Photo: ntr23, Flickr
From thinning plastic bottles to decomposable potato chip bags, sustainable packaging has hit the marketplace in full force. In fact, from 2005 to 2010 more than 1.5 billion pounds of packaging was diverted from landfills, says a new survey from the Grocery Manufacturers Association. And for the next decade, the goal is to cut another 2.5 billion pounds off that "waste line."
The survey, titled Reducing Our Footprint, was done by McKinsely and Georgetown Economic Services, and details the poll of 14 top companies in the food, beverage and consumer products industries. They don't reveal specific company names, but their findings show that the industry at large is on track to reduce packaging weight by 19 percent, or 2.5 billion pounds, by 2020. That's the energy-saving equivalent of removing 363,000 homes or 815,000 gas-guzzlers.
A switch from stand-by plastics to earth-friendly alternatives is not as smooth a transition as screwing in a swirly light bulb, but more than 180 initiatives were on the table by 2010 (more than 60 in 2009 alone), states the GMA report. Packaging reduction not only lightens our load on land and air pollution; companies have already seen the benefits of decreased transportation costs, says the report.
This includes a beverage company responsible for thinning plastic bottles, which eliminated 2.45 billion pounds of waste, and a canning company's redesign that led to the reduction of 700,000 pounds of PVC plastic, which accounted for 25-percent more space per truckload, 150 trucks and 14,000 gallons of fuel. Thinner plastic equals more travel space. From 2005 to 2010, one company alone reduced its landfill waste by 20.7 million pounds, while another was able to drop 2,000 trucks from its shipping fleet. Tough to argue with that bottom line.