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Spotlight on CPG Environmental Successes: Waste

August 8, 2016

By: Meghan Stasz, Senior Director, Sustainability

Waste is a byproduct of just about every system- from the food or consumer products’ supply chain to manufacturing processes to individual households.

The consumer packaged goods (CPG) industry is always striving to be as efficient as possible to minimize waste in the system through packaging and manufacturing innovations and finding new value in what was once considered waste.

Case studies on food waste show that even seemingly small tweaks to manufacturing practices can yield huge reductions because the sector operates at such a significant scale. Similarly, when companies find ways to further optimize packaging, they often see massive reductions in materials.

As the voice of the CPG industry, GMA is regularly asked about packaging – recycling, reduction, what goes into it – and more. Packaging is critical to delivering products to consumers and preventing spoilage, heat and light exposure, or simply breaking or spilling. However, the question of how best to manage packaging at the end of its natural life and what materials are best for the environment often remains.

In response to this inevitable question, innovations are always being explored and developed by CPG companies and their suppliers. This year’s Environmental Success Stories in the Consumer Packaged Goods Industry report showcases examples of packaging breakthroughs from companies like Coca-Cola through the introduction of its PlantBottle. The PlantBottle replaces a fossil-based resin with a material from plants. Since 2009, more than 40 billion of these packages have entered markets, resulting in more than 845,000 barrels of oil saved. This is just one example of the kind of innovation and holistic approach to managing waste and materials we are seeing today.

Other successful approaches include cross-industry collaboration to address packaging challenges, such as how to recover the new materials in the supply chain – flexible, lightweight plastics for example. One partnership involves Dow (which makes material resin), Sealed Air (which turns that resin into packaging), and Nestle Purina (which uses that packaging for products). The companies are working together to find new ways to recover these lightweight materials that use fewer inputs. This innovative partnership will be the subject of a session at the GMA-FMI Sustainability Summit this week.

CPG companies are also taking great strides to reduce food waste and some of those initiatives are highlighted in the Success Stories report. In fact, efforts like these have been instrumental in the manufacturing sector recycling almost 94 percent of its food waste.

Reducing waste through improved efficiencies, collaboration, new materials, and recovering more materials benefits the entire supply chain. The CPG industry recognizes the importance of continued innovation and is leading the way.

 

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