Collaborating to Create Sustainable Packaging Systems with IGD

These powerful insights highlight the scale of action needed to make packaging systems more sustainable.  We are continuing to mobilise industry around the three key levers for change, focussing on removal and impact reduction.  Ultimately this has been a real eye-opener for industry and despite the current challenges, strategies are being reviewed.”

Amanda Curtis – Sustainability Specialist, IGD


In 2021, Institute of Grocery Distribution (IGD) convened key stakeholders from across the food and consumer goods industry to tackle a shared challenge — how to make packaging systems more sustainable whilst ensuring the benefits of packaging are maintained. As a result, the ambition was created: to halve the environmental impact of all packaging systems by 2030. IGD wanted to look at all packaging materials and set a common direction of travel that goes beyond legislation and industry commitments.


Anthesis began by developing the baseline for the ambition to define the industry’s position in 2019. Anthesis identified the best data sources, reviewed packaging material flows, and assessed the industry’s environmental impacts. We modelled three different scenarios to determine the extent of change needed to reach the ambition. The results from the scenarios allowed Anthesis to identify three key levers to meet the ambition, providing the industry with a direction of travel for the decisive decade.

Key services included:

  • Gap to ambition / goal assessments
  • Identification of hotspots for change
  • Sustainable packaging options and assessments
  • Packaging life-cycle assessments (LCAs)
  • Stakeholder engagement / workshops
  • Landscape reviews, covering regulatory, partnerships and NGO pressures
  • Peer analysis
  • Situational analysis and document review
  • Sustainable packaging strategy and action plan

Key findings:

  • Business-as-usual will not deliver progress towards the ambition, as any environmental gains from planned legislation and industry initiatives will be offset by an extra 10% of packaging put on the market by 2030.
  • By increasing recycled content, recycling rates and supply chain and transport decarbonisation, we do see a reduction in environmental impacts, but not enough to reach the ambition.
  • Only by increasing the above, plus removing 20% of packaging, will the industry meet the ambition.
  • The three key levers to meet the ambition are: removal, increase recycled content and decarbonisation.

The scale of change needed has never been measured before in the industry, but ambitious action must be taken in the decisive decade if we are to avoid the worst impacts of climate change and biodiversity collapse. The final report and findings will help the food and consumer goods industry drive progress towards this ambitious goal.

IGD has been instrumental in facilitating a collaborative environmental initiative with the food and grocery industry to drive systemic change within packaging systems. Anthesis is continuing to work with IGD and its members to guide them on the journey of meeting the ambition.

Anthesis is also supporting IGD with several other projects to reduce the environmental impacts of the food and grocery industry.