More than 30 companies are testing out a packaging sustainability measurement system that one group hopes becomes a worldwide standard. The system was developed through the Consumer Goods Forum’s Global Packaging Project (GPP), and includes a list of 52 indicators (and how to measure them) like weight, recycling rates, virgin content and shelf life. The indicators are divided into three main sections:

Environmental (material waste, recycling/composting/reuse rates, recycled or renewable content)
Economic (total cost of packaging, packaged product wastage)
Social (packaged product shelf life, product safety, responsible workplace practices).

The GPP has also released a document (PDF) listing every indicator along with each one’s definition, metric, what to measure and what not to measure.

The basics of the system and common packaging principles are explained in the GPP’s first report, “A Global Language for Packaging and Sustainability,” which was designed to deliver a common framework and measurement system that trading partners can use to help them make better, more informed decisions about packaging and sustainability. The report was developed with input from more than 80 manufacturers, retailers, trade associations and packaging industry stakeholders.

Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Walmart, SC Johnson, General Mills, Target and Colgate-Palmolive have agreed to use it to answer questions about the sustainability of different packaging choices. The results of the pilot projects will be compiled and released at the end of this year.

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