Making changes across the supply chain means that we can effectively reduce carbon emissions in our industry. Using circular models that reuse and refill materials is one of the most important steps for drinks brands, something that will become increasingly non-negotiable in Europe as the latest EU legislation sets out stricter rules around packaging.
However, it’s necessary to improve the infrastructure to deliver these schemes. Countries like Denmark prove that it is absolutely achievable to implement successful return schemes but effective cleaning, refilling of bottles and delivery at scale is still a way away in many countries.
Different packaging formats previously dismissed for aesthetic reasons are being reappraised for their sustainable credentials, for example, bag in box and the latest Bagnum pouches.
Alternative formats, such as Frugalpac’s paper bottle and the Packamama recycled PET bottles are becoming more commonplace as the glass industry has been slow to offer effective innovations to solve their high carbon footprint.
Packaging creation and delivery is currently hugely reliant on fossil fuel energy and synthetic (petro)chemical treatment. From factories to transport fleets to bleaching, adhesives and varnishes, manufacturers need to move to renewable energy and bio-chemical alternatives.
Reaching carbon neutral means reshaping how agricultural products are produced, packaged and transported. Yet there are other ways business and brands can offset emissions: from forest conservation and water filtering, to protecting wildlife, the local environment and community.
While excellent in theory, this has become a very grey area as companies and governments have used offsetting and ‘carbon credits’ to essentially paper over their ongoing reliance on fossil fuels. There needs to be far tighter regulations and measurement of these schemes efficacy to reinstate trust. An evolution of offsetting is carbon insetting, including schemes such as ‘blue carbon’, which actively seek to address how to recapture carbon currently in our atmosphere through algae and ocean eco-systems.
Sadly, the bulk of devastation is being felt in poorer countries who are not responsible for the climate crisis. Therefore, it is important and only right that big businesses invest in the restoration of these communities to counteract the lasting damage of climate change.
With consumers’ greater demand for transparency, brands will increasingly come under fire if they cannot demonstrate their sustainable credentials and ensure that every element of the package, design and content reflects an effort to reduce, offset and capture carbon emissions.
It is imperative that drinks brands recognise that making sustainable choices is no longer a matter of choice or preference. Sooner or later, restrictions will come into place that mean businesses could be at a loss if they are not prepared to take drastic action against climate change.
A big part of our futureproof program at Denomination is to help brands take actionable steps to meet their goals – realistic and aspirational – and help make better change happen for everyone.