Changing the World – One Takeaway A Time
A packaging revolution is taking place in the F&B industry with innovative solutions at the forefront. We highlight five ways companies can switch to a more sustainable packaging process.
Plastic packaging has become omnipresent in our daily lives. Unfortunately, so has plastic waste. With the lack of waste collection and recycling systems to cope with the alarming growth of packaging waste, the plastic pollution crisis has been snowballing in India. In a research study conducted by Un-Plastic Collective, it was found that India generates 9.46 million tons of plastic waste annually, out of which 40% remains uncollected, only a part goes for recycling, and the rest gets dumped in landfills and often makes its way to the oceans. According to WEF, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish, by 2050.
It is reported that of the 8.3 billion tonnes of plastic produced since its invention in the 1930s, only 9% has been recycled, 12% is incinerated, and the remaining 79% is still in the environment or landfills.
It is not only the litter and health impact of plastic pollution that is a major concern but also the fact that 98% of SUPs (single-use plastics) are manufactured from fossil fuels. One pound of plastic creates three pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2) during manufacturing. On the current trajectory of production, it has been projected that single-use plastic could account for 5-10% of greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
What A Consumer Wants
There is still hope. As consumer awareness rises, so does the pressure to reduce food packaging waste. From consumer preferences to regulatory compliances, there is a major shift happening in the packaging industry. The pressure has intensified even more since India’s Central Government issued a nation-wide ban on single use plastics starting July 1.
The QSR and fast food restaurants are in the eye of the storm along with FMCG brands, as 43% of the annual plastic waste generated is used for packaging, most of which is single-use.
The consumers are well aware of the plastic waste impacting their health and the environment. In a survey by McKinsey, it was found that consumers in Asia, particularly India, indicate the highest levels of concern when it comes to sustainable food packaging as well as most willingness to pay for green. Amongst the different packaging categories mentioned in the survey, the Indian consumers gave the highest importance to sustainable fast-food packaging.
Risk Mitigation Has Begun for Brands
While discussing businesses and climate crisis, it is definitely a challenge for restaurants to switch from plastic which is versatile, cheap, leak proof, and can withstand extreme environments. Unfortunately, the damage it does far outweighs its use for a few minutes. Major players like McDonald’s, Burger King, Starbucks, are already pivoting to biodegradable and even reusable packaging options. Big Indian brands like Zomato, are switching to ‘plastic free deliveries ‘ and Bira91 has even pledged to become India’s first net zero beer resulting in minimising plastic packaging and promoting eco-friendly packaging.
How to Switch to Sustainable
While it is not an easy journey, here are a few ways for brands to reduce plastic waste and become more sustainable:
1. Measure your plastic/carbon footprint
“You can’t manage what you can’t measure”. The basic and yet a critical component is to start measuring your brand’s plastic consumption and carbon footprint. Once measured, you will have a better understanding of the hotspots and find ways to reduce your footprint. There are various sustainability reporting software that can help organizations measure and track their emissions and consumption.
Tools like Snowkap’s specialised reporting tool helps calculate your plastic and carbon footprint. Through detailed reports, you can get access to your plastic to dollar cost and carbon to dollar cost. You will also get an in-depth understanding of which parts of your business are plastic/carbon heavy, and plan/reduce offsets accordingly.
2. Recycle Your Plastic
Most of the environmental concern with plastic is due to the fact that it is not recycled and ends up in landfills harming the planet, the animals and ultimately, us. When you recycle your plastic, you prevent it from entering the landfills and this process can have a monumental impact in your business.
Businesses can also choose to offset their plastic consumption which means you can remove the same/similar amount of plastic waste from the environment as your business has consumed. This helps to prevent plastic pollution and helps create a positive social change as well.
Snowkap also offers businesses an option to offset their plastic consumption through our certified partner network. Compensate for your plastic consumption and communicate about the positive impact you’ve made to your consumers and your investors.
3. Procure Centrally, Get Delivery Locally
Sourcing locally will significantly reduce your carbon footprint as the product has to travel a comparatively shorter distance. Not only is it good for the environment but also for the local economy. When you source locally, you also have more flexibility, autonomy, and greater control over the quantity and quality of the product than you would if you were sourcing internationally. The pandemic showed us how fragile our supply chains are, choosing to procure locally gives more security and stability to your business. Businesses can also be benefited from supply chain sustainability softwares to maintain data/records and have a better understanding of their procurement practices.
On the Snowkap Marketplace, you can raise RFQs and choose to get delivery from local producers and distributors.
4. Make Incremental Changes
We understand that it is daunting to completely change your business process overnight. So, start with small changes that are fairly easy: Few examples:
- Switching from plastic straws to biodegradable/compostable ones,
- Paper tissues to tree-free paper tissues,
- Plastic tape to paper tape (Plastic tape is hard to recycle considering its size)
- Plastic cutlery to bagasse cutlery that is biodegradable
Once these actions have been successfully implemented, companies can then consider addressing system-level changes that require in-depth value-chain collaboration.
The Snowkap Marketplace makes sustainable sourcing easy. From tree-free tissues paper, bagasse bowls, leak proof paper cups, molded fibre cutlery- we’ve got it all. Not only are all the suppliers certified, each product comes with its carbon footprint, making it easy to measure the footprint of every transaction.
5. Communicate your Impact
Ensure clear communication around sustainability narratives for both your product and packaging. Multiple surveys have shown that when given a choice, consumers are willing to choose the more sustainable product if they knew what they were buying. Ensuring that the packaging communicates your impact in the relevant sustainability narratives is critical to your business growth.
On Snowkap, you can measure your plastic/carbon footprint real time, and share your victories with your consumers, investors and other stakeholders easily through a QR code.
Sustainability is no longer the exception but is slowly becoming the norm. Brands need to adapt now to become a leader in their industry. Viewing sustainability issues as a key factor in strategic planning will enable QSR companies to determine how sustainability can be used as a differentiator to attract consumer interest and drive growth.