Global CEO Forum gives birth to the Global Packaging Project 405

January 29, 2014

3 Min Read
Global CEO Forum gives birth to the Global Packaging Project

The Global CEO Forum brings together the CEOs of major consumer packaged goods and retail companies twice a year. Responding to growing concerns about potential inefficiencies arising from insufficient coordination of sustainability actions by various stakeholders and a lack of common or harmonized standards, one of the outcomes of the November 2008 meeting was the formation of the Global Packaging Project.

Under the guidance of Association des Industries de Marque (AIM),, Comité International d'Entreprises à Succursales (CIES, the Grocery Manufacturers Association and the Food Marketing Institute, a working group of member company representatives met this past spring to develop definitions and common principles for metrics used to measure the sustainability of packaging.

One of the key consensus principles identified by the working group was that the metrics used to measure sustainability need to be life cycle-based and address the relevant aspects of the life cycle of packaging. In some cases these metrics may be well-understood life cycle impact categories and in other cases, they may not. Another key point of consensus was that the sustainability of packaging cannot be measured in a single metric.

At the most recent June 2009 meeting, the work accomplished to-date was presented, along with the recommendation that the group continue its work by identifying a set of globally recognized, standard sustainability metrics for packaging. The goal is to develop a set of accepted metrics that are well documented in terms of their relevance to packaging, the algorithms and methodologies used to calculate them and guidance for the type of information needed to support them. This has the potential to create useful guidance for the supply chain and goes a long way to create some much needed standardization. The work is set to begin in the third quarter of 2009.

While it remains to be seen what will come out of this process, the intent is not to be prescriptive in what metrics any company uses to measure the sustainability of packaging. What it's supposed to achieve is that for any metric an organization chooses to use, there will be standard guidance the supply chain can refer to regarding its use. This could have significant benefits in terms of simplifying and standardizing information requests for packaging.

This spring, the Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC) released to its members the Sustainable Packaging Indicators and Metrics Framework after an 18-month effort to develop a comprehensive set of metrics to measure progress toward SPC's definition of sustainable packaging. After reviewing 54 different sources of metrics related to sustainability, an SPC working group went through a rigorous process to a select those metrics most applicable to packaging and align them with the eight elements of the SPC definition. The value of this work is that it is guided by a clear vision for the sustainability of packaging and benefited from the expertise of a diverse group of packaging and sustainability professionals.

We at the SPC have been invited to share this work with the Global Packaging Project, and the work will be reviewed during the upcoming phase of the project.

It is expected that with continued collaboration, the Global Packaging Project can produce useful guidance to clarify, standardize and minimize this barrier to the effective assessment of the environmental, social and economic characteristics of packaging in the context of sustainability.

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