Washington: The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) recently announced the results of survey research indicating that food, beverage and consumer products manufacturers anticipate that they will eliminate four billion pounds of packaging waste nationwide from 2005-2020.
More than 1.5 billion pounds have already been avoided since 2005, and another 2.5 billion pounds are expected to be avoided by 2020. The four billion pounds represents a 19 percent reduction of reporting companies’ total average U.S. packaging weight.
“Across the board, the food, beverage and consumer products industry has been vigilant in its efforts to reduce its environmental footprint,” says Pamela G. Bailey, president and CEO of GMA. “When it comes to eliminating packaging from the supply chain, we have already made significant progress, but we know we can do more. We look forward meeting this goal to eliminate four billion pounds of packaging by 2020.”
The 1.5 billion pounds of packaging avoided since 2005 includes more than 800 million pounds of plastic and more than 500 million pounds of paper. Packaging improvements have spanned most product categories, with no single category dominating. Companies reported that they achieved the 2005-2010 reductions through the success of more than 180 distinct improvement initiatives that included package redesigns and increased use of recyclable inputs.
“In eliminating this packaging from the supply chain, we are reducing a significant volume of waste that would otherwise end up in landfills, but the benefits go far beyond that. Companies are reporting that packaging improvements are also enabling them to ship more units per truckload, reduce green house gas emissions and conserve resources such as water and energy,” notes GMA senior director, energy and environmental policy John Shanahan.
The greenhouse gas emissions avoided by a four billion pound packaging reduction have the equivalent impact of removing 815,000 cars from the road or 363,000 homes from the energy grid for one year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Greenhouse Gas Equivalency Calculator.
The report is based on the findings of two surveys conducted for GMA by McKinsey and Co. and Georgetown Economic Services. To download the report, go to www.gmaonline.org/file-manager/Sustainability/ReducingOurFootprint.pdf.