Case studies

Consumer goods companies focus on sustainable packaging  

Credit: Bert van Dijk/Getty images.

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The packaging of consumer items, including the materials and processes used to package products for sale to consumers in-store and online, contributes to Scope 3 emissions for thousands of brands. 

Packaging waste is a major issue for the consumer industries. Multiple different materials can be used to package a single item. Consumer demand and rising ecommerce preferences are placing new demands around producing packaging using eco-conscious and sustainable materials. Sustainable packaging includes recyclable, recycled, biodegradable, and compostable materials. 

Sustainable packaging as part of net zero strategy 

Consumer industries are including sustainable packaging into their net zero strategies: 

  • In 2023, 92% of Amcor’s purchased fibers were responsibly certified to an external standard, and EcoVadis assessed 76% of its critical and strategic suppliers. 
  • By 2030, P&G aims to reduce its supply chain emissions by 40%per unit of production and reduce virgin petroleum plastic in its packaging by 50%, from a 2020 baseline. 
  • By 2025, 100% of Mondelez’s packaging will be designed to be recyclable. By 2025, the company aims to achieve a 5%reduction in virgin plastic and a 25% reduction in virgin rigid plastic, against a 2020 baseline. 
  • Pepsi aims to reduce virgin material use and increase recycled materials such as recycled polyethylene terephthalate (rPET). In addition, it will use low-carbon alternatives and renewable materials. 

Sustainable packaging materials 

Companies are also innovating in sustainable packaging materials: 

  • Mushroom packaging binds agricultural feedstock with mycelium to produce an organically grown material that has very similar properties to polystyrene. The packaging is fully compostable at home and naturally reverts into soil nutrients after 45 days. 
  • Utopia Plastix has developed a plant-based alternative to petroleum-based plastics. Its process uses its resin for various types of plastic production, including straws, bags, spoons, film, and a variety of containers. 
  • Hipli’s packages are designed to be reused around 100 times. With the unit QR codes on each parcel, Hipli can track the number of uses, whether they take place between individuals, or whether the parcels return to Hipli. The lightweight parcels can fold very small which makes them create a much smaller environmental impact during their return journeys. 

Packaging giants’ recent innovations in sustainability

In its goal to use more plant-based materials, 9% of the plastic TetraPak purchased in 2022 was from plant-based sources. Tetra also tested a fiber-based barrier to substitute the thin aluminum foil layer in aseptic carton packages. 

Avery Dennison  
Avery Dennison continues to develop its AD Circular program, where companies use an online web application to schedule pickups of used materials, with Avery managing the transport, recycling, paperwork, and regulatory compliance. 

In August 2021, Berry built a plant in Leamington Spa, UK, which it says will deliver Europe’s first approved recycled material at scale for contact-sensitive applications. In its European flexible films division, it adopted a chain of custody methodology to substantiate recycled content claims. 

In 2023, Amcor invested in four start-ups focused on circular economy innovations. It also invested in what it says is one of Australia’s first advanced recycling facilities, expected to process 20,000 tonnes of end-of-life plastic annually. 

Crown won industry accolades for its innovation in can design. At the Asia CanTech Awards and Canmaker Cans of the Year Awards, the Theppadungporn Chaokoh coconut milk can was honored for its golf-ball design on the can surface, which reduces material usage by 13%. 

GlobalData, the leading provider of industry intelligence, provided the underlying data, research, and analysis used to produce this article. 

GlobalData’s Thematic Intelligence uses proprietary data, research, and analysis to provide a forward-looking perspective on the key themes that will shape the future of the world’s largest industries and the organisations within them.