How Much Money are You Losing by Sticking with Non-Recyclable Packaging?
As the amount of consumer packaging in the US and Canada grows, are companies being good eco-stewards to ensure it doesn’t end up in landfills, in the rivers, lakes and oceans, and other natural areas?
A new report by The National Resource Defense Council is giving a failing grade to how businesses are handling the production and management of the waste packaging they create.
According to the study: it “examined the current packaging practices of three sectors: quick service restaurants (QSRs, or “fast food”), beverages, and consumer goods/ grocery and concluded that “most companies have not sufficiently prioritized packaging source reduction, recyclability, compostability, recycled content, and recycling policies.”
The report revealed some disturbing stats about packaging management such as the overall recycling rate is only a third of what’s produced and that only 14% of plastic packaging is recycled. They estimate that about $11.4 billion is wasted annually. Although Canada has developed its recycling programs, the US has not adopted them. This is believed to be why a good deal of materials end up in landfills.
The Four Pillars of Plastic Reduction
The key in material conservation and sustainability is for US communities to adopt roadside paper and plastics recycling, and to mandate the use of fully recyclable materials. Major companies such as Starbucks and Walmart have done well in this regard, yet a lot of their packaging still ends up on streets and in ditches. Conservation will require public education and more awareness of the negative consequences of pollution.
The report’s authors conclude that brands/manufacturers must do 5 things:
- measure and track the management of plastic packaging and be accountable for it
- replace rigid polystyrene, take out coffee cup lids with recyclable alternatives, and as well, phase out polystyrene foam cups.
- move recycling from back of house to front of house – in other words top of mind for consumers and active in recycling.
- recycle black plastic containers using a technological fix and ensure there is a market demand for the collected materials.
- brands that put new materials out in the market must fund actions to make them recyclable.
The report shows paper and cardboard have the best recycling rates at about 76% recovery rate while plastics is only 13.8%.
There’s plenty more brands/designers/manufacturers can do to increase eco-friendly packaging solutions. By using paper and paperboard, we can cut costs and improve recyclability. It’s a good business decision and fits well with the evironment. We should try to move toward using only recyclable materials. The government could play a key role in sustainable packaging too, by offering tax incentives.
Is your retail promotion lacking a little lustre? Time to jazz it up a bit and give your customers a memorable shopping experience. And don’t forget the power of creative displays and shelf impact. Retail research studies have show dramatic improvements in brand recall and sales using POP campaigns.