Major Players Drive Towards Sustainable Packaging Goal

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Well, it’s the week of the big football game, and according to Forbes magazine, the NFL expects to tackle over FORTY TONS of refuse generated at the event in Minneapolis. The league is teaming up with partners including PepsiCo and Aramark with the goal of putting on a “zero-waste” championship weekend, and they plan to do so by ensuring that at least 90 percent of the waste generated will be either compostable or recyclable. 

That kind of goal takes a ton of cooperation by manufacturers, packaging providers, facility operators, and others throughout the supply chain, and we’re seeing that kind of collaboration happen more and more throughout industry. Just a glance at the news shows that major players are stepping up and making huge commitments to eco-friendly packaging solutions.

McDonald’s recently set a goal of ensuring that by 2025, 100 percent of its guest packaging will come from renewable, recycled or forest-friendly materials; it also set the goal of recycling 100 percent of the packaging generated in its restaurants.

Coca-Cola has set a goal of making 100 percent of its packaging recyclable by 2030, worldwide.

Amazon has put a huge focus on sustainable packaging and moved over 100 million shipments from boxes to recyclable padded mailers in 2017 alone – a move they claim eliminated over 180 thousand tons of waste.

Getting back to football, this past season the Kansas City Chiefs started selling peanuts in compostable bags at their stadium, as part of a larger environmental initiative by the organization. This was a first for stadium food vending.

For this week’s Thomas Index, we took a look at what our data shows for sourcing activity in the Thomas Network at, for the types of packaging these and other organizations would look for to help meet their sustainability goals.

Sourcing activity for Flexible Packaging was up 97 percent last week over its historical average. Flexible Packaging can be produced from materials such as paper, plastic, film and aluminum foil, and as we saw in the examples from Amazon and the Chiefs, using this type of packaging can significantly reduce waste and shrink the environmental footprint caused during distribution. 

Sourcing for Custom Corrugated Boxes was up 35 percent last week over its historical average, and the related category of Cardboard Boxes was up 10 percent. According to the Corrugated Packaging Alliance, 93 percent of corrugated paperboard gets recovered and recycled, which is more than any other packaging material. The industry is also seeing companies replace wood pallets with corrugated pallets for shipping. For example, in 2009, IKEA used wood pallets almost exclusively - today more than 98 percent of the company’s global shipments are on corrugated pallets.

In addition to these categories, our data also shows steady sourcing activity in categories such as Food Packaging, Cosmetics Packaging, Pharmaceuticals Packaging, and Retail Packaging. When you consider that most manufacturers are already working with their own approved packaging vendors, steady sourcing activity in these categories could be attributed in part to those manufacturers looking for new vendors with additional capabilities or offerings, such as sustainable packaging solutions.

Well, that’s what we’re seeing this week. 

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Hey, thanks for watching, and enjoy the game!

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