In an article published on January 29, 2015 by The Guardian, journalist Marc Gunther reports on a new study dealing with packaging practices of three sectors: quick service restaurants (“fast food”), beverages, and consumer goods/grocery in the U.S.. The study entitled “Waste and Opportunity 2015” is a joint effort of two non-profit organizations, namely, As You Sow and the Natural Resources Defense Council. The study report shows that through poor packaging sustainability policies large brands waste valuable materials worth around $11.4 billion each year. Only few companies have robust sustainable packaging policies or system-wide programs to recycle packages. Overall, not a single company surveyed earned the “best practices” status, as all are failing to adequately recover valuable materials and thus protect the world’s oceans. Further, the report highlights that with an overall recycling rate of 34.5% and an estimated packaging recycling rate of 51%, the U.S. falls behind many developed countries. Less than 14% of plastic packaging, considered as a major contributor to marine pollution, is recycled. The report suggests that some companies might even be moving backwards by increasingly using flexible plastic pouch packaging that cannot be readily recycled. Even though, as a response to concerns about the recyclability of pouches, there have already been some efforts from the beverage industry to use more easily recyclable aseptic containers, noted Conrad MacKerron, a senior vice president of As You Sow.
Marc Gunther (January 29, 2015). “What a waste: study finds big US brands stuck on disposable packaging.” The Guardian
“Waste and Opportunity 2015” report