InStore Magazine Article: Circular Packaging Strategy

InStore Magazine Article: Circular Packaging Strategy

Circular Packaging Article

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Remember that plastic can be an infinite material if the packaging is designed to be circular.

How Circular is your Packaging Strategy?

The year 2020 is not just the beginning of a new year or a new decade but it’s going to be remembered as the year when humanity collectively took notice of the harm we are doing to our planet and started to commit to change. The momentum established in 2019 from global movements spurred by Greta Thurnberg and local decisions made by Kenya’s NEMA acting director­general Mamo B Mamo on Dec 5th, 2019 to with the threat of banning PET bottles have immensely contributed to sustainability campaigns in order to embrace a holistic approach based on principles of a circular economy. As of today, the Circular Economy and Sustainable Development Goals have reached both the agendas of corporate boardrooms & the hearts of people from all ages and walks of life.

Circular Packaging Strategy

Circular packaging is not just about how recyclable is your primary or secondary packaging is strategized. Circular packaging is not a shift in packaging materials & design, but rather a holistic design approach around the following interactions with packaging.

Materials Science – is the material from which your packaging is made coming from a recovered packaging material or a sustainable & renewable source?

Packaging Design – is the packaging designed to be manufactured, filled/ packed, distributed, retailed and change consumption behavior that makes it easy to reuse, dispose of, collect, recycle and make new packaging for the same application again? Remember that plastic (which can be made from oil & gas, or from plants & algae) can be an infinite material if the packaging is designed to be circular.

B2B Distribution – how is the distribution of the packaging & it’s contents between the packaging manufacturer to the filler to retail shops & supermarkets changed to enable secondary packaging to become circular, and also how can the return logistics from retail points support the collection of the primary packaging back up the same stream that it came from? Reusable secondary packaging that becomes part of a digital supply chain is the most likely solution to solve this problem. Talk to us at Silafrica if you want to learn more about how secondary packaging can become circular & save you a lot of money in the long run.

Retailing Alternatives – Majority of consumer packaged goods (CPGs) globally follow the same model – put the content in a functional & attractive primary/secondary package that stands out on the retail shelves to catch the attention of the consumer’s wallet, and after consumption, this packaging has done an important role and discarded to go into landfills, incineration plants, pollute the environment and a little bit gets recycled into low volume useful things like bricks & more waste like knick-knacks & trinkets.

Consider alternatives to retailing such as allowing consumers to refill their primary packaging at the retail store, or exchange the empty pack for a full pack otherwise pay a higher price, or ensure that your packaging is made from a circular source. It’s already happening for milk, water and cooking oil. Obviously the primary packaging design needs to enable these ideas.

Return to Separate Stream Collection – It’s ironic that before the Chinese manufacturing boom started, waste used to be binned in separate streams, which then went to local in-country labor-intensive sorting & recycling facilities where the packaging material is actually recycled into usable & valuable material. Then the developed world moved into a Chinese manufactured goods consumption frenzy that required millions of shipping containers of stuff to be imported into North America & Europe, and send millions of empty shipping containers back to China.

Same to Same Recycling – In Thailand a popular phrase is “same same but different” – that is exactly what I am referring to here. In a circular world, the same PP yogurt cup or PET water bottle needs to become another incarnate, from the same material that was recovered from a circular system.


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