Bridging the green gap between the FMCG industry and packaging

A super brand like Hindustan Unilever (HUL) delivers products of value, innovation, quality and reliability. During his talk about leadership, Sudhir Sitapati said, the FMCG brands and packaging converters should develop a partnership to look into sustainability, recycling and packaging waste.

31 Jul 2021 | By Noel D'Cunha

Sitapati: Sustainability is going to transform packaging

Sudhir Sitapati spoke to BMPA delegates about Lessons from HUL based on his market experience. The session (moderated by BMPA"s Faheem Agboatwala) highlighted "how to nurture leaders within your organisation".

During the Q&A session, Sitapati, who is also the author of The CEO Factory: Management Lessons from Hindustan Unilever, was asked a question about the "green gap" between the super brands and what consumers and civil society feel about sustainability and packaging waste.

Sitapati said, "Packaging is a big part of eCommerce as well as FMCG. I feel sustainability is going to transform packaging. The reason is, sustainability is going to transform the way plastics will be used – as little plastics as possible. This will facilitate recyclability.”

He added that sustainability is going to impact our planet. “They say in India people don’t care about sustainability, but I have seen people getting agitated over garbage-burning. Members of civil society feel the toxic fumes, which are unhealthy."

He added, "Today there are companies that are producing non-starch based recyclable garbage bags. In addition, there is a lot of interesting work on making the outer packaging in eCommerce, lighter and biodegradable.”

Later, while concluding the hour-long session, Sitapati stated that high-performance packaging plays a critical role, but it must be done so sustainably. Two points, Sitapati stressed were: Maximising the use of renewable materials, and sourcing them responsibly in a way that protects biodiversity, and driving an industry agenda to develop sustainable recycling value chains

The main aim being: create cartons that are fully made from renewable or recycled materials that are fully recyclable and carbon neutral. 

Sitapati mentioned that FMCG brands will be very keen to work with packaging converters, collaboratively.  BMPA's Faheem Agboatwala endorsed the idea and said the Association will create an action group soon.

Do read the WhatPackaging? magazine review of The CEO Factory: Management Lessons from Hindustan Unilever.

The WhatPackaging? view
There is talk of reusing a product's plastic packaging and thus materials plastics for as long as possible. This will reduce the need for virgin materials and reduce the environmental footprint.

Some brands in Europe have started using a single-use packaging tracker. This makes it easy to track where your packaging ends up after disposal. Just scan the SUP anywhere along the supply chain to trigger traceability, allowing a better chance for recovery.

P&G worked to hit a number of sustainability goals over the past decade. The targets for 2020 were: including eliminating manufacturing waste in landfills globally, cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 50%, reducing water usage per production unit by 27% and doubling the use of recycled resin in plastic packaging.

This is a wonderful pledge.

The problem is, the consumer goods giants fall short on packaging waste pledges. Will things change?