Diageo Sets Sustainable Packaging Guidelines

by | Dec 9, 2011

Diageo has published its first sustainable packaging guidelines, setting 2015 goals to reduce average weight by 10 percent, increase recycled material content by 20 percent and ensure 100 percent of packaging is reusable, recyclable or “suitable for waste management practices.”

The drinks company says it has established a sustainable packaging framework, implementation plan and targets to deliver the smallest possible environmental footprint, where practical. It has commissioned and created a sustainable packaging life cycle assessment tool, SPOT (Sustainable Packaging Optimisation Tool), to rapidly assess the environmental impact of new and existing pack designs. This tool will provide data early in the product development cycle, Diageo says.

The majority of Diageo’s global beverage volume is delivered in primary packaging made from glass, aluminum and steel, which are all recyclable. Glass accounts for over 90 percent of its packaging material.

The company says it will continue to promote low-carbon packaging options such as refillable bottles (which it uses more heavily in Africa) and will actively pursue and implement biodegradable or lower environmental impact options for hard-to-recycle components such as closures and outer cartons. It will also explore ways to simplify the number and combination of materials it uses.

The company says that its new Smirnoff Ice bottle design in Brazil has eliminated 2500 metric tons of glass, and in a typical year the company will aim to eliminate a further 14,000 metric tons.

But the company says, while lightweighting is often the right thing to do, “we prefer to consider ‘rightweighting.’” It says it will take care to ensure that lightweighting efforts don’t lead to an increased number of breakages in transportation – and may even consider “heavyweighting” if it will give packaging a second life.

Diageo says that on average more than one-third of the glass in its bottles, up to 70 percent of board in outer cases, and up to 50 percent of its aluminum cans come from recycled material. It is aiming to use more recycled and sustainable sourced virgin materials through collaboration with suppliers and advances in technologies.

In announcing the guidelines, Diageo chief marketing officer Andy Fennell said that customers and consumers are increasingly demanding more sustainable packaging from leading consumer goods companies. For example, Wal-Mart has established a packaging scorecard which it uses to evaluate suppliers.

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