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CPG Products Power More Than Your Every Day »

August 6, 2019

When you stock up on your favorite snacks, purchase your go-to shampoo or pick up a treat for your four-legged friend, the dollars you spend have a much broader reach than most imagine. In the most comprehensive economic study ever conducted of the CPG industry, we found that the industry supports 20.4 million jobs that generate $1.1 trillion in labor income and contribute $2 trillion to the nation’s GDP.

GMA partnered with PwC to conduct this study of the economic impact of the CPG industry, which includes the food, beverage, household and personal care products that Americans depend on each day. Our research shows that the CPG industry supports one in 10 American jobs and is the largest manufacturing employer in the United States.

The impact of the industry can be felt from coast-to-coast and in every congressional district. In fact, the industry supports an average of 45,000 jobs in every congressional district.

Along with this new research, GMA launched a new microsite to share the economic data of all 50 states, 435 congressional districts and Washington, D.C., along with stories of how CPG companies are making more than just a financial impact on their communities.

For more information about the study and to view the full report, visit

If California is About to Define the Future of Packaging Sustainability, Will It Get It Right? »

July 8, 2019

California is currently considering a pair of bills aimed at reducing waste and increasing recycling. The intent is commendable. But we can’t afford to assume intentions will yield results.

This legislation could be a watershed moment for packaging sustainability. While a national, uniform standard would be best for consumers, what California does now could have national implications. Delivering on that potential will require a smart, collective approach that seriously considers the broken recycling system. Unfortunately, that’s not what is happening now.

Single-use plastics that end up littering oceans and rivers are unquestionably a problem. Nearly nine out of ten (87%) of Californians say they are concerned about single-use packaging. The consumer packaged goods (CPG) industry is as well. We are invested in reducing waste and creating smarter packaging. We recognize it is our challenge and responsibility to translate the drive for sustainability into practical solutions that get people the products they need. One of the best ways to do that is through recyclable packaging, and the legislations’ recyclability target is the same as what 80% of the largest CPG companies have already set for themselves to achieve fully recyclable packaging.

But recyclable packaging only works if the recycling system does – and today, it doesn’t. It’s a patchwork of rules unique to the more than four hundred local programs across California. What’s worse, as the economics of recycling have become more challenging, counties and towns across the country have reduced their list of acceptable items, often no longer taking commonly recycled items like glass, or shuttered entirely. In California, 34% of residents reported similar changes to their local curbside program and 40% of the state’s beverage container drop-off centers have closed in the last five years.

Not acknowledging the broken recycling system will lead to this legislation’s failure. Provisions like identifying if packaging is recyclable on the label are quite literally impossible to comply with because what is allowed in one town is different the next town over.

The legislation calls for a 75% single-use plastic packaging recycling rate by 2030 – an admirable goal, particularly considering the national rate for plastic recycling is just nine percent. The CPG industry would like to see this goal achieved. The majority (70%) of Californians support it in theory. But despite this widespread approval, 83% agree that the goal can’t be met without a functioning recycling system.

We can only assume the legislators behind these bills want to make the greatest impact for the environment. To do that, we should double-down on what works – and recycling works. It is an innate behavior for the overwhelming majority that can have a massive impact if we fix the system itself. Ninety-three percent of Californians say they are likely to recycle while only 61% say they are likely to create a compost pile and just 53% said they’d trade their car for walking or public transportation. Recycling’s power is in its scale and if we’re going to be serious about sustainability, we can’t afford to limp along like we’re doing now.

California has a chance to lead the country in creating the archetype for packaging sustainability legislation. However, these bills are designed to fail upon implementation because they do not solve the underlying problem and, worse, will fail at creating the lasting change we need. Let’s take the time to get this legislation right, not just get it passed.

Further reading:

Article: California Can Lead on Packaging Sustainability… But Will It?

