The incredible creativity currently driving innovation in sustainable packaging will undoubtedly lead to many new advancements in the coming years. Tom Szaky, author of “Revolution in a Bottle,” recently blogged about some of the trends he foresees in 2014.
Szaky sees plant-based plastic production increasing, pointing toward a recent partnership between brands like Coca-Cola, Nestle and Nike and the World Wildlife Fund establishing the Bioplastic Feedstock Alliance, which is aimed at setting standards for the development of plant-based plastics derived from feedstocks like corn and sugarcane.
Another huge area that needs to be addressed is that of single-serve coffee pods. The Wall Street Journal estimates that nearly 9 billion of the pods are sold annually, an enormous waste stream as, at the moment, the pods are cannot be easily recycled.
Just more than a year ago, MIT researchers and engineers unveiled LiquiGlide, which could revolutionize the elimination of some forms of food waste. LiquiGlide is a food-safe, slippery coating that can be applied to the inside of any liquid-containing bottle that allows consumers to get every single drop of food from the bottle, leaving absolutely no residue. LiquiGlide has been approved by the FDA and Szaky sees its use growing dramatically.
Finally, he sees two already established trends gaining increased momentum. The need for companies to adopt the “less is more” credo when it comes to packaging will continue to be a focus for CPGs as will the general sense of corporate responsibility. More than 80 percent of consumers are aware of the sustainability of the products they purchase. Szaky points to the How2Recycle Label program started by the Sustainable Packaging Coalition, operated by nonprofit GreenBlue, as an example of how corporations can address this consumer interest in sustainability.
The labels detail the components of the product’s packaging, and also if each of the materials can be recycled. The Kellogg Company, Minute Maid and Ziploc are among the many companies currently partnering in the program and the list is sure to expand in 2014. As consumers demand more sustainable products, CPGs would be wise to follow the example of the How2Recycle program and find ways to demonstrate to their customers the level of their commitment to sustainability.