September 30, 2020
Packaging is an essential component of any product and is gaining increased attention among stakeholders, including manufacturers, retailers, supply chain partners and consumers. Driven by the growth of e-commerce, the complexity of global supply chains and changing consumer preferences, product packaging has become critical for delivering safe products to market and for reducing waste. However, in a world threatened by climate change and limited natural resources, packaging must be sustainable as well as functional.
The environmental impact of packaging is enormous. Consider some mind-boggling statistics:
- On average, 173 kilograms of packaging waste is generated per inhabitant in the European Union. (Source: EuroStat, “Development of all packaging waste generated, recovered and recycled, EU, 2007-2017)
- 8,300 million metric tons of plastic have been produced since 1950. Of this total, 79% has outlived its usefulness and is sitting in landfills or the natural environment. (Source: The Atlantic, “Half of All Plastic That Has Ever Existed Was Made in the Past 13 Years,” July 19, 2017)
- The global packaging market is expected to grow to $980.4 billion by 2022, increasing the amount of materials potentially destined for the landfill. (Flexible Packaging, “Trends that make it easier to recycle plastic packaging, April 8, 2019.)
Gaining unprecedented adoption among companies worldwide, the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) urge companies to focus their attention on the sustainability and performance of product packaging. Sustainable packaging is critical to achieving several of the SDGs, including SDG No.12, Responsible Consumption and Production, to SDG No.14, Life Below Water and Goal No.15, Life on Land.
For example, by reducing the virgin material used in packaging, manufacturers can help preserve precious natural resources and help achieve responsible consumption and production. By implementing packaging design and recollection programs, companies can help reduce the volume of waste sent to landfills or dumped as ocean plastic. Packaging designed and tested for performance during transit and distribution can reduce waste associated with damaged, perishable or mishandled products that must be disposed of if the packaging is compromised. In addition, the energy required to source, transport and produce packaging can leave an enormous carbon footprint and should be minimized.
When it comes to ensuring the quality, performance and sustainability of packaging, UL’s Cabiate, Italy, laboratory has exceptional expertise and testing capabilities. A state-of-the-art hub in Europe for comprehensive sustainable packaging solutions, UL offers a full range of services to help manufacturers and retailers ensure their packaging meets the most rigorous sustainability, performance and safety standards.
Dedicated to helping customers assess the safety and sustainability of their products, UL offers science-based recycled content claim validation according to UL Standard UL 2809 Environmental Claim Validation Procedure for Recycled Content, which authenticates post-consumer and pre-consumer closed-loop or total recycled product. For product recyclability needs, UL offers validations for the calculation of estimated recyclability rate according to UL Standard 2789 Environmental Claim Validation Procedure for Calculation of Estimated Recyclability Rate, and UL 2485 Standard, Environmental Claim Validation Procedure for Recyclability of Paper-Based Products. The UL ECOLOGO Certification assesses packaging for reduced environmental impact. UL’s Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) provide information disclosure of a product’s environmental impact from a life cycle perspective. To help carbon footprint reporting on packaging, UL’s Turbo CarbonTM carbon emissions software makes reporting simple and affordable. As an International Safe Transit Association (ISTA) Certified Laboratory, UL can test to several ISTA protocols that evaluate the quality and resistance of packaging to help ensure containers maintain the quality and integrity of products during transit, reducing needless waste.
“Packaging is an essential component of any product and can represent a significant portion of the cost of goods and serves the critical function of delivering value to the consumer, whether in the form of preserving the quality or safety of the product, or delivering it in an easily consumable format,” said Giuseppe Barisan, director and general manager of UL’s Environment and Sustainability division in Europe. “Packaging deserves attention similar to that of the product itself and the UL Cabiate, Italy, laboratory is proud to offer comprehensive expertise, testing facilities and advisory solutions to help verify packaging performance, safety and sustainability.”
Sustainable packaging should be part of companies’ overall strategy to bring quality, safe and sustainable products to market. Whether conducting carbon footprint measurement to begin assessing true environmental impact, or embarking on a comprehensive effort to overhaul packaging starting with sustainable design, UL can help.
ISTA Packaging Test
Helping to ensure the security of goods during transport, our assessment process can help mitigate product loss and reduce customer complaints associated with the transit of packaged products.
UL in Cabiate, Italy, Expands ISTA Packaging Tests Available for European Retailers and Manufacturers
Protect the safety and integrity of your products in transit. With UL, companies can feel confident that packaging is up to the job.