Questions are being asked about the way we use plastic, what we use it for and how much we need. In the case of plastic packaging, some question whether having no plastic is actually better than any packaging at all. But, as Mondi Group’s consumer packaging CEO Georg Kasperkovitz says, this is the moment for all of us to embrace
Each morning this summer brings us another dystopian image of a paradise beach strewn with plastic waste. The evening news serves up another story of sea birds with bellies full of plastic.
I make flexible plastic packaging for consumer goods for a living and I value the environment as much as anyone, but I for one am glad this moment is here. Why do I say that?
Simple. Seeing is believing. Believing is caring. And now, finally, everyone sees the problem. Or, actually, they think they see the problem. Sometimes the real problem is the one you don’t see; the thing that’s not there, such as effective waste collection and recycling.
The fact is proper packaging that’s fit for its purpose, and designed for reuse and recycling, is among our most important tools to minimise environmental footprint and mitigate climate change. And such packaging solutions are here and ready for the market.
For years Mondi has been making sustainable paper and flexible plastic packaging solutions for forward-thinking, fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) brands, and in collaboration with sustainable materials suppliers and recyclers.
Our paper and flexible plastic packaging solutions regularly win prizes and recognition at trade fairs, but commercial demand for some of our most innovative sustainable packaging was limited before this year. The public’s focus on the impact of plastic waste in the oceans is changing that.
The debate around plastic waste is driving the first-ever European strategy for plastics in a circular economy. A global plastics protocol to support the creation of effective recycling markets may soon follow. Now two thirds of the questions we get from FMCG companies – our customers – are about sustainable packaging; they want to know about production capacity and time to market. These are important developments.
Still there seems to be a general view that sustainability will cost consumers or companies more. I don’t buy that. Sure, there are extra costs in the beginning, when you’re testing renewables to replace fossil fuels, adapting production, and developing collection and recycling systems where there were none. But the more we learn and scale up, and the more demand there is from consumers and companies, the more prices will fall. Over time, we all benefit from economies of scale.