Press Release: Californians Concede Limitations of Proposed Recycling Legislation, Agree System is Broken

Report: Reduce, Reuse, Confuse: How Best Intentions Have Led to Confusion, Contamination and a Broken Recycling System in America

How Sustainable Are Your Summer Staples? »

July 3, 2019

As the warmer weather rolls in, our favorite summer essentials become part of our everyday routine once again. Sunscreen for the pool, chips for the neighborhood barbeque and cleaning supplies for sticky popsicle drips on the kitchen counter. Our tried and true essentials make summer easier to enjoy — and easier to ensure your environmental footprint this summer is nothing more than a footprint left behind in the sand.

The consumer packaged goods (CPG) industry has been investing heavily in more sustainable and recyclable packaging, and actively developing solutions that work for both consumers and the environment. Seventy-four percent of Americans consider themselves extremely or very concerned about the environment and 75% say they have changed their behavior in recent years to be more environmentally conscious.

Our world today is forward thinking and fast paced, and consumers expect products and experiences that keep up. The CPG industry is adapting quickly to these needs and delivering products that are both convenient and cognizant of the environment.

All of the 25 largest CPG companies have made commitments to increasing recyclable content and minimizing packaging or reusing material. Eighty percent have gone a step further by committing to producing completely recyclable, reusable or compostable packaging by 2030. CPG companies make up a large part of The Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s New Plastics Economy Global Commitment: Coca-Cola, Colgate-Palmolive, Henkel, Kellogg, McCormick, PepsiCo and Reckitt Benckiser, just to name a few, have all taken the pledge to help eradicate plastic pollution.

To meet these goals, CPG companies are rigorously optimizing their product packaging, utilizing recycled materials and reducing the amount of packaging when possible:

  • Kellogg reduced the weight of cereal box liners by 17%, eliminating 192,000 pounds of packaging material;

  • Clorox’s Glad brand reduced the plastic in its trash bags by 6.5%, the equivalent of 140 million fewer bags per year;

  • Ferrero redesigned its Nutella packaging, saving more than 26 tons of excess packaging material; and

  • PepsiCo now packs Tostitos in plant-based, compostable bags for food service accounts in the United States.

Companies like General Mills and P&G are utilizing recyclable materials in their packaging, including beach plastic for shampoo bottles and virgin wood fiber that does not contribute to deforestation, respectively. Coca-Cola is investing heavily in recycling technology as part of their “World Without Waste” vision. These global brands are driving change across all industries and meeting consumer wants and needs for the products they use every day.

But sustainability doesn’t just stop at CPG — consumers make a huge difference when it comes to actually recycling and reusing the products they purchase. The problem is, America’s recycling system is just plain confusing, making it increasingly difficult for consumers to navigate our country’s broken system.

CPG companies are stepping up to that challenge as well, helping us all better understand the array of local recycling rules and policies that lead to confusion and high contamination rates. Last summer, PepsiCo and The Recycling Partnership launched the largest-ever residential recycling challenge, aimed at educating and providing resources to 25 million U.S. families on their local recycling rules and how to recycle better and more often.

When it comes to sustainability, innovation is the name of the game and the CPG industry is working swiftly to meet their commitments to protecting the environment and combating climate change. Every company has a vested interest in sustainability and our industry is getting closer to its goals every year.

This summer, research your local recycling rules before breaking out a can of ice-cold beer or a bottle of aloe vera, and enjoy the season confidently, knowing the products in your beach bag are doing their part in helping us achieve a more sustainable world.

How Millennials Will Kill the American Recycling System »

May 30, 2019

By Sarah Soulier, manager of industry narrative at the Grocery Manufacturers Association

Browse the Internet for a few minutes and you’ll likely run across a headline blasting Millennials for “killing” a long-accepted practice. As a Millennial myself, my generation has been blamed for the demise of the housing market, nine-to-five jobs, chain restaurants and even pants — all for being born between 1981 to 1996.

But when it comes to recycling, Millennials should be experts. We were raised in classrooms with the “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” mantra taped to the walls and lessons from Ms. Frizzle on the Magic School Bus, teaching us the importance of keeping the earth clean. If there’s one thing we can’t be accused of killing, it’s recycling.


