Thinking Through Sustainable Packaging

Thinking Through Sustainable Packaging

I like this story about The Absolut Company and its efforts to make two of its packages more sustainable. Their Kahlua and Malibu bottles were made from coloured PET plastic, which Absolut acknowledges is technically recyclable but practically isn’t. So, first, kudos to them for not sticking with ‘technically recyclable’ and being willing to work on better packaging.

Clear PET is recyclable, and more companies are getting that message, e.g., Coke switched out its green bottles to clear ones last year. Absolut changed its Kahlua from amber to clear PET without any issues, but the Malibu rum bottle needed to be white. The company tested a white sleeve on top of the clear PET and consulted with recycling organizations to ensure the sleeve didn’t affect recyclability.

I feel like I need to repeat that: the company TALKED TO RECYCLERS and, with testing and tweaking, found an option that both worked for their brand and was recyclable. This is what we're after, folks. If companies are serious about circular packaging, then discussions with recyclng organizations and testing are a must. Find out what works for them and for you. With a little flexibility and willingness to experiment (and fail, and try something else), you could find a solution that works for both your brand and for the future lives of your packages.

Back to Absolt, the Malibu new sleeve resulted in five percent more virgin PET being used, so they increased the recycled content of their packaging by five percent to compensate.

This level of attention paid to packaging sustainability and transparency (oops: pun) should be celebrated. Rum, anyone?