Poll: Lack of data delays packaging sustainability targets

More than three quarters of packaging professionals (85%) say their business’s sustainability targets are taking longer to reach than they expected, with a third (38%) admitting they currently lack sufficient data to make informed, positive changes when it comes to sustainability, according to a new pan-European poll.

The poll of experts from a range of global e-commerce brands, conducted by packaging sustainability consultancy Aura at the E-PACK Europe conference in Vienna, reveals that fewer than one in six (15%) said they had all the data they would need to make informed changes.

Nearly half the industry leaders (46%) think greater sustainability leads to increased sales that will boost their organisation’s profitability, although 15% are concerned that the increased fees from legislation like Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) will eat away any extra profits.

Greg Lawson, managing director at Aura, said: “The e-commerce sector is a key driver of packaging advancement and technology, so it’s concerning that many seem to be struggling to meet their sustainability targets.

“Live, real-time data is key, which is why many are investing in platforms to help them better understand and manage their packaging sustainability needs from moment one, during the product development stage, rather than relying on optimisation processes after the fact. 

“The air we ship, the over-packing we create and the additional materials we use can all be measured and managed over time to deliver a commercial and sustainable benefit.

“Better use of data also opens the door for greater profitability. If e-commerce brands manage the needs of EPR from the start, they’re better able to manage the costs.”

The survey also revealed that nearly a third of industry leaders (31%) admit they’re struggling to educate consumers on packaging sustainability because every brand and retailer has its own rules and processes for doing so. 

A quarter (23%) think that education in this area is not just for brands and retailers.

Greg Lawson concludes: “Consumer education remains one of the great challenges when it comes to packaging sustainability. There is very little in the way of consistent rules, whether by brands or by governments, so it’s easy to understand why.”

“To achieve a genuine circular economy, everyone has to do their part in the education process and there has to be more consistency. It’s too easy for everyone to pass the responsibility on to someone else.”

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