Unfortunately, just about every age group in the U.S., including Millennials, is confused about America’s recycling system. And who can blame us? Thanks to highly varied rules about what can and can’t be tossed in the recycling bin, it’s never been more complicated to recycle properly.

The trouble is, we don’t know what we don’t know. When asked about clarity on their local recycling rules, 64% of millennials said they are very clear on local recycling rules, while 50% of Generation Xers, 47% of Baby Boomers and 46% of the Silent Generation said the same, according to GMA’s new Reduce, Reuse, Confuse recycling report. However, when asked if largely unrecyclable items like plastic bags, Styrofoam, to-go coffee cups and plastic straws are recyclable, more than 65% of millennials said yes for each item. Gen Xers, Boomers and the Silent Generation were slightly better, with responses ranging from 32% to 61% who believed these items were recyclable.

This ‘aspirational’ recycling — the practice of recycling things you aren’t sure about but hoping it will be sorted correctly — has led to a big jump in recycling contamination rates, from 7% of all recycling ten years ago to 24% now. We want to recycle and we want to believe the things we use will be more than just trash. Nearly half (49%) of Millennials are aspirational recyclers, just ahead of Generation X (45%) and far ahead of Boomers (32%) and the Silent Generation (25%).

Aspirational recycling is proof that our intentions are good. Just a decade ago, 38% of Americans considered themselves extremely or very concerned about the environment. Today, the figure has jumped to 74%. For Millennials it’s even higher, at 82%.

We need to find a way to capitalize on the concern and good intentions in a way that is sustainable. For now, the best we can do is educate ourselves on local rules and be more knowledgeable recyclers. But that shouldn’t be enough for the generation of Ms. Frizzle. For as much as we’re accused of killing things, we’re also known for driving innovation. Without Millennials, where would ridesharing, TV streaming or avocado toast be today?

Recycling is not a generational issue. But as the most environmentally conscious generation, we must drive change to the broken system in a way that will give recycling a long-term future. We are projected to be the largest generation by the end of this year and we are the most interested in buying environmentally responsible products — 44% of Millennials frequently buy products for the environmental qualities, compared to just 26% overall.

Change has already come to the CPG industry. 100% of the 25-largest CPG companies have committed to more recyclable materials — 80% will be fully recyclable by 2030. But this level of action depends on a functioning recycling system. It’s up to all of us, Millennials or not, to ask our government leaders to work toward streamlined regulations that eliminate confusion.

If we don’t act, we will all be responsible for “killing” recycling. But we also have a chance to be responsible for fixing it. Let’s take that chance, for ourselves and generations to come.

Trucking Capacity is in a Jam »

May 13, 2019

By Geoff Freeman, president and CEO, Grocery Manufacturers Association

We live in an on-demand culture. We expect what we want, when we want it, at an affordable price. And we typically don’t think beyond the store or the mailbox about how it gets to us.

But what if your daily essentials didn’t arrive? What if you went to the store to find an empty shelf or went online and found your favorite sunscreen cost more than last time you bought it?

As Infrastructure Week kicks off, we are reminded of this looming transportation crisis that threatens the availability and affordability of the products we all depend on. Eighteen of the 25-largest CPG companies say rising transportation costs have already or may lead to higher prices. Impending truck shortages, driver restrictions and crumbling infrastructure are all contributing to this issue, and American shoppers may end up paying for it.

Demand is Outpacing Supply

Today, there’s only one truck available for every 12 loads that need to be transported. Demand for more trucks is exploding as ecommerce continues to grow, and auto manufacturers simply can’t keep up, with a backlog of more than 200,000 trucks.

But even if the nation’s trucking supply could keep up with demand, available drivers are still needed to operate them. With nearly 900,000 new drivers needed over the next 10 years and only 108,000 expected to be hired, demand is sharply outpacing supply. Low unemployment rates mean a tight labor market and intense competition across every industry.

Last year, companies offered a 10% pay raise on average, according to the National Transportation Institute, on top of hefty signing bonuses to attract new recruits. Trucking companies are doing their best to stay competitive, but the average age of the American truck driver is 49 and as a large portion of drivers begin to retire, the market will remain tight even if the broader economy changes.

