Canadian Packaging

Consumer Goods Forum releases global measurement system for packaging sustainability

System will enable consumer goods industry to better reduce environmental impact.


The Consumer Goods Forum has announced the release of the Global Protocol on Packaging Sustainability (GPPS) that will allow the consumer goods industry to better assess the relative sustainability of packaging.

The aim of the protocol is to help companies reduce the environmental impact of their packaging by providing a common language to address a range of business questions about packaging sustainability either within a company or between business partners. That common language consists of a framework and a measurement system. The framework entitled A Global Language for Packaging Sustainability was first published in June 2010. The metrics presented in the protocol published on September 6, 2011 deliver the measurement system.

The GPPS is part of the sustainability work stream at the Consumer Goods Forum, which is sponsored by two of the organization’s board members: Philip Clarke, chief executive officer at Tesco and Paul Polman, chief executive officer of Unilever.

The protocol was designed collectively by a diverse group of retailers and manufacturers aided by packaging material suppliers and packaging manufacturers and led by a steering team that included representatives from retailers Walmart, Target and Tesco, and manufacturers Kraft Foods, Procter & Gamble, Nestlé and Unilever. It is based on earlier packaging sustainability guidelines developed by the European Organization for Packaging and the Environment (EUROPEN) with ECR Europe and similar work on metrics for packaging developed by GreenBlue’s Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC) in the United States.

Says Clarke: “Tesco is a responsible retailer and understands that packaging is important to its customers. We’re working hard with our suppliers to minimize the impact of our packaging on the environment. Having a common language will allow us to have the right conversations with our diverse supply chain. We can then work with suppliers to reduce the environmental impact of packaging whilst making sure it still does the essential job it needs to do to protect the products we sell.”

Adds Polman: “One of the strengths of this project is how it has brought together so many companies and organizations from across our industry to work collectively on developing this common language. Now we need to put the language to work. We are already doing so in Unilever and we are seeing the benefit.”

Steering Team co-chair Roger Zellner of Kraft Foods said: “Our global collaboration has been a unique achievement, and now many diverse players have a common language and measurement tools for decision making.”

Use of the protocol is free of charge from the project website at www.globalpackaging.mycgforum.com.