While there has been significant progress made during the past year toward a greater overall understanding of sustainability, corporate social responsibility and sustainable packaging, Jason Pearson, the president and CEO of Greenblue recently made a keen observation.
“It disturbs me,” said Jason, “that
I don’t hear the words sustainable packaging and quality mentioned in
the same sentence.”
Are we, in our haste to make progress toward
sustainability in any form, losing sight of the fact that we still have a
responsibility to produce the highest quality packaging that protects a
product and delivers it safely to consumers?
Without quality, we cannot create profit for
shareholders nor improve the lives of those with whom our businesses and
products come in contact.
I will second Jason’s concern about the back
seat quality seems to have taken in the greater context of
sustainability-and add that excellence, innovation, service, safety
and trust in packaging will be with us long after sustainability, carbon
footprinting or the next generation of responsibility has become business
as usual, rather than an unusual way to do business.
We must pursue quality and sustainability on equal
terms by committing equal or greater resources. And for those efforts, we
must demand ever-greater social, environmental and economic returns.
We’ve made tremendous progress toward embedding
the tenets of sustainability into our businesses. We now need to work on
reinforcing the idea among consumers that packaging addsvalueto their quality of life,
We’re all on a steep learning curve as we search
for our own business and technology sustainability sweet spot-the
point where financial interests coincide with social and environmental
interests (whichPackaging Strategieshas coined as “eco”nomics).
As an industry, we should not and cannot be energized
by cliché one-liners or catch phrases. But at the same time,
let’s embrace the change and capitalize on the advantages these
opportunities present-so long as we do it accurately and with science
to back it up.
What progress have we made toward being able to
recognize greenwashing-and have we made progress toward being
confident enough in our own knowledge and understanding to challenge what
we believe to be false or misleading marketing statements when we read
In the wake of so many claims, the packaging community
must have access to more information that is transparent in both its root
cause and its downstream impact-information that affords clear and
total understanding that enables responsible individuals and teams to
develop and lead sustainability and sustainable packaging initiatives,
projects and programs.
We must continue to engage each other in new and
meaningful exchanges of information, ideas and best practices.
Sustainability's 'Eco'nomics Depends on Quality and Transparency
David Luttenberger is Global Packaging Director at market intelligence agency Mintel.
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