What is Greenwashing?

Let us unpack the industry terms for good

With the recent implementation of the amended Regulations pertaining to Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), under the National Environmental Management: Waste Act, 2008, industry jargon is splashed all over the media. Terms such as biodegradability, compostable packaging, renewable content and bioplastics is the talk of the town, but what does this really mean? We want to encourage consumers and value chain members to trust, but verify!

Packaging: the benefit, the design, the impact

Packaging plays a fundamental role in the value-chain of products, by providing essential features such as protection against contamination, safe and convenient handling, transport and key product information. It preserves products, thereby reducing waste, ensuring that it reaches its end user fit for its intended purpose. The benefit of preventing food waste is often higher than the environmental impact of the packaging involved.

80% of the environmental impact of a packaging item is determined during the design phase. The Mpact design centre can expertly design packaging that optimises the environmental benefit, performance and product-material ratio and fully comply to sustainable design principles.

There is no simple answer as to which packaging medium is the best for the environment. Truly sustainable packaging decisions are more complex than simply replacing one material with another. As an example, some materials may enjoy a smaller carbon footprint but require more water or heat to convert, thereby affecting the cradle-to-cradle environmental impact. Being lightweight, durable and flexible, the unique nature of plastics means that it naturally reduces a variety of environmental impacts across resources such as energy, water and greenhouse emissions, compared to its alternatives.

Terminology: using the same lingo

Being vague about industry terms will only solve half of the challenges that we as stakeholders face! Greenwashing is the act of misleading consumers regarding environmental practices or environmental benefits pertaining to a packaging item or a company’s, product or service.

Clarity and education regarding industry terminology is the fuel that will not only drive us forward but also draw our efforts together! Next month we delve into the seven sins of greenwashing!