Food Industry Giants Gathered to Discuss Sustainable Packaging

sustainable food packaging

writer icon - -     Jonathan C.   |   Sustainability     🕐 03. Feb. 2020

On Thursday last week, Arla, Aldi, Dagrofa, Orkla, industry lawyers, and several others from the Scandinavian food industry gathered in Copenhagen at the Sustainable Food Packaging conference held by Insight Events.

This is the first conference by Insight Events to focus on sustainable packaging. Last year a similar event was held, however, there was no focus on sustainability, purely packaging of foods.

New speakers and a theme to discuss a greener approach to food packaging have paid off, as the number of participants this year doubled, from around 30 to around 60 people from the Scandinavian food industry.

Knowledge Sharing is Key
”No one can solve this sustainable problem on their own”, said Karin Frøidt, Group Quality Manager at Dagrofa, as she opened the conference.

Rules and restrictions on what is allowed and how to innovate while respecting the legislation issued in Denmark and the EU, formed part of the main discussions on the day.

“Food packaging is subject to both transverse and specific legislation for food contact materials, and requirements for corporate documentation of compliance can be complex to navigate, and meanwhile, customer demands have increased in such a way that companies take responsibility and choose food packaging with care,” wrote Project Manager Louise Starklint in the welcoming paper for the conference.

Different Sustainable Approaches
A representative from Arla was present at the conference, explaining that Arla has chosen to take on the full cycle of the packaging process. While other representatives explained that they had chosen to focus on their company-owned labels. In the case of Aldi, the focus was on Private Label.

With 183 stores in Denmark alone, Aldi has found it necessary to contribute a large part of their time on CSR and have, the last year in particular, had a strong focus on packaging improvements and sustainability, Katrine Milman, CSR manager at ALDI Denmark, explained.

Aware of where Aldi could make a difference, Milman said: “We, of course, cannot influence the type of packaging on products we buy and sell in Aldi, whereas our own Private Label is where we can really make a difference.”

“Aldi is usually in the bottom of sustainable ratings,” Milman said and explained that it is due to Aldi’s previous business culture, where talking to the press was down prioritised. This is no longer the case, Milman confirmed to ISB.

Over the past year, Aldi has been working on their new sustainable goals for 2025 and chose to send their CSR manager Katrine Milman to share Aldi’s approach and sustainable goals with the rest of the attendees at this year’s Sustainable Packaging conference.

Aldi’s Goals for 2025
The 2025 goals for Aldi consist of: ”A larger usage of mono materials for food packaging, separable packaging, fewer labels, and a type of label which can be removed from the product.”

And two more specific goals: “100 percent recyclable, reusable, or compostable packaging by 2025,” and ”15 percent reduction of use of packaging materials”.

“It is going to be incredibly hard,” Milman said while confiding the fact that high goalsetting is needed to make changes with an impact.

No Greenwashing
Be clear on your sustainable message and your numbers of improvements, was the advice from lawyer Jane Frederikke Land, from LIGA Lawyers.

Do not overestimate what you can do, Land stated, while emphasising the importance of the companies not making promises they cannot keep. “Do what you say you are going to do”, she said.

“While marketing sustainable products or sustainable packaging, companies must be on top of how they market such goods, in order not to end up in any greenwashing scandals or any form of deceptive marking,” Land told ISB.

“I am now aware of way more challenges, than when I arrived this morning”, said Frøidt while laughing at the newly gained challenges the participants had been informed of.

Frøidt went on to encourage the other participants: “Share your knowledge, there is no reason for us to figure this out individually.”

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