The Consumer Goods Forum, an industry group dominated by large corporations, has just launched the Global Protocol on Packaging Sustainability 2.0. The Protocol is designed to provide the consumer goods and packaging industries with a common language, consisting of a framework and a measurement system with which to discuss and assess the relative sustainability of various approaches to packaging. GallonDaily sees much merit in the Protocol but is also concerned that it fails to properly account for the fact that the sustainability of packaging depends not only on the package itself but also on the social systems, such as collection for reuse and recycling, as well as such issues as refrigeration and food production, transportation, and storage, that are highly dependent on regional, local, and cultural factors. The Protocol may work for the large corporations which developed it when operating in developed countries but it doesn’t look nearly so useful for SMEs anywhere or for companies manufacturing in, or selling products into, developing countries.
The Protocol makes good use of Life Cycle Analysis approaches to measurement of a wide range of packaging environmental aspects but it is rather weak on social aspects. It also includes a few metrics that GallonDaily considers rather strange. For example, it contains a metric for Toxicity, Cancer (which the report seems to think has something to do with aquatic eutrophication), then states that “Numerous pollutants released to the environment are known to cause cancer.” and “Most industrial processes will have some emissions to include in this category and therefore a complete accounting of the product life cycle is important”. Unlike the Protocol, GallonDaily is inclined to the view that any packaging that includes any significant quantity of carcinogens anywhere in its lifecycle is inherently unsustainable and should not be used.
The Protocol is available at http://globalpackaging.mycgforum.com
and its approach is apparently free for use by anyone.