US food, drink and consumer product manufacturers increased their use of recycled plastic inputs by 49 per cent from 2005 to 2010, in addition to reducing packaging weight, claims a new report from the Grocery Manufacturers Association
And the brand owners involved said that they expect to have eliminated four billion pounds (1,814,369,480 kilograms) of packaging waste nationwide between 2005 and 2020, according to two surveys conducted for the GMA.
Blind surveys with industry were undertaken in 2010 to 2011 by McKinsey & Company and Georgetown Economic Services (GES).
One questionnaire sought information related to packaging developments during the period 2005-2010, the other looked at ambitions on packaging initiatives for 2011-2020.
Responding firms reported that they achieved the 2005-2010 reductions through more than 180 distinct improvement initiatives, including packaging redesigns and increased use of recyclable materials.
The report notes the introduction of a thinner plastic bottle by one leading drinks maker that it said led to the elimination of 2.45 billion pounds of packaging between 1999 and 2009.
It further highlighted the switch from a sauce manufacturer to 100 per cent post-consumer material for its glass bottles and the same company's use of a bioplastic based bottle.
“In eliminating this packaging from the supply chain, we are reducing a significant volume of waste that would otherwise end up in landfills, but the benefits go far beyond that.
Companies are reporting that packaging improvements are also enabling them to ship more units per truckload, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and conserve resources such as water and energy,” GMA senior director of energy and environmental policy John Shanahan said.
Packaging improvements spanned most product categories, with no single category dominating, said the US industry body's publication.
The GMA report can be read here.