Regulations and Government Inaction Further Constrain Capacity

Illogical regulations complicate matters even further, allowing CDL-licensed drivers under 21 to make cross-state journeys that are hundreds of miles long, but prohibiting them from driving just a few miles to make a delivery across state lines. We want safe drivers, but state boundaries aren’t the guardrails for safe driving.

Though legislation has floated around Congress for years and the Department of Transportation has launched a pilot program, as it stands today, trained truck drivers in the military are not able to take their skills into the commercial marketplace once leaving the service if they are under 21.

Of course, the elephant in the room is infrastructure. America’s well-documented infrastructure crisis leaves trucks stuck in traffic longer, missing narrow delivery windows. The American Transportation Research Institute found that congestion on our roadways costs 1.2 billion hours in lost productivity annually — the equivalent of 425,533 truck drivers sitting idle for an entire year.

But America’s infrastructure problem won’t just mean a few extra bumps in the road or some inconvenient slow-downs on the highway. In 2016, the American Society of Civil Engineers projected America would lose nearly $4 trillion in GDP 2.5 million jobs by 2025 if significant investments were not made in our nation’s crumbling infrastructure. Our infrastructure supports millions of jobs and CPG products, empowering every family across the country. It is imperative that Congress acts soon to begin building infrastructure for tomorrow, before consumers pay the price.

Washington cannot sit idly by any longer. Americans rely on the daily essentials the CPG industry creates at the affordable prices they have come to expect. Ignoring America’s transportation problems today could mean a crisis tomorrow.

To learn more about the transportation crisis, read GMA CEO Geoff Freeman’s new op-ed in The Hill.

GMA Spring Update: Our Commitment to Driving CPG »

May 9, 2019

By Geoff Freeman, president and CEO, Grocery Manufacturers Association

This year, GMA set out a bold new agenda to empower the CPG industry to grow and thrive. We challenged ourselves to be focused, deliberate and impactful as we promote the incredible value of the CPG industry and the millions of lives these products power every day.

As part of our ongoing commitment to advancing our four strategic pillars, GMA debuted a new website homepage last week, highlighting the industry story and the organization’s fresh, new direction. This temporary online presence is only the beginning, with additional work underway to make our vision for a reimagined GMA a reality. Here’s an update on our efforts.


Enhancing Packaging Sustainability

Last month, GMA released our latest report, Reduce, Reuse, Confuse: How Best Intentions Have Led to Confusion, Contamination and a Broken Recycling System in America. The report focuses on the challenges we face combating a broken recycling system, highlighting the great work the industry does in this space and the steps stakeholders must take to ensure America’s recycling system is effective. You can find coverage of our report in Fast Company, Forbes and Huffington Post.

Championing Smart Regulation

From poorly designed rules that point to burdensome processes and not the needs of American consumers, to guidelines that create an unwieldy, expensive and unsustainable environment for success, patchwork regulations have negative impacts on both consumers and CPG companies. Later this month, GMA will shed light on some of the issues consumers and the industry face with a monthly series of case studies highlighting problem regulations.

Creating Frictionless Supply Chains

Infrastructure Week officially kicks off on Monday, May 13 and the CPG industry has a major stake in the future of our nation’s transportation capacity. In an op-ed appearing in The Hill, I explained the importance of finding a permanent solution, noting the urgency in fixing America’s deteriorating infrastructure before consumers are left with rising prices.

Next week, GMA will join more than 500 organizations from varying industries to urge legislators to act and build America’s infrastructure for tomorrow.

Building Trust in CPG

There are currently over 55,000 items on SmartLabel and we are on track to deliver more than 60,000 by year’s end. As the program expands, GMA remains committed to developing the roadmap for the next generation of this important industry program.

As GMA continues to reshape its brand and elevate itself as a leader in the industry, our commitment will be to continually highlight the vital role CPG companies play in every American home. These four pillars will be at the forefront of everything GMA sets out to accomplish, both this year and beyond.

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