Industry vigilant in reducing environmental footprint

Food, beverage and consumer products manufacturers anticipate that they will eliminate four billion pounds of packaging waste nationwide between 2005 and 2020, according to survey research by the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA). Surveys conducted by McKinsey & Co. and Georgetown Economic Services found that more than 1.5 billion pounds have already been saved since 2005 (including 800 million pounds of plastic and more than 500 million pounds of paper). Another 2.5 billion pounds are expected to be saved by 2020, a total of 4 billion, which represents a 19 percent reduction of reporting companies' total average U.S. packaging weight.

"Across the board, the food, beverage and consumer products industry has been vigilant in its efforts to reduce its environmental footprint," said Pamela G. Bailey, president and CEO of GMA. "When it comes to eliminating packaging from the supply chain, we have already made significant progress, but we know we can do more.  We look forward meeting this goal to eliminate 4 billion pounds of packaging by 2020."

Packaging improvements have spanned most product categories, with no single category dominating. Companies reported that they achieved the 2005-2010 reductions through the success of more than 180 distinct improvement initiatives that included package redesigns and increased use of recyclable inputs.

"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," said John Shanahan, GMA's senior director, energy and environmental policy. "Companies are reporting that packaging improvements are also enabling them to ship more units per truckload, reduce green house gas emissions and conserve resources such as water and energy."

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