01 October 2015
Food and beverage sustainability leaders will face three key challenges in the future: dematerialization, resource security of quality raw materials and considering the full lifecycle of packaging design. As we look for ways to remain competitive within our industry, some of the solutions are within our power.

Dematerialization – Do More With Less

Buckminister Fuller coined the term Ephemeralization which is the technological advancement to do, “more and more with less and less until eventually you can do everything with nothing”. Multinational food and beverage companies are adopting this theory into their global supply chains in order to adhere to new retailer and government requirements for more environmentally friendly products and packaging. These endeavours have been successful to-date in terms of minimizing the supply chain footprint and successfully meeting retailer scorecards and government requirements. Moving forward, companies will need to assess opportunities to completely eliminate certain material use and omit unnecessary processes from value chain operations in pursuing Buckminister Fuller’s vision.

Emphasize the importance of resource security and quality raw materials

Multinationals are increasingly concerned with unstable pricing of feedstock due to climate change and natural disasters. Corporate leaders will need to explore supply chain strategies that will enable them to secure clean feedstock at predictable pricing. By placing emphasis on using renewable materials, such as fibre, which can be replenished and circulated back into future production, the price volatility faced by companies today can be mitigated.

Lifecycle Package Design theory in Practice

There is a fine balancing act between reducing the environmental footprint of a package and fulfilling its primary purpose which is to properly contain, preserve and protect its contents from spoiling and turning to waste. The best way to ensure these standards are met is to provide a robust package which has been designed with a holistic lifecycle approach. Applying best practice tools such as life-cycle analysis or Design for Environment standards in product development can help to get there ensuring progress through innovation.
As an example, one can consider how to optimize their package by light-weighting, by new material or technological innovation, or by investing into a recycling infrastructure. Those strategies come with their unique cost and environmental advantages, but the underlying priority is protecting the product.

To continue to thrive in a diverse competitive market, as an industry we must shift the way we think about economic growth to a thought process that considers these key elements of sustainability.
For more articles on food and beverage sustainability:

Value Chain Sustainability: Collaboration the Key to Success

Packaging Innovation for Sustainability

The Benefits of Life Cycle Analysis
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