The agency, which is funded by the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), claims that there has never been a better time for businesses to switch to greener packaging to improve their environmental credentials and cut costs.
Indeed, a survey released last week at the Anuga FoodTec in Cologne, revealed that nearly 60 per cent of consumers pay attention to the eco-friendliness of food and drink packaging material during their grocery shopping.
Envirowise eco-design specialist, Jenni Rosser, told FoodProductionDaily.com that the new Pack-In tool was informed by a consultation project it carried out with Mars Chocolate who sought an easy-to-use method of comparing the sustainability of several packaging design options the manufacturer had developed with its design agency.
“We also collaborated with the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) and the Industry Council for Packaging and the Environment (Incpen) to ensure our approach was informed by key sustainability drivers,” continued Rosser.
She said the Pack-In tool offers a way of thinking about design which takes into account the environmental impact of a product or packaging across its entire existence, including raw materials, manufacture, retail, use and end of life.
Rosser explained that the online tool requires the user to enter information such as the types and amounts of materials used or intended to be used in the product packaging; information on where the materials come from and how they are transported to a company’s production facility and data on the volume of the product and packaging.
“We recognised when we started this project that they were life cycle analysis (LCA) and carbon footprint tools available but these were extremely time and labour intensive regarding input and results.
“However, the Pack-In tool provides companies with a quick and easy system for collating information about the environmental impact of their packaging that they can use to inform discussions with their design agencies in pre-design phase or where quick amendments are required to enhance a pack’s sustainability,” said Rosser.
The new packaging tool went through a rigorous testing phase with a wide range of companies, she added, and received over 5,000 hits post launch at the end of last month.
Dick Searle, chief executive of the Packaging Federation, told this publication that Pack-In was a valuable tool to the extent that it could help towards filling the gap in packaging knowledge that exists in many companies today, and the fact that it also demystifies the packaging design process.
The Pack-In eco design tool can be accessed here.