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PwC maps out pathways towards plastic packaging sustainability

In order to improve their plastic packaging operations, PwC consulting team Strategy& asserts that food and beverage companies should consider lightweighting and adopting biobased materials, where appropriate; develop consistent design-for-recycling standards; and form strategic partnerships with recycling providers to gain access to high-quality recyclate. Bottles, ready-meal trays, and films for fresh produce are among the many plastic packaging applications that are still widely utilized by brands, which is attributed to their cost-effectiveness and functional properties. Yet consumers and regulators increasingly question brands’ reliance on plastic packaging. Ipsos recently released a survey in which 82% of respondents leaned towards product packaging that contains as little plastic as possible, and three-quarters believed that single-use plastics should be banned altogether. In order to help food and beverage companies cut down on the amount of plastic packaging used in their operations, Strategy& recommends a combination of two pathways. Lightweighting is said to have contributed towards material cost savings over the past thirty years, specifically lowering the financial burden of materials, production, and transport. According to Strategy&, removing only a few grams from the average plastic bottle or container makes a big difference to the amount of virgin resin input required from fossil feedstocks and lowers emissions. On the other hand, lighter packaging can contribute to leakage and potentially have an adverse effect on recycling efforts due to a decrease in its end-of-life value. Multi-material packaging structures have also been utilized in response to ‘slowing efficiency gains in single-material formats’, but these are difficult to identify in waste sorting facilities and difficult to recycle using existing infrastructure. As such, they can cause bottlenecks in the pursuit of circularity. Food and beverage brands must therefore balance emissions savings and costs without impacting the post-use recovery of a packaging material. Strategy’s second recommendation is a transition into alternative packaging materials, e.g. biobased plastics. Reducing emissions by an estimated 20-30%, the process of sourcing plastic materials from biomass and other renewable sources is expected to divert the plastics industry away from fossil feedstocks. Biobased solutions are thought to match fossil-based plastics in terms of chemical and physical properties, which would mean that the existing value chain will require few adjustments to embrace the new materials. Even so, they are currently between 20% and 50% more expensive than virgin plastics, which is slowing their progress in the packaging industry. Consumer perception is also slowing their adoption. Even when the plastic is derived from plants, the image of plastic waste in the environment is enough to dissuade consumers – and, while they drive down production-related emissions, these plastics do not fix the problem of end-of-life plastic waste. Therefore, Strategy& asserts that material replacements should proceed on a case-by-case basis. They should take life cycle emissions into account and remain ‘limited to targeted applications where the sustainability benefits tangibly outweigh any drawbacks.’ Mechanically recycled PET may result in lower carbon emissions than recycled glass and aluminium in certain beverage applications, for example. https://packagingeurope.com/news/pwc-maps-out-pathways-towards-plastic-packaging-sustainability/11077.article

Do you agree?

6 more agrees trigger social media ads

  • Grace Njeri

    4 d

    This is such a great effective control to prevent plastic pollution in line with the principles of sustainable waste management.

    1
    • Ann Nyambura

      3 w

      Standardizing packaging design to ensure compatibility with recycling processes can significantly improve the efficiency and effectiveness of recycling operations.

      4
      • johnte ndeto

        2 w

        @ann_nyambura_542 Its proactive approach in promoting sustainability on plastic packaging.

        3
      • George Kariuki

        4 w

        Great to see PwC pushing for progress on sustainable plastic packaging! Consumers want less plastic - brands need to listen & innovate.

        5
        • johnte ndeto

          2 w

          @george_kariuki This initiative marks a significant step towards addressing the challenges of plastic waste.

          3
        • We Don't Have Time

          4 w

          Dear johnte ndeto Your climate love has received over 50 agrees! We have reached out to PwC by email and requested a response. I will keep you updated on any progress! To reach more people and increase the chance of a response, click the Share button above to share the review on your social accounts. For every new member that joins We Don't Have Time from your network, we will plant a tree and attribute it to you! /Adam, We Don't Have Time

          3
          • walter lungayi

            4 w

            PwC's initiative to map pathways for plastic packaging sustainability is crucial in addressing environmental concerns. Collaborative efforts like this are essential for a more sustainable future.

            4
            • johnte ndeto

              2 w

              @walter_lungayi By forming strategic partnerships with recycling providers, food and beverage companies can further enhance their sustainability.

              3
            • walter lungayi

              4 w

              PwC's initiative to map pathways for plastic packaging sustainability is crucial in addressing environmental concerns. Collaborative efforts like this are essential for a more sustainable future.

              3
              • johnte ndeto

                2 w

                @walter_lungayi This reduces transportation costs and emissions throughout the supply chain.

                3
              • Princess

                4 w

                PwC is doing a commendable job by actively working towards making plastic packaging more sustainable. Keep up the good work!

                5
                • johnte ndeto

                  2 w

                  @princess_nel_268 By incorporating materials derived from renewable sources into packaging solutions, companies can reduce their reliance on fossil fuels.

                  3
                • dickson mutai

                  4 w

                  Balancing costs, emissions, and end-of-life value is key for food and beverage brands

                  5
                • Rotich Kim

                  4 w

                  Mapping is good we are hopefully that this will reduce the use of plastic

                  6
                  • johnte ndeto

                    2 w

                    @rotich_kim it's still a milestone towards eradicating the use of plastics

                    3
                  • Joseph Githinji

                    4 w

                    Great to see efforts to reduce plastic packaging which will go a long way in dealing with plastic pollution. Packaging on biodegradable materials is a great way to fasten this initiative.

                    11
                    • johnte ndeto

                      2 w

                      @joseph_githinji The recommendation to lightweight packaging materials acknowledges the importance of optimizing resources.

                      3
                    • Munene Mugambi

                      4 w

                      Emphasis should be on biodegradable packaging. To find a way to make packaging environmental friendly bu use of bio based materials. Very vital to support this plan

                      11
                      • johnte ndeto

                        2 w

                        @munene_mugambi Closing the loop on plastic packaging lifecycle can reduce the demand for virgin plastic which is still a positive step towards controlling the use of plastics.

                        3
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