company is dedicated to offering quality, value and client service. In footings of packaging Waitrose has aimed to cut down nutrient packaging by 50 per centum by 2016/17, based on like for like use since 2005. ( John Lewis partnership.co.uk, 2012 )

Second, Innocent is a drinks company based in England and was founded in 1999. The companies chief concern is from doing fruit smoothies, a choice of fruit juices and vegetable pots, all of these merchandises are all sold in a broad scope of supermarkets and teashops nationally. Sing the company started at a music festival, they have grown well over the old ages and are now spread outing into the European market. They have set their marks high when seeking to be sustainable ; they have achieved this by inculcating sustainability into the packaging from the beginning. The company besides likes to move ethically in all countries of the company. ( Innocent drinks, 2012 )


Within the statement of this thesis I have tried to bring forth an evenhanded discourse on the deductions of sustainable packaging with both positive and negative positions.

The research has indicated that there is adequate grounds for sustainable packaging to be used in companies furthermore it will besides profit the environment and society.

The research inquiry I set out to reply was is sustainable boxing feasible given the current economic and political clime.


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