Seventy-four percent of U.K. packaging group Incpen's members working to encourage consumers to act more sustainably, while 63% have policies on sustainable sourcing for their suppliers, study finds
January 12, 2011
– A new study of INCPEN members’ commitment to sustainability, conducted by specialist environmental consultants AEA Technology, shows that compared to an earlier 2006 study there have been major improvements in a number of areas and companies are tackling more issues.
Driving Sustainability: A survey of INCPEN members shows that companies recognise that sustainability is about more than environmental improvement. It’s about social and economic issues as well.
It is no longer enough for a company to rest on its laurels by claiming high recycling rates, or the use of low energy light bulbs. INCPEN members have adopted sophisticated environmental management systems to assess and continuously improve their performance, which they publish for public scrutiny.
This holistic approach and life cycle thinking helps avoid shifting environmental impact from one part of the supply chain, or one type of impact, to another and prevents unintended consequences.
Companies are continuing to make improvements in raw material use, energy use, recycling, use of recycled materials, water consumption, waste, transport efficiencies and greenhouse gas emissions.
On average each INCPEN member reduced waste by 7.7%, water consumption by 5.3% and CO2 emissions by 1.8% each year, since the 2006 report. In addition:
• 74% of members are working to encourage consumers to act more sustainably
• 63% of members have policies on sustainable sourcing for their suppliers
Case studies in the report show a number of the benefits of ongoing improvement:
• liquid by-products of manufacturing are being converted into a gas that can be used to replace fossil fuels
• the creation of a ‘best practice’ platform for sharing agricultural experience between competing food-sector companies enabled pilot projects to test innovations
• forming partnerships with local authorities to support and expand recycling
• updating a manufacturing process to remove one particular stage, resulting in both energy savings and waste avoidance.
As more and more companies improve their systems, this success will continue to be built on in coming years.
INCPEN is a research body formed in 1974 to examine the environmental and social impacts of packaging and the supply chain. Its members are an influential group of companies that operate throughout the supply chain and share a common interest in packaging, the environment and sustainable development.
All INCPEN member companies have committed to an INCPEN charter (link to vision) which calls for "....adopting cradle-to-cradle thinking in developing packaging and product supply chains that make a positive contribution to social, environmental and economic development. Our ambition is to help consumers to live more sustainable lifestyles. We:
• Commit to the vision and actions to achieve it.
• Commit to measuring environmental improvement.
• Monitor, share and evaluate progress regularly at stakeholder seminars.
• Promote sustainability initiatives to all supply chain companies.
• Encourage the whole supply chain to go beyond the Essential Requirements Regulations’ focus on waste and recycling, by also considering product wastage, energy and transport.
• Help consumers reduce their own environmental impact by continuing to support INCPEN initiatives.
• Encourage and support innovations that contribute to a sustainable packaging and product supply chain.”