Has awareness of the environmental and social impacts of packaging ever been higher? Probably not, and we can be sure that this awareness is no longer restricted to the environmental NGOs, activists and tree-huggers. These days it’s the consumers who are demanding that Brand Owners, Retailers and Public Bodies use paper and packaging that is legally sourced, has no connection with deforestation and contains no unnecessary plastics. In essence consumers want packaging that is certified sustainable.
What exactly is “sustainable packaging”? There are various factors to consider when choosing your Paper and Packaging suppliers and to achieve the desired results a holistic approach must be taken. This means incorporating as many elements of The Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s Circular Economy thinking whilst respecting DEFRA’s Waste Hierarchy guidance of “Reduce, reuse, recycle”.
Firstly, Consider Responsible Sourcing
Using PEFC certified pulp and paper provides assurance that the wood fibre used in the production process originates in forests where Sustainable Forest Management (“SFM”) practices are in place – maintaining the optimum balance of harvesting and replanting for forest regeneration, conserving biodiversity and protecting the rights of forest workers. PEFC certified material also qualifies as “low risk” in relation to the UK Timber Regulations.
Secondly it’s important to select a PEFC paper supplier that has proven credentials in relation to its Scope 2 carbon emissions. This choice can dramatically influence the overall carbon footprint of your packaging so place high emphasis on this in your procurement policy.
Then finally consider the end of life solution for used Paper and Packaging. Paper is the most recycled raw material in the UK with the latest data from DEFRA showing recycling rates at 79.0%* which compares favourably to the UK’s total recycling rate of 45.5%**. Packaging that uses PEFC certified paper/pulp therefore not only protects forests at source but also provides an essential strong fibre source for the ever growing recycled board market that supplies boxes for the e-commerce sector and beyond. The PEFC Recycled logo is available to use for this very purpose.
How do PEFC certified pulp and paper products bring value to those purchasing them? PEFC certification helps companies: substantiate the environmental credentials of their brands (using on pack logos), develop responsible sourcing policies, increase supply chain transparency, improve consumer engagement and upgrade their 3rd party environmental ratings.
Almost all paper packaging applications can be certified to the PEFC standard, the list is almost endless: Paper Carrier Bags, E-Commerce Mailing Bags, Corrugated Boxes, Carton Boxes for Food & Drink, Bakery Bags, Fruit & Vegetable Packaging, Sugar & Flour Bags, Chilled Food Trays etc.
PEFC provides a range of brochures and guidance for the sector: