• 18th September 2019

Sustainable packaging

The words ‘sustainable packaging’ often recall concepts such as sustainably sourced, recycled content and recyclability. Given the heightened awareness around issues such as deforestation and plastic pollution these associations are fully understandable. However, ‘sustainable’ is just as important as using the right materials.

Certain packaging solutions, particularly those catering to luxury markets, are often energy-intensive to produce.

Within the luxury market, the additional craftmanship and precision machinery required to produce an exceptional product demand excess energy. For a manufacturer to be truly sustainable, it’s imperative that the climate impact of its production efforts – in particular, those that require additional energy – are understood and managed.

Up to the task

GPA Global, a company specialising in custom product presentation around bespoke packaging and displays, is actively working to understand the climate impact of its operations. In November 2017, the company acquired MW Luxury Packaging, a move that necessitated a new approach to its sustainability drive. While well accustomed to driving sustainability through community investment and using environmentally friendly materials, GPA Global has now launched an additional initiative to measure the carbon footprint of its manufacturing facilities and provide recommendations on how this footprint can be reduced. The initiative forms part of a commitment to positively effect a product’s sustainability throughout its life cycle.

The initiative was piloted in 2018 through the calculation of the carbon footprint of a single factory. To support the success of the initiative, GPA Global partnered with UL Environment and Sustainability to reinforce the credibility of the company’s efforts through measurement, validation and certification services.

This partnership ensured that GPA Global followed best practice to efficiently produce an accurate carbon footprint, but also enabled GPA to provide a detailed response to the CDP supply chain survey on behalf of key customers.

Based on the success of the 2018 pilot, GPA Global has furthered its commitment by expanding this carbon management approach to 10 factories, and opted for an approach that empowers factories to understand and implement their own carbon management plan. This shift in approach was chosen so that the positive sustainability effect endures and carbon management becomes embedded at each facility.

To deliver the new approach, GPA Global again partnered with UL. It developed a simple, fast and effective online carbon management tool that injects UL’s carbon management expertise through a learning programme and guided data collection. With data collected, the tool automatically generates an accurate and actionable carbon management report for the factory that reveals where the carbon hotspots are, so that targeted carbon abatement strategies can be developed.

A good comment

Discussing the new approach, Robin Argyrou, UK Operations Director at GPA Global, says, “Simply asking our manufacturing sites to report their carbon footprint would have generated uncertain results. From day one, we have taken the approach of empowering our factories to accurately measure and effectively manage their footprint. This way the teams involve internalise the benefits of carbon management.”

Meanwhile, Alberto Uggetti, general manager of UL’s Environment and Sustainability division, adds,“Measuring and managing carbon is a business necessity. However, to effectively manage carbon requires cultural change, skills development and efficient tools. We are delighted to have supported GPA Global in the development of these attributes, and are excited to see what they achieve in 2019 and beyond.”

With an eye towards the future, GPA Global is exploring whether the approach taken to carbon can be replicated across other environmental dimensions such as waste and water management and product recyclability.