Recent research indicates that most companies have, or are developing, some type of sustainable packaging policy.
Need a case in point? Check out this press release from Hormel Foods. Following its reduction of 5.2 million pounds of product packaging in 2008, Hormel Foods just announced several new packaging projects that will reduce its environmental footprint (while simultaneously reducing packaging and transportation costs?) even more.
Despite the interest and heightened awareness, however, sustainable packaging remains poorly understood. Packaging, itself, has a highly complex supply chain. Who, then, is responsible for measuring packaging sustainability? What attributes and impacts should be measured, and how? Which indicators and metrics are commonly used?
There are plenty of questions.
Fortunately, the Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC) is busy developing answers. The SPC recently released a comprehensive guide, called the “Sustainable Packaging Indicators and Metrics Framework,” designed to help companies measure the sustainability of their packaging.
The guide is organized into eight categories:
- material use
- energy use
- water use
- material health
- clean production and transport
- cost and performance
- community impact, and
- worker impact.
Each category is then defined through a variety of metrics.
At first, the guide was available only to SPC members. But, now it’s available publicly, and so will undoubtedly serve as a valuable resource for organizations who want to better understand sustainable packaging. After all, once you better understand sustainable packaging, you can make informed business decisions based on its economic, environmental and social impacts.