Sustainability pivotal to food companies

Posted by Editorial on 27th February 2009

Innovation can eliminate packaging waste and enable a future where all packaging is recycled or its value is recovered, DuPont’s packaging leader said at the industry’s leadership summit.

“The packaging industry has long focused on reducing to the minimum necessary packaging. But this is not enough – we can do more through innovation,” said William F. Weber, vice president and general manager – DuPont Packaging & Industrial Polymers, during the keynote address at the Packaging Strategies CEO Summit.

“Packaging provides value in preventing costly food waste. And, in the future, all packaging can provide added value through recycle and recovery,” Weber added. “By broadening our thinking about what recycling means from a narrow focus on physical recycling to a broad suite of solutions that includes capturing the energy in packaging through waste-to-energy or the nutrient value of food and packaging through composting, we can deliver sustainable value to our customers, to consumers and to the world. This must be our goal as an industry going forward.”

As an example, Weber outlined DuPont’s approach to sustainable growth. He described sustainable packaging, which is aligned with the company’s goals to create shareholder and societal value by reducing the environmental footprint of the value chains where it participates, as an important focus area for DuPont.
Weber called on the packaging industry to take three actions:

1. Develop new technologies that will enable broad recycling in the future. Examples include waste-to-energy, better sorting technologies among others.
2. Set standard measurement and reporting metrics that communicate the footprint for packaging products and the end-of-life recommended disposal method.
3. Support the cap-and-trade approach as a way to establish clear, predictable market-based requirements to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, providing a clear pathway to rapid transformational change to the low-carbon economy the industry seeks.

According to Weber, collaboration will be key to developing technologies and systems for end-of-life solutions that enable this vision, but in light of the economic environment, collaborative innovation is important now. “We absolutely must drive waste from the packaging value chain. Initiatives to cut waste will yield improved sustainability as well as cost-effectiveness,” Weber concluded.