|Environmental sustainability continues to increase its importance as a driver for business and consumer decision-making. This year Google search interest for “sustainability” reached record highs (so did “how to conserve” and “impact of climate change”). Investment money flows into environmental, social and governance (ESG) assets now account for one-third of total global assets under management, and corporate leaders are being held to new standards when it comes to sustainability performance. In addition, shifting consumer expectations, attitudes, and new government policy actions are forcing brands to prioritize sustainability in their business practices.
Despite these pressures to change, signs indicate that meaningful transformation in how products are packaged lag stated commitments and associated rhetoric on sustainability. Recently the research firm Gartner reported that “approximately 90% of public sustainability claims will not be met by 2025, adding that companies remain reliant on fossil-based plastics and single-use packaging.” Also, in a snapshot of major corporate activity, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s The Global Commitment 2021 Progress Report noted that “in general, there is a concerning lack of ambition and action on reuse,” with just 1.6% of brand and retail signatories’ packaging has been designed to be reusable.”
Although generally disappointing, the good news is we can see a tremendous upside in markets and business opportunities for reusable packaging, particularly in business-to-consumer reuse and refill applications. The macro forces are calling louder for reuse, and the growing body of evidence favors reuse – for both environmental and economic sustainability. At some point the market will catch on and accelerate.
This is where RPA steps in and stands out. RPA is the world leader in promoting reusable packaging for supply chains and providing resources to support the implementation and optimization of reuse systems. With two decades of experience, RPA is more valuable today than ever before, and needed now more than ever.
In 2021, RPA membership grew to 62 dues-paying members, up 10% from last year, and new members are already joining RPA for 2022. Together, we had some noteworthy impacts and achievements to raise awareness on opportunities with reusable packaging, including:
· CalRecycle’s new $2 million Reuse Grant Program, which RPA advocated directly to the agency starting in 2018.
· Inner Loop blogs promoting reuse on topics involving supply chain disruption, dunnage, sanitation, automation, extended producer responsibility laws, IoT-enabled products, and use of recovered ocean plastic.
· Reuse on Replay podcast as a tool to promote industry topics and member companies.
· Return of the Reusable Packaging Pavilion at PACK EXPO Las Vegas.
· Recognition and case study promotion of two unique Excellence Award winners.
· Project start on treatment of reusable packaging in ESG standards and guidance to members on ESG assessment and reporting.
· Activator in the U.S. Plastics Pact and co-lead on Reuse Pilots & Innovations workstream to advance market adoption of reusable packaging models.
Thank you for your membership support, contributions, and participation in the association as we collectively promote our industry, address common issues, and stimulate market demand for our products and services. Cheers to a productive start to 2022 and an exciting year ahead for RPA and the reusable packaging industry.
Chairman of the Board