Sustainable Packaging can help protect the planet, benefit your community, and ensure a bright future for future generations. This article explores which of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) relate to sustainable packaging, and why it is important for your business. 

What are SDGs?

SDGs, or Sustainable Development Goals, are global objectives set by the United Nations which cover a wide range of potential areas in need of attention. These goals aim to address global issues such as poverty and inequality with the objective of creating a more balanced and sustainable world, promoting economic growth and social inclusion. Since the launch of these international commitments in 2015, there have been 17 SDGs approved, each divided into specific targets that countries strive to meet.

What SDGs are relevant to Sustainable Packaging?

SDG Goal 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities-Product - 教育資源網 |  聯合國兒童基金香港委員會 UNICEF HK Education Web Portal

Goal 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities

Collaboration with community and industry partners to improve the circular economy of waste with sustainable packaging solutions. 

SDG Goal 12: Responsible Consumption and Production-Product - 教育資源網 |  聯合國兒童基金香港委員會 UNICEF HK Education Web Portal

Goal 12: Responsible Consumption and Production

This goal covers a wide spectrum of global issues that extend far beyond simply conserving resources. From the creation, using materials with low impact on the environment that are home-compostable and recyclable, to minimizing emissions due to shipping or even reducing food waste; companies are now beginning to recognize the value in using environmentally friendly packaging which has greatly improved thanks to pioneering work being done within the sustainability industry today. 

SDG Goal 14: Life Below Water-Product - 教育資源網 | 聯合國兒童基金香港委員會 UNICEF HK  Education Web Portal

Goal 14: Life Below Water

According to World Economic Forum New Plastics Economy report, 40 percent of the plastic used worldwide is still disposed of in landfill. Approximately 10–20 million tons of plastic a year end up in the oceans with all the negative impacts on marine biodiversity that it can cause.

Sustainable packagings made from bagasse and paper products, depending on conditions, will almost always degrade within a year in the ocean. As we suspected, the experiment demonstrated the possibility that plant-based (PLA) plastic products have similar effects as fossil-based plastic packaging in the aquatic environment. Read more on ocean-degradation here. 

SDG Goal 15: Life On Land-Product - 教育資源網 | 聯合國兒童基金香港委員會 UNICEF HK  Education Web Portal

Goal 15: Life on Land 

FSC paper packaging contributes to goal 15 of life on land by providing a system for responsible management of forests worldwide for this and future generations. FSC aims to combat biodiversity loss through a balanced extraction of forest products. The FSC certification system ensures the protection of valuable natural forest areas and species, fights illegal logging, and supports implementing integrated landscape management policies - including reforestation and forest restoration programs.

Sustainable packaging is critical to achieving several of the SDGs

Achieving several of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) begins with the use of sustainable packaging for consumer goods. Sustainable packaging is any packaging that reduces negative environmental impacts, including those made from home-compostable, FSC certified, or recycled and recyclable materials, among others. These packages are usually designed to reduce plastic consumption and promote a zero-waste lifestyle, helping in the reduction of emissions from production processes.

By using sustainable materials that are compostable or recyclable at their end-of-life instead of non-renewable resources like plastic, companies can make significant strides towards more environmental business practices.

Furthermore, both governments and consumers have increased awareness when it comes to taking responsibility for their own waste stream through mindful selection of items that are either recycled or composted by household waste collection services rather than sent to landfills. Companies should take into account consideration new regulations such as the incoming Regulation of Disposable Plastic Tableware as they choose what type of packaging they can use. 

Why are SDGS important for businesses?

The SDGs represent a global framework for issues such as poverty, health, sustainability, climate change and much more. Businesses around the world are adopting the SDGs as a way to measure their progress on environmental and social sustainability initiatives.

In particular, the food and beverage industry has adopted the SDGs as part of their focus on sustainable packaging - specifically with takeaway food packaging in restaurants and cafes, as well as hotels. With increased scrutiny of single-use plastic items like straws, cutlery , takeaway containers and bags, consumers are demanding more sustainable alternatives. Sustainable packagings made from home-compostable materials are increasingly important in helping businesses reach their goals and reduce their environmental impact.

Beyond this there is also a role for businesses in helping meet SDG goals through responsible sourcing, waste reduction strategies and product lifecycle management strategies. Businesses can also use their platform to advocate or engage in wider global commitment towards achieving SDG Goals by providing insight into how they have been implementing green initiatives into their own operations. This allows companies to set an example for consumers, other companies, providers, employees etc and positions them as thought leaders within this space both from an environmental, economic & social perspective.

In summary, utilizing SDGs drives innovation within businesses that enable them to transition towards a goal of achieving greener socio-economic outcomes. By effectively implementing strategies that align with specific objectives within the various goals, businesses can create opportunities for themselves whilst actively helping reduce the waste impact on our planet Earth.