When it comes to an overarching strategy for making packaging more sustainable, many companies are still confused. A guide written by the Institute for Ecological Economy Research (IÖW) and the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research Heidelberg (ifeu) aims to provide suggestions and assistance.
Plastic packaging is bad, glass and paper better per se? Many consumers act according to such simplified rules of thumb, but these often lead off on the wrong track. And it’s not just customers who have misconceptions about sustainable packaging. Companies, too, are often unsure about how to make the switch to sustainable packaging, because customers’ and business partners’ requirements are diverse.
A guide from the Institute for Ecological Economy Research (IÖW) and the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research Heidelberg (ifeu) aims to provide support. In the “Innoredux” project, which was funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, the researchers examined packaging for food and drugstore products, among others, and discussed the results with the companies involved in the project. In the guide, the researchers present six approaches to reducing packaging: from unpackaged to reusable to alternative materials.
A marginal issue in corporate strategies?
Although packaging can be considered the flagship of the company and the product, it plays only a secondary role in most corporate strategies, according to the IÖW and ifeu. “Switching to sustainable packaging should be a long-term strategic corporate goal,” says sustainability researcher Eva Wiesemann (IÖW). “It is helpful to develop a packaging strategy – for a period of three to five years, for example. It should be integrated into the company’s overall strategy and take into account all types of packaging.”