Shifting to Sustainability A movement is upon us. It’s not just about what’s inside products when it comes to ingredients, it’s equally as important as what’s behind the product – and that has to do with packaging and the mission behind a brand. Consumers are fired up about the preservation of our planet, now more than ever, but what does this mean for retailers and brands? The industry must keep up with the changing times. Consumers want to feel that they are making a difference with every purchase, casting a vote for a sustainable change. Recent media headlines have spotlighted global news and influencers speaking out on the climate crisis, prompting consumers to question their daily habits by examining anything and everything starting with the plastic water bottles they purchase. Research states that 59% of all grocery shoppers are responsible packaging shoppers and out of those, 70% say they have changed what they buy because of the type or amount of packaging*. What constitutes responsible packaging? It’s anything that has a goal of lowering carbon output through reducing, reusing, recycling, composting or using renewable resources. Why has responsible packaging sparked consumer interest? Over 8.3 billion metric tons of plastic waste is produced each year and 79% of it ends up landfills or, even worse, the ecosystem.* Plastics along with other waste in landfills contribute to large amounts of methane greenhouse gas emissions, which is 86-times more potent than carbon dioxide according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. This large contributor to the climate crisis is not only an environmental concern but it is a health concern to anyone exposed to the harmful gases. With plastics, aluminum, and cardboard filling up our landfills, most products can take anywhere for 5 to 450 years to decompose*. To combat the several issues of waste, many have turned toward a reduce or zero waste solution. Companies committed to either reducing the amount of packaging their products carry or have begun incorporating reusable packaging into their production model. Brands like World Centric, a 100% certified compostable containers company, and PathWater, a 100% aluminum reusable water bottle company, both have been leaders in this charge for change. How can you take it a step further? Whether a retailer, brand, or consumer- education and creating awareness about the environmental impact of packaging can benefit you along with better the environment. As a retailer:
  • Enhance assortment by carrying new and on trend brands across multiple high impact categories that reflect the better-for-environment packaging
  • Provide educational information and resources for customers that call out responsible packaging
  • Use signage and shelf talkers to call out brands that reflect a sustainable mission
  • Create store programs to incentivize shoppers to recycle or bring their own bags to save on plastic bags and encourage consumers to think consciously about their plastic use
As a brand:
  • Highlight mission and responsible packaging callouts on your label
  • Consider converting current packaging to an eco-friendly version
  • Collaborate with retailers to help them build educational and promotional programs to spread awareness
As a consumer:
  • Learn more about the plastic in food packaging and the harmful effects it has on your health and the environment
  • Evaluate current plastic usage and try to reduce it
  • Bring-your-own storage containers or bags when grocery shopping -don’t forget to bag your produce with a reusable mesh bag rather than plastic
  • Spread awareness to friends and family on how to make an impact
  *NOAA; “Production, use, and fate of all plastics ever made”-Science Advances, 2017; “Renewable and Recyclable-two ends of the responsible packaging equation” Food Dive-10/15/2018