No black and white answers
However, assessing the environmental impact of different packaging materials is no simple black-and-white matter. “There are many aspects that determine whether a material is sustainable”, explains Helena Gheysen. “Everybody immediately thinks in terms of CO2 emissions, but there are many other factors to consider. At Greenyard, we consider several aspects of the entire life cycle: from the extraction of raw materials to the recyclability at the end of the life cycle. Additionally, we also ensure that the packaging fits with the high quality standards for our products as well as customer expectations.”
To conduct a Life Cycle Assessment of four different packaging types – all of them mono-material and fully recyclable and including polyethylene, bio-based plastics, cardboard and paper – Greenyard Frozen engaged with a specialised partner. Both plastic packaging solutions came out as the best choice with bio-based plastics slightly better, but also more expensive.
Packaging has become an increasingly important and sometimes even controversial topic among consumers. Retailers have been quick to respond and have worked hard in the last few years to reduce the amount of packaging they use and even abandoning certain materials entirely. - Nigel Terry
Making the right packaging decisions is no easy matter, as many elements determine whether a packaging is sustainable. Our Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) enables us to take each of these elements into account and provide our customers with objective data. - Helena Gheysen
“For our organic range products, we decided to evolve towards bio-based plastic packaging, in line with the positioning of this product range. Compared to cardboard packaging, less material is needed to adequately protect the product. This means that we can transport more products per box, while also reducing emissions during transport. Production processes of paper and cardboard are also more water-intensive”, says Helena Gheysen.
“It shows this is not a black and white story and sometimes plastics really are the better choice, for the product and for nature. Of course, the life cycle of packaging does not end in-store. Consumers also play an important role: they have to sort their packaging post-consumption to successfully close the cycle. We do not only want our packaging to be recyclable in theory, but also in practice.”
Helping customers make the right decision
“The Life Cycle Assessment has given us valuable insight into the impact of our packaging. It also allows us to advise customers in this complicated matter, as the final choice lies with them. The data from our Life Cycle Assessment helps them make that decision, based on actual facts, and not just perception”, concludes Helena Gheysen.