There is an increasing awareness around the term ‘waste’ highlighted as a key Daymon TrendwheelTM ‘One World’ trend as consumers relate to the impact they have on the world around them. If zero waste is the goal it is critical as a collective obligation, for communities from industry players to governments and consumers to understand where and how to act to manage waste and reduce the effect on the environment and the health of humans.
Global View | B-Well, One World & Lifestyle Choices
When one thinks of waste it is primarily thought of as plastic waste and food waste due to overconsumption, however fundamentally all stages of the product’s lifecycle must be considered. From the initial material recovery stage where resources are used efficiently, to the end game where product disposability looks at new ways to repurpose items either through recycling or offering compostable and biodegradable options. Where new ways of manufacturing, packaging and consumer usage are considered, each having different implications for waste management.
In the world of FMCG waste can be viewed as packaging or ingredient related waste. Initiatives are often articulated around these two components in an effort to reduce waste such as recyclable or reusable plastic, paper, metal, and glass or by using less ingredients such as water, energy, zero bio-waste, promoting local production, and developing sustainable habits. Circularity in the FMCG sector therefore holds much potential having a direct effect on both packaging and ingredients to ensure that all parts of the supply chain are reused or upcycled before being turned into waste. It is a great way for retailers and brands to reduce costs, to be more efficient, promote local production and provide more sustainable options to consumers. Approximately 1.3 billion tonnes, a third of the food produced in the world every year, is wasted.
In 2018 packaging waste generated an estimated 174kgs per inhabitant in the EU, with plastic bottles alone requiring some 450 years to decompose. These global stats highlight the need to act and advocate for change when it comes to waste - a need that consumers are acknowledging with 52% of US consumers saying they choose to live an eco-friendly lifestyle to preserve the earth and the environment for future generations; 25% of French adults would like to try juices made from ingredients that would have gone to waste and 55% of global consumers stating that their most common sustainable behaviour is to partner with companies that allow packaging to be returned so that it can be recycled.
Further stats indicate that 80% of global millennials and Gen Z believe that governments and businesses need to make greater efforts to protect the environment while 38% of global consumers think that they should be making greener choices. To move forward with the goal of a wasteless world, initiatives that allow for effective change should be viewed as a shared responsibility where brands, retailers and consumers work together to interact, educate, and create awareness in the journey of waste management.
Pioneering examples include Carrefour introducing a “Zero Plastic Mission” platform to get suggestions from consumers on ways to reduce the use of plastics in their stores. While Walker’s crisps in the UK use potato peels and CO2 waste from its supply chain to produce a low-carbon fertilizer for farmers. Mattel and Lego have stepped up, using recycled plastic for toys and Sainsbury’s have Ecover stations for dishwashing and laundry detergent refills to reduce plastic and carbon emissions related to packaging.
Regional View | Middle East & Africa
In the UAE 13 billion plastic bags are used by residents annually with the average person wasting 197kgs of food annually at a total cost to the country of $3.5 billion. In a GlobalData Survey , 36% of Middle Eastern consumers believe that having an environmental-friendly packing material becomes an influential factor when considering what products to purchase.
Notable examples of manufacturers and retailers who are pioneering change that is becoming the norm rather than the exception include Bon App, who in an effort to tackle food waste allow food providers such as hotels, restaurants, and grocery stores, to post deals on their app of food they want to push before it expires. Customers download the app for free with items offered at reduced prices and in so doing they help contribute to reducing wastage. National Food Products Company in the UAE launched Oasis drinking water in sustainable Tetra Pak cartons, the first water brand in the region to do so. While Circa Biotech, a UAE start-up developed a sustainable method of upcycling food waste into animal feed and fertilizer using black soldier flies. Partnering with retailer Carrefour, the food waste is collected from their central warehouse, sent to Circa Biotech, fed to the flies, and harvested after 10 days with the protein meal sold to animal manufacturers.
Brands, retailers, and consumers are all inter-connected in the war on waste with Private Brand having a key role to play. As collective steps are taken to optimise the process of waste management, we are reminded that products cannot be at the expense of price as affordability is an important factor for global consumers, with 50% saying they want brands to offer well priced options that are better for people and the planet.
Taking a New Approach to Packaging
To ease the recycling process and create reusable alternatives, packaging needs to be reviewed from the materials used to partnering with consumers to gain their support for their role and how this can impact and aid the process of circularity.
Opportunities to Reduce Waste
Conduct a formal assessment of current business needs that takes into consideration each stage of the product lifecycle - from recovery of material to the disposability thereof as opportunities are identified from ingredients to packaging to reduce waste.
An assessment of the current waste usage needs to be undertaken to understand the potential upcycling opportunities as well as identifying partners to work with as waste becomes a business opportunity.
Private Brand Game Changer
Private Brand needs to be viewed in a strategic role of game changer to act on waste management and partner consumers on their conscious journey.