Bord Bia survey shows packaging ranked top sustainability priority for F&B firms

Sustainable packaging and plastics were identified as a key issue for commercial food buyers in Ireland, according to new research conducted by Bord Bia.

When asked which sustainability issues would become more important to their business in the next three years, packaging was the most cited topic by the procurement personnel surveyed.

Meanwhile, packaging remains front of mind for consumers too, with approximately three in ten consumers surveyed reporting that sustainable packaging influences choice when doing grocery shopping.

These global research findings were similarly reflected in the results of Bord Bia’s recent Readiness Radar 2021 report where packaging ranked as the number one sustainability priority for the 111 Irish food and drink businesses surveyed.

Bord Bia has also just launched an updated version of its Packaging Guidance for its Origin Green members to support the industry’s ambition to reduce the amounts and types of raw materials used in packaging. According to Bord Bia, interest among the sector is high, with over 130 attendees registered to attend a virtual launch webinar this morning.

Speakers will include representatives from Repak who will provide an update on recent packaging legislation and challenges and Mabbett, the international environmental auditing body, who will provide an overview on Origin Green’s packaging targets and the new packaging guidance document.

To date, Origin Green members have committed to 258 packaging sourcing targets focusing on improving the sustainability of their own packaging. This includes introducing packaging material that is recyclable, reducing the amount of packaging that the product uses or sourcing certified sustainable packaging material. .

Deirdre Ryan, Director of Origin Green at Bord Bia, said, “Achieving circular economy and resource efficient food chains through packaging optimisation makes perfect business sense; it translates into less impact on the environment, reduced operational costs and it avoids contamination of food, which all together improve competitiveness and enhance the benefits for consumers.

'However, we recognise that fully implementing a packaging optimisation project which increases the sustainability of a product, rather than simply reducing the cost, is often a complex task.

'There is a wide choice of different packaging materials, sizes and formats to choose from, as well as other factors to consider such as brand recognition, quality and competitors, delivery partners, and of course the behaviour of the end consumer. It is important therefore to begin an optimisation project with as much knowledge of the options and permutations as possible.

'We believe our new Packaging Guidelines being launched today will be of significant help to any company actively seeking to reduce the amount and types of packaging material used.”

Meanwhile, Brian Walsh, Packaging Technology Advisor at Repak, added, “We are delighted to work with Bord Bia’s Origin Green team on delivering this packaging webinar.

'Our continued collaboration is helping food businesses across Ireland to both set and achieve targets that make their packaging more sustainable. These are important steps in helping to reduce packaging waste and deliver a Circular Economy for Ireland”.

Almost 300 food and drink companies across Ireland are verified members of Origin Green, representing over 90% of food and drink exports.