What is sustainable packaging? Why do businesses need to adapt and change?

In a day and age when environmental issues are globally prioritized, “waste,” especially “packaging waste,” plays a significant role in environmental degradation. It is no longer just a matter of waste; instead, it has become a close concern for both consumers and producers.

Encouraging consumers to manage their waste after consumption may not always be an efficient solution, especially if the waste is challenging to handle. Conversely, producers need to take responsibility for their packaging right from the source to address the problem effectively.

The production of sustainable packaging may provide a solution to environmental issues. So, what is sustainable packaging? Why do businesses need to adapt and change, and what is the future trend in doing business? Find the answers in this interview with Khun Saroj Chayavivatkul, President  of Thai Beverage Can Ltd., and Dr. Surasak Wannaparhun, BJC Group Innovation Leader, on the Mission to the Moon program. Aluminium Loop has summarized the key points for you.

บรรจุภัณฑ์ยั่งยืนคืออะไร? ทำไมธุรกิจต้องปรับตัวและเปลี่ยนแปลง
A part of the "Mission to the Moon" program: What is sustainable packaging? Why do businesses need to adapt and change?

How does packaging design relate to the management of natural resources and the environment?

  • Packaging businesses have a relatively high environmental impact, both in the production process and post-consumption. However, if we can start making changes from the source (packaging design, material selection, manufacturing processes) and strive to drive social initiatives for efficient waste management through recycling, we can create sustainable businesses that have a positive societal impact.
  • To reduce environmental impact, the manufacturing sector needs to adopt new technologies to minimize the use of various resources, including raw materials and energy. For example, using recyclable materials like aluminium and glass, as well as increasing the use of renewable energy sources. It is essential to ensure that both raw materials and energy come from suitable and sustainable sources.
Aluminium cans, recyclable packaging with no end in sight
Glass bottles, another mono-material packaging

Why haven’t we seen efficient waste separation in Thailand yet?

  • Waste management in Thailand is still not efficient enough due to structural issues and a lack of public knowledge and understanding.
  • First, it is essential to highlight how each type of packaging impacts the environment and what the costs are for managing it. By using this mechanism, it pressures manufacturers to take responsibility for the waste generated from their packaging, following the principles of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) and extending the manufacturers’ responsibility throughout the product life cycle.
  • Manufacturers also have a role in educating the public about waste separation and how it can increase the value of waste. If waste has no value, people will not pay attention to separating it.

What are the challenges of packaging design today?

  • Consumers demand authenticity from manufacturers and brands, requiring deep knowledge and the ability to deliver on promises, supported by accessible and traceable information.
  • Consumers desire greater diversity and expect brands to be more sustainable. Manufacturers must ensure that their packaging can adapt to changing trends and circumstances.
  • Reducing resource and energy consumption is a significant challenge. Finding ways to recycle resources and energy efficiently is crucial.

Driving society, another sustainable plan

  • Consumers want to see if manufacturers are doing good for society or not. If manufacturers can drive themselves, they must also pull society forward. Only then can it be truly sustainable, such as bringing disadvantaged people into the system through employment or being a mechanism for waste management.

The environment is everyone’s issue, also waste is everyone’s issue. The manufacturing sector needs to change the traditional way of doing business that harms the environment. At the same time, it has a responsibility to drive society towards sustainability together.

Thank you for the information from the “Mission to the Moon”, Episode 1632. Listen to the podcast for more details at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GJhRYAmr9RM