2020 saw the launch of our 2030 Strategy and the start of our transformation journey. As part of this, we have focused on developing a purpose that speaks to our legacy, reflects the changing world we live in and focuses on the difference we make, globally. Because we at Huhtamaki can make a difference that matters. Whatever we do at work should feel meaningful. To us, and to all our stakeholders.
We believe in protecting food, people and the planet.
We believe in protecting food, people and the planet. We know that packaging creates value by securing hygiene, food availability and food safety for consumers around the globe. It also plays an instrumental role in reducing food waste, which remains by far the biggest environmental impact from food systems on climate change. Thanks to today’s digital breakthroughs, packaging also offers solutions including product traceability and efficient circularity. Today, our customers, consumers, communities and the planet need our sustainable packaging solutions more than ever before.
We believe that to become the First Choice in Sustainable Packaging Solutions we need to act as a responsible and proactive leader. That comprises standing up for what we believe in, having the courage of our convictions, driving evidence-based discussions, tackling difficult perceptions proactively, as well as working with others to find sustainable solutions. We recognize that no one organization has all the answers. To drive progress, we need to work together and engage stakeholders across the value chain — partnering is key to making packaging sustainable. We all need to cooperate — Huhtamaki, industry, regulators, communities and consumers — to promote and create a better, smarter, pragmatic and sustainable solutions.
We launched Think Circle as a platform to openly address the issues in designing for circularity and move towards finding solutions together with other key stakeholders. By reflecting differing viewpoints from a range of contributors — such as leaders from academia, business, NGOs and other key institutions — our objective was to move the circularity dialogue forward and contribute to a collective understanding to help drive systemic change.
Packaging – a progress paradox
On the one hand, the notion of sustainability is influenced by consumer perceptions around the impact of climate change, and the responsibility industry carries for this. In addition, litter is a problem, leading to the belief that the answer is a world without packaging. There too is the view that viable alternatives to plastics exist today. There is truth in some of these perceptions as well as many misconceptions. Sustainability is complex. It is still being defined and our work at Huhtamaki has only just begun. One challenge in trying to develop sustainable packaging solutions, is that decisions that might seem progressive can have unintended consequences and end up hurting the initial objective.
Today sustainability is being shaped by an evolving regulatory agenda. Legislation is emerging across all geographies, spearheaded by EU Green economy ambitions such as the SUPD (Single Use Plastic Directive) and CEAP (Circular Economy Action Plan) but equally apparent across the globe. There is a noticeable desire to limit packaging along with a significant focus on plastic substitution. The objective to improve our use of resources and cut our carbon footprint is right, but it comes with unintended consequences.
For example, food waste is a major problem. About one third of global food production is lost or wasted, meaning approximately 8% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are linked to food waste. As roughly 5% of GHG emissions in food systems are attributable to packaging, packaging accounts for only approximately 1 percent of total global GHG emissions. Since packaging can extend the shelf life of food, it can contribute to food waste reduction.
This is the progress paradox we are facing within packaging. Should we have more packaging driven by consumer need or less packaging as driven by the regulatory agenda?
For us, the debate shouldn’t be about more or less. It should be about smarter, better and more sustainable packaging solutions.
We believe unwaveringly that the value of packaging is more than its impact on the planet. We believe food packaging can help protect our climate.
If more people – from policymakers to activists and consumers – saw this potential like we do, it would increase the focus on developing a more systemic life cycle-focused approach to the restrictions and expectations society sets for food packaging. Moreover, it would help prevent blanket ban policies where no viable alternatives exist, or which have unintended consequences and do not take into consideration the end-to-end life cycle.
To shift mindsets, we not only need to make our case, but also to take a stand which is closely aligned to our purpose.
This is why we are now launching our We Believe campaign. Through it, we aim to open people’s minds to the connection between food packaging and the greater societal and environmental issues we are all dealing with. We want to challenge misconceptions, and with the help of facts demonstrate that the value of packaging can be more that its impact on the planet. We want to speak to the role we can play in ensuring that we deliver this value.