The Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC) is an industry working group that is committed to creating and implementing an environmental vision for packaging. Their mission is to advocate and communicate a robust vision for making packaging more environmentally friendly. They also support innovative and functional packaging materials that promote economic and environmental health. SPC has been working on a new project and they are preparing to launch a voluntary labeling pilot program for packaging this fall that intends to increase recycling and make it easier to understand. The hope is to eliminate confusion that is caused by some labels. SPC will allow members to use this new labeling program on their products, and plan on opening the program to others. The overall goal of this program is for it to become a universal label.
Eco labeling has taken some heat recently because it can be confusing and misleading. Some companies that participate in greenwashing use eco labels to make their products appear to be eco-friendly. This has led to consumer confusion and frustration. Consumers want instruction and direction on what is actually recyclable. This pilot labeling program will help give consumers the right information on what to recycle, with the goal of keeping everyone on the same page.
The labels have three classifications: widely recycled, not recyclable, and limited recycling. A black diagonal line will classify the not recyclable label. Limited recycling will have the phrase check locally above the icon and it will identify the material. Plastic bags and films will be classified by store drop off or recycle if clean and dry.
Having green packaging allows you to help the environment, but is it worth it financially for your company? We have been hearing a lot more about being green and environmentally-friendly the past few years from numerous companies and industries. Is it just a bunch of talk, or do people really care about the environment? How significant is sustainable packaging to consumers?
- (Picture from The Pohly Company)
Scott Young and Perception Research Services studied packaging and the environment with extensive research over two years. What they discovered is that most important to shoppers making purchasing decisions is the overall package appearance and functional concerns. Once these needs are met, they will factor in the environmental considerations. This makes green packaging the deciding factor for shoppers trying to pick between two products with equal appearance and functionality. Similarly, shoppers do not want to buy an eco-friendly item that looks and feels “cheap”. Therefore, it is important companies to offer both eye-appealing and functional packaging, as well as packaging that is good for the environment.
One more thing that Young discovered was that only 11% of shoppers thought that they knew what “sustainable packaging” was, and only about half of those actually knew what it meant. It is important for companies to educate consumers about what being environmentally-friendly means and use terms that they will understand.
A.T Kearney also performed a study and came to the conclusion that environmentally-friendly companies performed much better than their competition over a three-month and six-month period and did not have “value erosion”. Even in our struggling economy, green companies are performing above-average in the financial markets.
The eco-friendly trend does not seem to be disappearing anytime soon. Environmentally-friendly packaging does play a vital role in purchasing decisions and is helping companies beat out their competition.