What is sustainability?
As defined by the World Commission on Environment and Development, a sustainable product "meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs".
To be considered sustainable, the materials must be same-cycled into a product of equal value, or up-cycled into a product of higher value; while the process would either have no impact on the environment or improve it.
The term sustainability is often associated with recycling or recycled material. Traditional recycling usually results in some form of degradation to the environment or the materials being recycled. In fact, most recycling is actually down-cycling, as materials are reused in less valuable applications in each cycle.
We believe that by successfully addressing these criteria, packaging can be transformed into a closed loop flow of packaging materials in a system that is economically robust and provides benefit throughout its life cycle - a sustainable packaging system.
- Is beneficial, safe & healthy for individuals and communities throughout its life cycle.
- Meets market criteria for performance and cost.
- Is sourced, manufactured, transported, and recycled using renewable energy.
- Optimizes the use of renewable or recycled source materials.
- Is manufactured using clean production technologies and best practices.
- Is made from materials healthy throughout the life cycle.
- Is physically designed to optimize materials and energy.
- Is effectively recovered and utilized in biological and/or industrial closed loop cycles.
Source: Sustainable Packaging Coalition
No ranking is implied in the order of criteria
Currently, meeting this strict definition would be virtually impossible for the majority of transportation, protective and display packaging systems where commingled materials and global manufacturing complicate the cycling of materials through collection and reuse.
For now most companies are setting attainable environmental packaging goals that are less bad in practice when compared to their existing methods.