We are finally starting to see big name brands taking a real stand on sustainability for printed products, specifically for packaging. There has been plenty of greenwashing over the years but rather less progress when it comes to supplier obligations, and especially for print service providers (PSP). For printers this has meant that they could make their own choices to offer sustainability related services or not. The time may have come to change that approach.
Proctor and Gamble (P&G), one of the world’s biggest providers of Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) has a requirement that all, yes all, of the wood pulp the company sources comes from a certified source. They specify one of three possibilities for certification. Of these the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is probably the best known. FSC was founded in 1994 to improve forestry management and to provide chain of custody certification for providers of wood based products, including paper and board. The Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) provides a similar service to the FSC, but is an umbrella organisation whose members are national forestry certification bodies. It is larger in terms of certification than FSC and includes both national and international bodies. The Sustainable Forest Initiative (SFI) is perhaps less well known within the graphics industry, but its system of forest management is designed to ensure the long term health and protection of forests and their ecosystems.
P&G has also set sustainability targets of which PSPs should be aware. By the end of 2022 all pulp used for P&G’s Family Care brands, which include all manner of products from baby and personal care through to fabric care, will be 75% FSC certified. By the end of the decade this will rise to 100%. And P&G expects 100% of fibre based packaging to be made from recycled fibre by 2023.
P&G is not alone. Unilever has committed to halve the amount of virgin plastic used in packaging by 2025 by when it will also collect more plastic packaging than it sells. Plastic packages will also be designed for reuse, recycling or composting by then too. Time for packaging printers and converters to start honing that message. Time for commercial printers to start looking ahead.
– Laurel Brunner
This article was produced by the Verdigris Project, an industry initiative intended to raise awareness of print’s positive environmental impact. This weekly commentary helps printing companies keep up to date with environmental standards, and how environmentally friendly business management can help improve their bottom lines. Verdigris is supported by the following companies: Agfa Graphics, EFI, Fespa, Fujifilm, HP, Kodak, Miraclon, RicohSplash PR, Unity Publishing and Xeikon.