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Sustainable packaging begins begins with sustainable printing
A world of opportunity
Sustainable packaging represents an important opportunity for the print and paper industry. That’s because consumer packaged goods companies are increasingly seeking to make not only their products more sustainable – but also the packaging they use.
It’s no secret that consumers want sustainable packaging. In fact, while sustainable products made up 16.6 percent of the market for consumer packaged goods (CPG) as of 2018, they accounted for half of new growth in the marketplace over the previous five-year period.
During approximately that same timeframe, the Harvard Business Review reports that categories with the largest share of sustainability-marketed products included toilet and facial tissue, milk, yogurt, coffee, salty snacks, and bottled juices (more than 18%). Meanwhile laundry care, floor cleaner, and chocolate candy had less than a 5% share. Globally, the shift is even more dramatic as the green packaging market is expected to reach $413.8 billion by 2027, growing at a compounded annual rate of 6% from 2020 to 20271.
This trend is being driven by a shift away from single-use plastic packaging to paper or compostable materials as consumers focus on the impact of their buying decisions – and rely more heavily on online purchases.
What is sustainable packaging?
Sustainable, or green, packaging employs materials and manufacturing techniques designed to diminish energy use and reduce the harmful impacts of packaging on the environment – including landfill waste. Simply put, green packaging is defined as product design and use resulting in increased sustainability. What’s at stake? The World Bank has estimated that our planet produced 3.5 million tons of solid waste per day in 2010 – and that amount is projected to double by 2025. That’s why many CPG companies – including Mars, P&G and Unilever, as shown here – have common 2025 sustainability goals, with waste reduction being a top priority. Beyond advances in packaging design and materials, packaging printers can play an important role in helping CPG companies meet their waste reduction sustainability goals. They can do so by reducing landfill waste from their production processes.
What CPG companies are saying
To better understand this exciting opportunity for packaging printers, tesa surveyed CPG decision-makers ranging from brand managers to packaging designers and sustainability officers – and conducted one-on-one follow-up interviews. When it comes to the selection of packaging printers by CPG companies – and setting sustainability targets – we found that multiple decision makers are involved. And, while the procurement or resource manager roles are key – as they are ultimately the final decision makers – meeting corporate sustainability targets is a shared responsibility at many CPG companies.
More importantly, CPG decision-makers are open to packaging solutions that can help them meet their 2025 sustainability targets. Four out of five told us that staying ahead of the curve for sustainable packaging will help them remain competitive in the years ahead as consumers – and large retailers – increasingly demand sustainable products.This provides innovative packaging printers with a clear opportunity to drive business growth through helping CPG companies produce more sustainable packaging – and produce packaging more sustainably. In our survey, most respondents (88%) indicated using external suppliers for product packaging printing. The process of selecting packaging printers varied among respondents, however, not surprisingly, quality, price and previous relationships were seen as important factors on deciding which printer to use. More than half of respondents said their procurement, or
resource management roles are the final decision makers in the selection of packaging printers, although packaging design and marketing, product and brand management, and sustainability officers, play influential roles.
In our survey, we found that various roles are involved in setting sustainability targets for product packaging. Topping the list includes procurement, or resources management, and packaging design, but not far behind are sustainability and marketing, product and brand management.
Adding downstream value
Sustainability is important to CPG packaging decision-makers. This includes a focus on recyclability and reducing waste – as well as waste reduction during packaging printing. Further, CPG decision-makers are open to looking at packaging solutions to advance their sustainability efforts. Over twothirds of respondents, for example, said they are receptive to collaborating with supply-chain partners on sustainability scoring topics.
The vast majority (85%) said innovative solutions that can help packaging printers reduce waste matter to their sustainability efforts. An overwhelming number added that packaging printers can play an important role in partnering with CPG companies to help meet waste reduction sustainability goals. Plate-mounting tapes play a critical role in the package printing process. However, the traditional approach to printing flexible packaging – employing single-use tape – can result in tons of waste headed to the landfill every year – for a single packaging printer.
For example, an independent audit shows that by switching from single-use tape to a reusable plate-mounting technology – a packaging printer could potentially save more than 120 tons of solid waste for an eight-color wide-web process.3 For printers, this can also mean significant cost and efficiency savings on jobs using a common repeat.
The bottom line
Working with CPG companies to meet the growing market for sustainably packaged goods is a way for packaging printers – and those who support them – to add value and differentiate themselves in an increasingly competitive marketplace.