16 March 2016

By Elisabeth Comere, director environment & government affairs for the U.S. and Canada
Protecting Earth and its resources is increasingly high on our collective global agenda. As a result, companies from a variety of industries are launching initiatives to minimize their impact on the environment, preserving resources while keeping the climate in balance with a lower carbon footprint.
 
As companies strive towards greener goals, we will improve our ability to amplify the importance of renewable materials and sustainable sourcing to preserve natural resources and reduce climate change by working with each other to educate and engage with consumers, encouraging them to make more environmentally-responsible decisions.
 
But sustainability doesn’t happen in silos. It will take a critical mass, motivating our industries and consumers, to drive the change needed to address resource scarcity.
 
We can make strides in this effort by starting with these realistic steps forward.
 
Keep on moving
As the global population grows and the demand for packaged goods increases, resources are under greater pressure, potentially disrupting entire supply chains. While recycling is crucial to sustainability, there are still many opportunities for suppliers, manufacturers, brand owners and others to preserve resources earlier in the product life cycle – from the field and forest when sourcing supplies, in the manufacturing and packaging process, and in bringing those products to store shelves and consumers.
 
That’s the focus of “Moving To The Front,” which highlights the need for industry practices to focus on material sourcing to help protect the world’s limited natural resources. Adopting renewable materials and amplifying their positive impact – like offsetting environmental strain on resources, creating supply stability, and better preparing future growth for companies – can benefit everyone involved, resulting in long-term shared value for both businesses and society.
 
Let’s talk about it
While consumers are generally mindful of recycling, we have a real opportunity to help them understand how sustainability can be considered even before they bring products home.
 
While many people don’t realize that factoring what a product’s packaging is made of (and how its materials were sourced) into their purchasing decisions can play a role in helping to preserve natural resources, research shows that consumers who are educated about resource scarcity are more inclined to make eco-friendly decisions about packaging.

Tetra Pak recently launched extensive research to determine renewable lifestyle habits among consumers. Last December, Tetra Pak surveyed 2,000 consumers from the U.S. and Canada and found that 75 percent of consumers believe choosing products packaged with renewable materials will protect the planet. Of those surveyed, 58 percent would switch from their regular brand if they knew another brand uses packaging that can be replenished naturally over time.

These findings reinforce previous research conducted by Tetra Pak and Global Footprint Network, which surveyed 1,000 U.S. consumers who make decisions about groceries and found that only 41 percent of respondents reported being very aware of the issue of resource constraints. However, an overwhelming number of respondents (86 percent) said that if they knew that renewable packaging contributed to reduced carbon emissions and helped slow climate change, it would impact their choice of packaging.

With this in mind, companies can help drive awareness by proactively educating consumers about the benefits of renewable materials, like wood fiber and sugarcane, which are natural materials that can be regrown or replenished over time.
 
Get personal
But how can companies get consumers to want to engage?

Simply put, by showing them how renewable habits can have a personal impact.
 
A recent social experiment and scientific study commissioned by Tetra Pak found that adopting simple, renewable habits to protect the earth’s natural resources led to improved levels of happiness among consumers. Whether they were taking shorter showers, reducing food waste or making eco-minded choices while grocery shopping, the participants who practiced renewable lifestyle choices (70 percent) ended up being significantly happier, while benefitting the world around them.
 
Encourage action
When it comes to preserving the planet's resources, there’s strength in numbers, and our industries have the potential to expand that reach exponentially.
 
For brands, it may mean calling out renewable content in their carton and explaining its importance in helping mitigate resource scarcity issues. We know that consumers, once educated, are ready to do their part. Luckily, even the simplest behaviors have the power to make an impact on a global scale.
 
Please join us in the real and present opportunity to enlist our partners and consumers in the effort towards #RenewableLiving.
 

 
Elisabeth Comere is director of environment and government affairs for Tetra Pak U.S. & Canada. She is charged with advancing the company's commitment to sustainability, and overseeing numerous industry and customer packaging sustainability initiatives.



 
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