Transition to a climate-neutral society
The packaging solutions of the future need to be climate-smart along the whole value chain – from raw material extraction to recycling. As we continue working towards our mission, we are in no doubt that wider society’s focus on sustainability boosts our competitiveness.
Strong global driving forces are affecting the packaging industry – more goods need to be packaged, while at the same time packaging needs to be adapted so that the entire value chain causes the lowest possible carbon emissions. The ability to develop commercially viable climate-smart and circular packaging solutions will be a crucial competitive advantage in the industry over the long term.
Five key factors globally
1. The climate crisis and the circular economy are driving the sustainability agenda.
The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to combat climate change, the Paris Agreement and growing awareness about the climate are driving society in a carbon-neutral direction.A shortage of natural resources and a growing problem of plastic waste are increasing the need for a rapid transition to a more circular economy and driving legislation promoting packaging that is renewable and recyclable or reusable.
2. Growing interest in the forest as a resource
The forest is an important natural resource and we are seeing increased competition for the forest as a raw material for the production of everything from energy to buildings and materials. The most effective approach is for all the parts of the tree to be used where they best come into their own. Managing the forest responsibly is a prerequisite for the forest to both function as a carbon sink and provide renewable raw materials. There are several policy initiatives that are going to affect the way the forest is used.
3. Urbanisation is increasing demand for packaged goods
With a growing proportion of the planet’s population moving from rural areas into cities, people are increasingly far removed from raw materials and local food supplies. At the same time, there is growing urban demand for prepackaged food, drinks and consumer goods. The packaging must first and foremost be safe and effective, so that it protects the contents in transit to the cities, but also renewable, recyclable or reusable in order to be sustainable from an environmental and climate perspective. With increased consumption also comes a major need for infrastructure and systems to handle large material flows, for example through recycling, in order to create circularity.
4. Digitalisation is opening up opportunities
Digitalisation and sustainability must go hand in hand, in order for the advanced technology to promote responsible solutions. One possibility for the packaging industry is that a high degree of digitalisation and access to data in real time will challenge the traditional value chain and open up opportunities for new business, logistics and distribution models, where digital interfaces bring opportunities to effectively reach many stakeholders. The increase in e-commerce is a prime example. Durable e-commerce packaging that protects the goods in transit, can be optimised in terms of capacity, and at the same time offers a positive returns experience for the recipient, requires high standards of material, function and design.
5. Increased focus on health and safety
As the focus on health and safety increases generally across society, so does the focus on food hygiene and product safety for food and drink. Food packaging is able to handle certain challenges relating to a safe and sustainable food supply. The ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic has further increased the focus on food products with a long shelf life and hygienic handling, where packaging is part of the chain. Packaging also needs to be durable to prevent food waste and plays an important role in meeting requirements for product traceability and climate impact information, with full traceability from raw material to food production to packaging materials now widely expected.