The packaging of a food and beverage company’s products is how the brand is seen to the world, so it’s essential that it’s aesthetically pleasing, so that people notice it and want to buy it. It also needs to be functional, whist meeting all relevant safety standards. But, this is no longer enough. It is vital that companies do all they can to ensure that any paper elements used in their packaging is sustainable and ethically sourced.
Using Recycled Materials
It is not so long ago that paper and packaging that’s recycled had to be brown coloured or rustic looking, without a smooth enough surface to do any high quality printing upon. This kind of material also may not have met with the required safety standards, either. This is not, however, the case today. With huge technological leaps in the production of paper, companies can have paper packaging with a high content of recycled material, without having to scrimp on either the look of their product or having to worry about safety standards. This means the company can be green and sustainable, while still having sleek looking packing for their food or beverage products.
Regular production of card and paper materials in North America are only offering to produce materials with 10 percent recycled waste. This means that they’re not really being as environmentally friendly as they could be. Paper mills located in China, however, are using new technologies in order to make high quality packaging products that are formed of around 35 percent post consumer waste, which is a big improvement. These packaging products are not only more eco-friendly, they look great and function as they should, as well as being hugely sustainable. These new technologies allow food and beverage companies to get products that have the same cost as those using high amounts of virgin fibres, and also the same high quality they want from their packaging.
Buying from Ethical Sources
although using recycled materials is great, and a step in the right direction, companies should be doing more than just this. In order to show they are committed to improving their sustainability, they should be making sure they can trace back the origins of their supplier’s paper and other raw materials for packaging. Ideally, all paper products that the company uses should come from sustainable forests. It’s important that each company takes responsibility for tracing back their raw materials, and ensuring that they come from an ethical source.
Every paper supplier must be able to confirm whether or not the products they sell come from sustainable forests and areas in which one is legally allowed to fell wood. Sustainable timber should come from plantations, where an equal amount of – or more – trees are planted than the amount that are cut down. Wood from paper suppliers certainly should not come from rainforests or any protected source. This information should come from audits carried out by an independent third party, to ensure that it’s unbiased. A food and beverage company’s supplier should preferably have certification from institutions such as the Program for the Endorsement of Forest Certification – or PEFC – or The Indonesian Ecolabelling Institute – or LEI. If they don’t have this kind of certification, the supplier should at least be able to prove that they comply entirely with any laws in the country of origin of the raw materials.
It is imperative that food and beverage companies think about their packaging in this way. Not simply because it helps the environment, but also because it may increase their profits, as consumers become increasingly aware of good environmental practice and the importance of a company’s sustainability.
- License: Royalty Free or iStock source: http://media2.apnonline.com.au/img/media/images/2011/07/11/A_240408NZHDPFOOD05.gallery-image_t460
- License: Creative Commons image source
- License: Creative Commons image source
Sandra works in the food and drinks industry and uses food packaging products from Kite Packaging.