The waste challenge
Waste is both an operational and economic reality for industry. Waste management requires careful planning, investment, and a constant awareness of current and upcoming legislation. It is therefore unsurprising that cradle-to-grave waste management is one of the most sought-after sustainability offerings for businesses.
Companies employ a variety of methods to reduce packaging waste, such as redesigning existing packaging and ensuring new designs are environmentally friendly.
- ‘Lightweighting’ is one widely used strategy. This involves reducing the size and weight of packaging to lessen the weight of a transport shipment, thus lowering its carbon footprint. Research has found that a 10% reduction in packaging weight will result in a transportation fuel reduction ranging from 2% to 8.4% 1.
- Increased part density is another approach. This is the process of optimising space utilisation by shipping more parts in the same amount of space. The automotive industry is a leader in designing packaging to increase part density in containers. Greater part density translates into the need for fewer containers, fewer shipments and, ultimately, transport cost reduction.
Understanding life cycle thinking
‘Life cycle thinking’ considers the environmental impact a product will have throughout its lifetime. By considering the end-to-end life cycle of a product, businesses aim to reduce its overall environmental impact. However, this can involve certain trade-offs, lessening impact at different stages. For example, in order to produce a product that is recyclable at the end of its life, a more energy intensive manufacturing process might have been required to create it.
Meeting regulatory requirements
Around the globe, governing bodies are writing waste management requirements into law. Waste oil is a particularly difficult area for industry. Different types of oils have their own disposal specification and many businesses lack knowledge of how to deal with multiple oils effectively. Bridging this gap is critical, as improperly disposing waste oil can create contamination and cause damage to the surface of ground soil2.
1 Shaw, R., 2020. Lightweight Packaging: Benefits For Producers And Consumers. [online] Assemblies Unlimited, Inc. Available at: https://www.assemblies.com/lightweight-packaging-benefits/
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