Sustainability In Packaging US 2023 – Key Takeaways

Sustainability In Packaging US 2023 – Key Takeaways

Insights from the 2023 US Sustainability in Packaging Conference



1. Don’t let the consumer be the scientist

As brands, we’re conditioned to put the consumers first. We design products to meet their needs, brand products to appeal to their aesthetics, and market in a way that will resonate. However, sustainability is one area we cannot let the customer dictate our decisions. They are not experts in sustainability and following their notion of “what is the most sustainable” will not result in optimal outcomes for the environment. When it comes to sustainability, it is our responsibility to educate the customer, not be led by popular opinion.

2. Let’s not trade one environmental disaster for another

Many companies are switching to paper packaging instead of plastic packaging to become more sustainable however paper also has its environmental issues. For example, cardboard production is water intensive, generates emissions and runs the risk of encouraging deforestation if not sourced sustainably. Marco Macoratti head of Sustainable Solutions for Mondi believes people should use “paper where possible, plastic when useful”, to avoid trading one environmental disaster for another.

3. Shift towards uber standardisation

Increased packaging standardisation will simplify packaging formats providing a clearer pathway for end-of-life material recovery. If traditional structural design becomes more harmonised, brands may need to rethink how they differentiate and present their values.

4. New packaging technologies enabling sustainability

Digital printing is on the rise and the benefits go beyond convenience. Companies like Inkjet Printing use a contactless printing method suited to print variable data on demand and better manage end-of-life.

5. Critical importance of LCA in achieving packaging sustainability goals

Sustainability methodologies and tools can often be complicated to understand, implement, or even conduct, as a result, make decisions can become a complex and conflicting task.

Our client, Estée Lauder uses our streamlined LCA packaging tool, PIQET, to LCA to tackle sustainability while maintaining their brand values.
This is used in two ways:

Incremental innovation – Incremental adaptation strategies that drive small-scale adjustments might not be conceivable to many but are a powerful way to move the needle. For eg., Estee Lauder’s new sample packets elevated the product sample experience while moving to a more sustainable material.

Radical innovation – Using LCA to make radical top-down decisions, which in turn, challenges suppliers to innovate with them.