Guest Author: Anthony Testa, Packaging Design Consultant
PIJAC Canada Member
A tipping point is happening in the packaging industry, and consumers are the epicenter. Consumers are increasingly embracing social issues and causes, along with products and brands that align with their values. They will be looking to your brand to change its behavior to the issues that are affecting all of us now or will change to the brand that is making that shift. Sustainability in packaging has become a key metric, changing buying behavior to reduce negative environmental impact.
Covid 19 has brought an awareness, a need to be vigilant
with avoidable human negligent behaviors.
Good advice and preparation for our future, need to be embraced. Consumers not only see climate change as an immediate threat – but want and demand sustainable packaging as a significant move in the right direction to mitigate it. The problem is viewed as here and now! Consumers, who select brands based on how well they align with their values when it comes to sustainability, are even willing to pay more for brands that get it right, but with traceability. They are reading packaging labels looking for the ingredients, responsible sourcing, organics, production methods and environmentally friendly packaging.
Major brands, shifting to compostable packaging.
The consumer shift is happening now, and brands that want to stay relevant need to shift to the sustainable packaging model. Brands that claim all-natural treats, organic, and responsible sourcing need to close that brand loop. With 8 million cats and 7 million dogs in Canada in 2020 that is a huge market to capture or lose. We are already seeing major brands shifting. Maxwell House Zero Waste and PC Loblaws have made the shift to 100% Compostable packaging for single coffee pods. Diverting over 100 million coffee pods from landfills. These products are prominently and proudly displayed on shelves across all grocery stores and supported by ongoing television campaigns.
They have aligned with their consumers’ values and offered a better than the competitor, BPI certified packaging form factor. These companies have decided to lead and differentiate their brands from the noise. Bio compostable, net zero carbon packaging form factors, is the formula! Brands that believe change is in the distant future are mistaken – they will fade, lose market share and have to play catch up. The technology is available, the future is now! Certification from an independent third party like BPI (Biodegradable Products Institute) is the gold standard – internationally recognized and has a rigorous process in place to certify specific packaging that meet its stringent criteria. Look for the BPI logo on the packaging.
Many of these uncertified ‘biodegradables’ claimed plastics degrade into its their smallest plastic component, a micro plastic. Which is environmentally harmful. Climate change, landfill leaching problems, and plastics polluting our oceans are affecting us now and the buying power of consumers will change the pet market landscape. Remember those 7 million dogs and 8 million cats have owners that are looking to shift their buying habits? Those all-natural, organic, wellness and health-conscious treats, are still frequently packaged in stand-up laminated pouches – which are multi-layered materials that are not recyclable or compostable. This is a process that has been used for many years to achieve the appropriate shelf life, unfortunately most will be around hundreds of years to come, in our landfills. Compostable packaging is available and flexible to meet the shelf-life requirements for the pet food industry. Brands need to look at embracing it and be environmentally responsible. Consumers shop for “Good” and will support brands that offer the same values!
A bottom line for manufacturers to move to compostable packaging, is the Canadian Stewardship Program which will be coming online in Canada. Manufacturers will be responsible to pay stewardship fees to clean up the environment based on the tonnages of packaging that they produce. Be ready to change or be ready to pay. The primary focus of The Canadian Stewardship Services Alliance (CSSA) is to provide services and support to various provincial recycling programs and to help businesses comply with their regulatory recycling obligations to register with a program, report their supplied materials and pay the associated fees. Below are the provincial packaging and paper recycling programs supported by CSSA and links to their websites:
Recycle BC — https://recyclebc.ca/
Multi-Material Stewardship Western — https://www.mmsk.ca/
Multi-Material Stewardship Manitoba — https://stewardshipmanitoba.org/
Stewardship Ontario — https://stewardshipontario.ca/
Recyc-Québec – https://www.recyc-quebec.gouv.qc.ca/
Packaging Design Consultant