Sustainable Packaging Development Gathers Pace

Continued and increasing awareness of and concern for sustainability and packaging’s impact on the environment have encouraged a number of fmcg multinationals to further their development of sustainable packaging solutions. 2009 saw the launch of the PlantBottleTM from The Coca-Cola Company. What Coca-Cola has done with the PlantBottleTM is replace some of its use of petroleum-based plastics with plant-based materials, more precisely sugar cane sourced from Brazil.

The result is a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions and reliance on fossil fuels. Furthermore, the plant-based PET bottle is fully recyclable. In 2011, five billion Coca-Cola PlantBottlesTM were sold across 20 countries, up from 2.5 billion in nine countries in 2010. Its global usage of five billion bottles has had the impact of eliminating the use of approximately 120,000 barrels of oil.

With carbonates globally using 94.2 billion PET bottles in 2011, there is huge potential to expand the use of sustainable packaging. Global demand for PET in the soft drinks industry forecast to expand by 71 billion units between 2012 and 2015.

The use of such sustainable plant-based bottles is expanding beyond soft drinks to the packaged food market, with companies such as Heinz entering this field in 2011 through an agreement with Coca-Cola. This is a very strategic move at a time when many consumers are moving towards private label products or cheaper brands. With an increased focus on the issue of sustainability, the introduction of plant-based bottles should win over a number of environmentally-aware consumers and boost the share of Heinz.

Sustainability not exclusive to foods and beverages

Due to its commodity nature hair care is one of the largest beauty and personal care categories globally. In 2011, hair care accounted for an 18% value share of all beauty and personal care sales. In packaging unit volume terms, hair care performed well in 2011, growing by 6% globally.

Despite the current grim economic climate, positive signs are being seen in many markets. As such, brands are once again focusing on offering added-value products in order to regain some of the value share which may have been lost. The issue of sustainability has also entered the beauty and personal care arena. The natural trend continues to be very important for key players and is encouraging mainstream brands to launch products in this category.

One of the most important examples has been the launch of a ‘green’ range from L’Oréal Groupe, called Garnier Fructis Pure Clean, which promotes a silicone and paraben-free formulation and over 90% biodegradable ingredients. Procter & Gamble’s Pantene ProV Nature Fusion is another example of how large companies are keen to focus their R&D investment on products based on natural ingredients. Procter & Gamble has also gone one step further, launching this Pantene brand extension in a sustainable plant-based HDPE bottle, thus making this line of products even more environmentally-friendly, initially launched in Western Europe in 2011 the brand plans to expand reach of this plant-based HDPE bottle globally.