A new program that will give insights into plastic packaging waste across the supply chain and will ultimately help companies better manage and reduce waste is being developed by The Owl Solutions.
The project includes participation from commercial partners from the consumer packaged goods, retail and pharmaceutical sectors, among other industries. The supply chain analytics provider has also received seed funding from Sustainable Development Technology Canada.
The Owl is building out a new packaging module within its supply chain analytics platform that will help companies accurately track and measure plastic packaging waste throughout their operations. That in turn can help organizations find ways to reduce or reuse the waste.
The Owl says 29,000 metric tons of plastic are discarded each year and it is difficult for manufacturers to measure and reduce the waste in support of their sustainability targets. The company says using the platform can also help reduce packaging costs, reduce reporting times and improve accuracy of ESG reporting.
“In the context of supply chains, it is difficult to make informed decisions without clear data as most of the environmental impact occurs upstream during plastic production and downstream during disposal,” says The Owl CEO Hugo Fuentes. This means companies aren’t able to quantify that impact.
The EPA estimates plastic and packaging waste makes up about 30% of total waste in the United States each year, with 9% of that being recycled. The EPA says of all material specific waste, containers and packaging had the most plastic waste at more than 14.5 million tons in 2018.
In 2015 emissions from the incineration of plastic packaging were the equivalent of nearly 16 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions, according to Science Direct.
Reducing waste and making plastic packaging more sustainable has become a priority across a variety of industries, from food suppliers, restaurants, personal care products and retailers. The United Nations has vowed to eliminate plastic waste completely and is working on a legally binding agreement by 2024.
The Owl’s project is expected to take six months to a year to complete, and the company expects to offer the packaging system in the first quarter of 2023.