Sustainability is not just a buzz word. For packaging brands and retailers, the time to switch from a reactive to proactive sustainability strategy is now. It is not too late to begin converting your corporate policies today and start delivering responsible and meaningful actions that lessen the overall impact on our environment over the long term.
So, as the famous proverb says, while the best time to plant a tree may have been 20 years ago, the second-best time is now. Here are five tips from ecoveritas on how to change your reactive sustainability strategy into a proactive one.
#1. Set a top down example
Company executives, key stakeholders and directors must help drive a corporate sustainability narrative to cultivate and foster a proactive environmental culture. Employees that physically see top level management backing these strategies by representing and maintaining good sustainability practices within the business are much more likely to follow suit. However, company directors may not change their traditional views unless they are challenged otherwise. Here, leaders in environmental strategy must document and quantify potential business vulnerabilities, including the related costs of environmental neglect, through real world examples to encourage and convince a change in corporate behaviour from the top down.
In doing so, organisations can build awareness in corporate environmental strategy with digital, on- or off-site training days for staff. At ecoveritas, we offer a range of bespoke training solutions to maximise the impact of your business. So, by investing in a zero-waste mindset and encouraging reuse and recycling throughout the business, not only will you achieve improved environmental performance but there are long-term financial benefits to be gained too.
#2. Go beyond compliance with a supply chain audit
Reactive sustainability strategies primarily focus on the quick wins. This means in the short-term that easy environmental policy changes, for example in existing manufacturing processes or waste management systems, will be identified and rectified to sustain current measures. Brands and retailers that go beyond compliance by understanding how they can close existing gaps in their supply chain, discover new opportunities, and identify potential environmental risks before they become damaging, are already benefiting from using a proactive strategy.
At ecoveritas, we want to support brands and retailers that are looking to go the extra mile. Our supply chain audit can assist with Lifecycle Assessments (LCAs) to measure the true environmental impact of a pack, product, service or process over its entire existence, while our competitor benchmarking service enables you to understand where your packaging sits in relation to industry standards. For brands and retailers looking to the future, we also offer an Horizon Scanning service to present how emerging trends in legislation and markets may affect your current business processes and performance.
#3. Optimise packaging, reduce waste
If proactive sustainability strategies are all about going beyond what is required by current government legislation, then designing for the environment can hit the mark every time. Discovering how a product can use less packaging material, use recycled or sustainably sourced materials during manufacture, or reduce energy consumption in use, are all elements that should be reviewed regularly through packaging optimisation. Designing in this way not only increases sales, but offsets the environmental impact from production processes that, in turn, can enable further investment in better sustainability practices.
To help brands and retailers convert their existing packaging designs, our packaging optimisation service, led by a team of packaging experts, delivers a complete structural redesign service and cost-efficiency analysis that takes into consideration your current needs, performance and capabilities. Our focus is not on stretching your capabilities beyond your means, it is purely to determine where there are opportunities for improvement. When every action leads to a reaction, sometimes it is easier to step away from the process to see the bigger picture in its entirety. This is where ecoveritas can help – we’re a fresh pair of eyes with the skills and experience to make a difference.
#4. Understand new legislation
With the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) reforms, the new plastic packaging tax and country-specific legislation emerging every day, there are many challenges that brands and retailers are facing in the next 12 months alone. Keeping abreast of this legislation is difficult in normal times, let alone in the middle of a global pandemic. However, partnering with packaging data specialists that understand these new policies and can present the information in a simplified and relevant way for your business is one of the ways you can switch from a reactive to a proactive sustainability strategy.
With our expertise, we will guide you through our online customer portal where you can easily visualise what materials you are using, how you are using them and where they end up post-use. Combined with our plastic tax calculator and our EPR service, brands and retailers can be assured they are in safe hands with ecoveritas.
#5. Set realistic targets
Organisations that understand where their vulnerabilities lie are in the best position to set realistic and achievable environmental targets. Data that is provided through supply chain audits can be used to implement effective two, three or five-year strategies depending on the company’s current resources and ability to invest. Each strategy will differ on the size of the business and scope of the vision, but it should remain at the heart of your business. Bringing together an environmental team with technicians, business strategists and financial leads to control the day-to-day running of activities can bring significant benefits. Combine that team with a data specialist, like ecoveritas, enables you to set agreeable targets and revise them annually to continually stretch beyond those goals while remaining realistic. To truly deliver, a business needs a proactive team to deliver proactive results.