Embracing Compostable Sustainable Packaging Solutions

By Jagdeep Hira November 06, 2023

Owing to the high-usage rate of FMCG products and sustainability commitments, regenerative packaging is the way forward to reduce the environmental impact of packaging waste

Embracing Compostable Sustainable Packaging Solutions
The increased usage of non-recyclable packaging options adversely affects ecologies and contributes to elevated levels of carbon emissions. Shutterstock

In recent years, the topic of sustainability has made its way into mainstream conversations. It is no longer marketing jargon. One of the vital reasons for this is the escalating concerns surrounding single-use plastic packaging waste. Packaging holds a pivotal role within the food supply chain, carrying significance for both supply chain management and the manufacturing sector. This concern is now intermingling with other potent trends, forging a path towards substantial transformation in consumer packaging practises.

The Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) sector, driven primarily by food products, commands an immense share of global consumption. From the irresistible allure of a perfectly crafted chocolate bar to the quick-fix comfort of instant foods, FMCG brands have seamlessly woven themselves into the fabric of modern existence.

It is high time these food-based FMCG brands turn their attention towards regenerative and compostable packaging alternatives, fuelled by their sustainability commitments. Owing to the high usage rate of FMCG products and sustainability commitments, regenerative packaging is the way forward to minimising the environmental impact of packaging waste generated by the industry.

Regulatory bodies are taking decisive actions to tackle this challenge and driving or motivating FMCG companies and retailers to adopt proactive stances. As a result, many companies are embracing innovative packaging solutions derived from bagasse, seaweed, plants, honeycomb paper, and plant fibres in combination with taking active measures to innovate solutions themselves as well. These alternatives are replacing other non-sustainable packaging materials, resulting in a significant reduction in environmental waste and enhancements in waste management processes.

The Need for Regenerative Packaging

As per the Ocean Conservancy Survey, 8 million metric tonnes of plastic infiltrate the oceans every year. This waste compounds the estimated 150 million metric tonnes of existing oceanic waste. Additionally, approximately 5 million metric tonnes of packaging end up in landfills.

The increased usage of non-recyclable packaging options adversely affects ecologies and contributes to elevated levels of carbon emissions. Countries like Germany, France, and the United Kingdom are actively implementing robust environmental strategies. Similarly, Asian countries, including India, have enforced nationwide bans on single-use plastic bags to mitigate plastic waste's environmental impact.

With the increasing recognition of climate change and the undeniable role of consumer goods packaging in ever-increasing pollution, the predominant force shaping the future of this industry is sustainable packaging. The trajectory ahead will focus on packaging solutions that will contribute towards diminishing carbon footprints.

This involves the use of environmentally friendly materials, the establishment of a green supply chain, and the promotion of compostability, and, in some cases, repurposing. Beyond the production phase, the life cycle of packaging materials that are compostable further contributes to waste reduction and pollution prevention while focusing on giving back to the environment as well. This holistic approach not only addresses environmental concerns but also aligns with evolving consumer sentiment towards responsible consumption.

Taking cue from the warning signs, several brands are already working on developing methods to tackle environmental impact. For instance, compostable solutions are taking the front seat in the current space of packaging. Compostable food packaging in FMCG is beneficial for the environment owing to the fact that it creates a complete circular chain by emerging from the earth and ending its life cycle in the earth. Such packaging can help reduce the environmental impact significantly. Additionally, such packaging has optimal barrier properties that are adequate enough to meet all compliance standards and offer consumers optimum safety as well.

Flexible Packaging and FMCG Sector

Flexible packaging forms an integral part of the FMCG industry, offering a pivotal solution to the mounting challenge of carbon footprint reduction. Unlike traditional rigid packaging, flexible packaging employs lightweight, adaptable materials such as films and papers to craft pouches, bags, and wrappers that mould seamlessly to products' contours.

Unlocking compostable flexible paper packaging is the key to bringing about a significant reduction in the environmental footprint of FMCG businesses. Compostable flexible packaging hosts similar properties to those of non-biodegradable materials while coming at a minimal environmental cost.

In a world striving for sustainability, compostable flexible packaging serves as a tangible bridge between convenience and conservation. As the food FMCG sector reimagines its packaging practises, embracing compostable flexible packaging holds the promise of a cleaner Earth.

In an attempt to adopt eco-friendly business practises, businesses are switching to sustainable packaging materials throughout the supply chain. As per a report by the IAMRC Group, India's sustainable packaging industry is expected to grow at a CAGR of 7.24% between 2023 and 2028.

In a world that is battling with environmental challenges, the food-based FMCG sector stands at a crossroads, armed with the power to reshape consumption patterns. By embracing compostable, flexible packaging, these brands can weave a narrative of transformation, where the very products that bring joy to our lives also become vehicles of positive change.

(Jagdeep Hira is Business Head at Pakka Limited, India.)