First 'Anti-Greenwash' Packaging Guidelines Released

To begin to develop parameters for sustainability claims, Greener Package released the packaging industry’s first comprehensive guidelines to packaging sustainability claims.

Developed by Greener Package, Environmental Packaging Intl. (EPI) and Packaging Knowledge Group LLC (PKG), the Greener Package Guidelines to Sustainability Claims will be used to review claims made by suppliers submitting their product data to the Greener Product Database, in conjunction with WalMart’s Packaging Scorecard initiative.

“Consumer demand for sustainably produced products is a key driver in promoting progress at the manufacturing level,” said Victor Bell, EPI’s CEO, “Third-party validation is critical in combating greenwashing, which—if left unchecked—could erode consumer confidence and ultimately the public’s interest in buying sustainable products and packaging.”

The database offers companies that manufacture packaged goods a means to research and compare sustainable packaging materials, containers and suppliers. The data will also feed Walmart’s Packaging Scorecard system.

Submitting a company or material to the database utilizes a “middle ground” developed by Greener Package, where companies submit to a voluntary, third-party review.

“In effect, the reviewer serves as a neutral third party making a good-faith effort to review backup documentation from suppliers to compare to a common guideline in order to save the users of the database time from having to do the same for each listing each time they search,” according to Greener Package.

The cost for each review ranges from $110 to $330, depending on whether the supplier is being reviewed for the first time.

Larry Dull, PKG partner, added, “The cost for a company to verify their sustainability claims is relatively small, compared to the investment that same company makes to develop, produce, and package more sustainable products. We see verification as a necessary, final step in the process and a point of differentiation for any company selling in a competitive marketplace.”

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  3. This article covers an important issue as we move closer to a sustainable future. This kind of greenwashing is not at all new. Not long after the Forestry Stewardship Council became a successful timber certification body, the timber industry created the Sustainable Forestry Initiative which used less stringent certification guidelines. The important things here are transparency within the green certifying bodies, and also writers like this one, who are willing to look beyond the labels.

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