Sustainability – how serious can we be?

To move from incineration and down-cycling to lateral recycling is going to be tough


When we talk to those setting up new packaging projects, especially in flexible packaging, sustainability is not a priority. When we talk to established packaging companies, economic sustainability, and profitability to sustain growth come before environmental and social sustainability.

It is a complicated and evolutionary road to move from Central Pollution Control Board regulations whereby brand owners have to merely pay for the collection of packaging waste equivalent to what they use. To improve the use of materials and processes that will allow lateral recycling of packaging waste rather than down-cycling is challenging. It requires more than just financial commitment by the brand owners.

Brand owners are compelled to follow the CPC regulations on packaging waste and show their compliance. However, for some brand owners, it merely means that they pay a waste collection agency or company for picking up or procuring packaging waste of an equivalent tonnage to what they use. In many cases, they merely cite the certificates or numbers they are paying for in their compliance documents.

The price of packaging is often a chess match where the packaging buyer and seller try to meet the usually impossible task of price reduction without a reduction in quality or shelf-life. A senior packaging manager tells us that it takes quite a bit of stamina to stand up to the management and explain that the goal of in-house packaging development is not merely cost reduction. But often, this is the easiest thing to monitor or equate with success.

According to him, brand owners must nurture and even invest in their packaging suppliers. One is not only paying for the maintenance of current quality and timeliness. The brand owner is also investing not just in the packaging but also in its research and development to improve the shelf impact and resilience of the packaging in a reasonable period. What is needed from the packaging buying and development department jointly with the supplier is research and development, scalability, and innovation.

Evolution but time-bound change

It means that brand owners need to move beyond the current compliances and scale up the business itself (the consumer product) to where they can afford innovation. Our innovations in packaging themselves need to be scalable also. This requires both collaboration and patience.

It is a necessarily collaborative process for every brand owner and every packaging supplier to be in this relationship. There must be some understanding or agreement on clear sustainability improvement goals. There must be step-by-step safety, health, and environmental goals. And for even this evolutionary process to work, it must be time-bound.

The impact, resilience, and growth of responsible packaging in a wide region are daily chronicled by Packaging South Asia.

A multi-channel B2B publication and digital platform such as Packaging South always aware of the prospect of new beginnings and renewal. Its 16-year-old print monthly, based in New Delhi, India has demonstrated its commitment to progress and growth. The Indian and Asian packaging industries have shown resilience in the face of ongoing challenges over the past three years.

As we present our publishing plan for 2023, India’s real GDP growth for the financial year ending 31 March 2023 will reach 6.3%. Packaging industry growth has exceeded GDP growth even when allowing for inflation in the past three years.

The capacity for flexible film manufacturing in India increased by 33% over the past three years. With orders in place, we expect another 33% capacity addition from 2023 to 2025. Capacities in monocartons, corrugation, aseptic liquid packaging, and labels have grown similarly. The numbers are positive for most of the economies in the region – our platform increasingly reaches and influences these.

Even given the disruptions of supply chains, raw material prices, and the challenge of responsible and sustainable packaging, packaging in all its creative forms and purposes has significant headroom to grow in India and Asia. Our context and coverage engulf the entire packaging supply chain – from concept to shelf and further – to waste collection and recycling. We target brand owners, product managers, raw material suppliers, packaging designers and converters, and recyclers.

In an admittedly fragmented and textured terrain, this is the right time to plan your participation and marketing support communication – in our impactful and highly targeted business platform. Tell us what you need. Speak and write to our editorial and advertising teams! For advertisement , for editorial and for subscriptions

– Naresh Khanna

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