Need for more transparency drives sustainable innovation

Consumers are demanding more transparency over the environmental footprint of the products they consume, driving a growing movement towards sustainable packaging


SPONSORED BY Avery Dennison

Transparency, a concept already gaining ground before the pandemic, has been galvanised by the rapid spread of the coronavirus, showing just how quickly change can be implemented if the need arises.

Consumers are also increasingly demanding transparency, with 70 per cent saying trust in a brand is more important now than in the past, according to research by Edelman.

As consumers learn more about how packaging waste, especially plastics, ends up in landfills and oceans, they want to know and understand where products came from and what their environmental footprint is.

Conscious consumers are increasingly aware of a product’s journey and the need to move from a linear to a circular economy, whereby products are designed to be reused, recycled or composted. Sustainable innovation is required in the packaging industry to enable a truly circular economy, and ultimately regenerative practices, to be achieved.

A recent report by Avery Dennison, titled The New Transparency, underlines the importance of transparency as a powerful tool capable of giving businesses unprecedented control over their supply chains and environmental footprint, while offering consumers increased visibility, safety and education.

It outlines ways businesses can offer a higher level of trust, including through digital identities, tracing and sustainable materials, within four category-specific microtrends: blockchain and analytical technologies, labelling, packaging and secondary waste.

“First and foremost, consumers are demanding this information; they want to understand the environmental footprint and be able to trace the provenance and journey, in detail, of the products they buy,” says Renae Kezar, global senior director and head of sustainability at Avery Dennison. “But embedding transparency also serves to unlock more effective decision-making for businesses, increasing their resilience.

“Materials will play a key role in achieving a transparent circular economy. In the packaging sector, the circular-economy model handles all stages of a product life cycle: design, production, distribution and use, but also its ‘afterlife’.

“Considering sustainability and even striving for regenerative business models from the start of the cycle means designing materials to take into account resource efficiency, reuse and recycling, and avoiding use of critical or toxic materials.”

Avery Dennison is a global materials science company that specialises in the design and manufacture of labelling and functional materials. Its engineering solutions are sustainable in their own right and improve the sustainability of any value chain they’re part of.

The organisation’s intelligent labels, for example, offer the potential for huge gains in sustainability by enabling far more efficient supply chains and better communication with consumers about proper recycling and food-waste management.

The continued advance of sustainable innovation in the packaging industry relies on engagement and collaboration across the whole ecosystem, from initial choice of materials and design of packaging and labelling solutions, right through to a product’s afterlife. Avery Dennison engages with venture startups, brands, recycling companies, forward-thinking suppliers and manufacturers, as well as other capability and technology enablers.

As trailblazers for regeneration and innovators in the labels and packaging industry, we aim to delight our consumers on all fronts

“The ecosystem is much broader than people think,” says Hassan Rmaile, vice president and general manager at Avery Dennison, Europe, Middle East and North Africa. “Breaking new ground in sustainability requires us all to expand our idea of our ecosystem and adopt 360-degree thinking, with the understanding that game-changing ideas can come from anywhere.

“The biggest change we see is we are not alone in thinking this way anymore. More often than not, we are approached by brand owners that come to us, as the market leader, for a labelling solution which meets their sustainability goals.

“As trailblazers for regeneration and innovators in the labels and packaging industry, we aim to delight our consumers on all fronts with advanced materials, design, aesthetics, experience, sustainability and technology.

“While serious strides have been made already, the future is coming fast and change is a constant. We always aspire to be at the forefront. Whether it’s packaging that vanishes, easily enters the circular economy, is digitally connected or has longevity through upcycling, brands must be prepared and embrace new technologies, materials and sustainable designs as they become available.”

Read Avery Dennison’s report on The New Transparency at label.averydennison.com/transparency