Gartner: Firms Eye Lower Carbon Packaging
January 23, 2023
Confronted with the Challenge of Achieving Ambitious
Sustainability Goals, Enterprises will be Forced to Reframe their
most public commitments to sustainable packaging at risk of going
unfulfilled, 20% of organizations will shift their focus from
recycling and eliminating plastics to reducing the carbon footprint
of their packaging by 2026, according to Gartner, Inc.
While the pivot in focus leaves organizations with unmet pledges
vulnerable to greenwashing backlash, early movers that successfully
educate stakeholders, customers and investors to the benefits of
life cycle assessment (LCA) as an alternative sustainability metric
will be better prepared to address and defend their contributions to
reducing greenhouse gas emissions and climate change.
“The packaging ecosystem has not advanced at the pace that
organizations setting targets back in 2017 and 2018 had hoped for,”
said John Blake, senior director analyst with the Gartner Supply
Chain practice. “Organizations face operational and financial
challenges that were discovered only through the attempt to deliver
their goals, but meaningful progress on sustainability can still be
made with more realistic frameworks in place.”
The most popular commitments to sustainable packaging have centered
on 100% of packaging being reusable, recyclable or compostable by
2025. However, Gartner previously predicted that 90% of companies
with such commitments would see their objectives unmet. Additional
non-governmental organization estimates confirm that future
scenarios focused on mainstream disposal, collection and recycling
will fall short, leading to targets that will almost certainly be
missed by most organizations.
Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) as an Alternate Measure of
to these multiple headwinds, Gartner anticipates enterprises will
switch focus from increased use of recyclable packaging and
elimination of plastics to lower-carbon packaging. Using less
packaging material and/or materials that are more efficiently
produced, transported, and processed can lead to an affordable
reduction in carbon footprints.
Over a decade ago, LCA of packaging was piloted by several
organizations, but the complexity of data analysis and a lack of
relevancy at the time hampered adoption, according to Blake. Now,
new data analysis tools are making packaging LCAs more accessible.
Anticipating potential backlash for missing stated targets,
organizations are expected to develop messaging around the carbon
footprint of packaging and how actions are being taken to offset GHG
emissions and mitigate the risks of global warming.
“While missing targets will have repercussions in the public eye,
organizations that come to terms with the unfeasibility of their
previous brand-driven targets and embrace a more realistic,
affordable and effective approach will have more progress to show on
their sustainability goals than those who remain in denial,” said