‘Brands must make packaging an asset’

Brands need to invest more in packaging or consumers will continue to see it as waste to be thrown away, according to a leading environmentalist.


Speaking at an event to launch a UK branch of the Institute of Packaging Professionals earlier this week, Tom Heap, an environmental specialist and reporter, advised brand owners to be more positive about the role of packaging because its presence is unlikely to diminish in the future, despite efforts to reduce packaging.

He adds that consumers remain hypocritical about packaging, claming that they don’t like it, but view lots of packaging as a sign of desirability.

The amount of packaging is set to increase 40% by 2050, Heap says, so brands should instead come up with ways to offer consumers value so that it can be used again. One way is to re-introduce the concept of deposits for packaging such as glass bottles that can be returned to the manufacturer for cash rewards.

He suggests that “smart brands” should also be doing more to tell consumers about how their packaging works to reduce food waste in the transportation of food.

Brands should also be more explicit in the way they communicate recycling and the way specific packaging materials can be recycled so that consumers have a more tangible understanding of why they should recycle it.

He says: “There’s an opportunity there because we’re not going to see less packaging. Brands should differentiate between the different futures product packaging has and be more bold about it and take ownership.”

Heap cast doubt over packaging specialists that claim their main priority is sustainability.

“I don’t believe for second that the priority is sustainability – and it shouldn’t be. The priority should be selling and protecting products, with a mind to making it as sustainable as possible,” he says.

Read our latest PR Strategy feature ‘Anatomy of a crisis’ about the DMA’s response to Heap’s Panorama investigation into junk mail.

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