Packaging problems: For consumer facing businesses, one particular challenge lies in plastic packaging, which has grown i.a with the increase in online shopping. A more circular packaging system will help preserve ecosystems and resources, improve reputation and comply with current and future regulations on plastic waste and packaging. It will also reduce costs as less packaging means less storage or transport space per product. Euroconsumers has resources to explain the challenges in more depth, and some that identified several ways that SMEs can work with consumers and suppliers to reduce plastic waste and overpackaging:
- Rethink unnecessary packaging A lot of plastic waste comes from packaging. It is estimated that of the 86 million tons of plastic packaging produced each year, less than 14 per cent is actually recycled. The rest is incinerated or ends up in oceans and landfill. Overpackaging causes more than just a waste disposal problem. The production of plastic packaging is carbon intensive, and excessive packaging means higher delivery and storage costs. With the 1994 Packaging Directive up for review, we can expect new rules on packaging in EU markets so SMEs which get ahead of the curve now will be in a stronger position.
- SMEs can think through with suppliers and consumers how current goods and products could be delivered with less packaging. Depending on the nature of the business, this could include offering bulk purchases or refills or developing concentrated products. It might be cutting out one-way packaging and investing in reusable packaging that can manage multiple deliveries. Consumer-facing businesses can offer bring back services to customers to encourage circularity and build up relationships and reputation with the local community. Find out more about Deco-Proteste’s campaign to reduce overpackaging across the supply chain (in Portuguese).
- Clean and green online shopping Single-use, one-way packaging is used for most e-commerce deliveries, creating a lot of waste. It’s often made up of multiple layers of plastic materials which make it difficult to recycle. The ideal packaging should be returnable, and if that’s not possible, made from a single material from renewable origin that can be easily recycled by consumers. Read how businesses and consumers can reduce plastic waste in online shopping (In Spanish)