Packaging Sustainability Solutions

Key resources to demonstrate our support for sustainable design and production for packaging

This is an unprecedented time in the packaging sector.

Over recent years, the media has been packed with images of floating islands of plastic waste and sea life that has been impacted by packaging in the natural environment. As a result, stakeholders are aligning behind the principles of sustainable packaging solutions and the circular economy.

Developments in Sustainable Packaging

Policy and regulation has been introduced to support eco design, increase recycling, establish formal reuse systems (such as deposit return schemes) and encourage the use of more recycled content. Consumers and charities are demanding less packaging, the ability to readily see on-pack labels that show what can be recycled, and greater transparency about responsible management at end of life. Businesses along the packaging supply chain are responding with R&D programmes that are led by sustainability criteria, and by setting rigorous goals to drive packaging innovation.

And yet, now more than ever, the global pandemic has proven the need for good packaging to protect the products that we use in our every day lives. Fundamentally, any packaging choice must centre on the ability of the format and materials chosen to perform its primary function, that is to get the product to the end user in its best possible condition. After all, in most cases, there is more embedded carbon in the products contained within the packaging, than in the packaging items themselves.


What is a Sustainable Packaging Solution?

Our experience shows that there is still a lot of confusion about what constitutes a sustainable packaging solution. For some the answer is to go plastic free, but for others the focus is on making the right decisions to align with carbon or other sustainability goals. In many instances, messages about the sustainability credentials of packaging products are confusing and analysis about what might constitute a good substitution can be hard to come by. Balancing commercial decisions about unit costs with reputational risk and product availability, customer demand and product protection can be a minefield.

As more and more organisations are looking to set goals for sustainable plastic solutions, including recyclable, reusable or compostable packaging and reduction of packaging portfolios at primary, secondary and tertiary levels; navigating the confusion of information to support decisive action is something that benefits from third party specialist experience.

Learn more about our sustainable packaging and product solutions

Click below to learn more about:

Packaging Topics + Solutions
— Polymer and Plastic Packaging Expertise
— Green Design Tool and Life Cycle Assessments
— Sustainable Packaging Design Solutions
— End-of-life Solutions
— Paper Cup Recycling
Other Resources — Podcasts, Videos & Webinars
— Insights & Guidance

— Key Contacts



Polymer and Plastic Packaging Expertise

The explosion of interest in plastic and plastic packaging since the Blue Planet series has resulted in significant work for our teams. We are uniquely positioned with deep-technical expertise along the polymer supply chain; from our colleagues in Sustainable Chemistry to our Packaging Technologist and Policy and Advisory subject matter experts.

How we help organisations to tackle plastic packaging:

  • Understand the policy and regulatory landscape relating to REACH, chemicals of concern and hazardous materials to extended producer responsibility and plastics bans or taxes
  • Baseline and benchmark current performance at a business, industry or country level
  • Review ‘problematic’ plastic packaging, such as multi-laminated flexible, and evaluate strategies for the future
  • Stimulate new collection and recycling approaches, including developing new innovative end of life technologies for chemical recycling, or understand the investment risk and rewards that these innovations offer
  • Create and deliver on ambitious plastic packaging commitments and strategies and understand the potential for substitute materials and formats to achieve corporate visions for sustainability
  • Understand and address plastic waste leakage in the down-stream supply chain.

Lifecycle Assessment Tools (LCA)

We’re increasingly asked about the best or most sustainable packaging materials and formats. There are no easy answers, but our Lifecycle Assessment Tools (LCAs) and our team of analytical specialists have developed a comparative approach which allows packaging providers and purchasers alike to be able to understand the carbon or GHG impacts of choosing one packaging option over another.
Explore Our LCA Services

We offer services to explore the best sustainable packaging materials to utilise:

  • Use our Lifecycle Assessment software tools to create quick and easy to interpret results to illustrate the impacts of packaging changes on circularity goals and carbon or GHG emissions
  • Carry out comparative assessments of different packaging options
  • Generate technical reports, using standards and approved methodologies, to evidence the environmental impacts of their packaging products which can be shared with customers and third party stakeholders
  • Assess suitability of packaging for labelling or certification schemes
  • Demonstrate fit with eco design and end of life solutions
  • Create takeback and reuse strategies



polymer granules

Modelling and Cost Benefit Analysis (CBA)

Packaging regulations, such as extended producer responsibility, are being implemented globally at country and state level. To help businesses to understand the implications for their forward planning and to evaluate the impacts of their sustainability-driven packaging choices on compliance obligations we have established a suite of tools and services. Our team has also used our expertise to advise materials and industry trade bodies and policy makers. Our approach includes:

Our Approach to Modelling and CBA of materials:

  • Modelling the cost of compliance for new and existing packaging portfolios and new and existing regulatory systems
  • Creating evidence/data-backed position statements to inform consultations for packaging regulation changes
  • Undertaking cost benefit analysis
  • Modelling the scale and cost of leakage and mis-management of end of life packaging on the natural environment

Key clients that utilise our sustainable packaging solutions services, include:

  • Packaging and products manufacturers
  • Retailers and e-commerce
  • The hospitality sector (food to go, hotels, catering companies etc.)
  • The pharmaceutical industry
  • The waste sector, collectors and reprocessors of secondary commodities
  • Investors in the plastics and packaging supply chains
  • Charitable organisations
  • Voluntary industry collaborations

Sustainable Packaging Design Solutions

By combining our deeply scientific and technical understanding of sustainability with brand design agency 1HQ’s global team of design specialists, we provide the market with an end to end service offering for sustainable packaging design.

Sustainable Innovation Roadmapping:
For many brands and businesses, sustainable packaging innovation is a journey to embark on where the ultimate ambition may not be achievable in the short term. Here we can help brands define their sustainable packaging strategy and the steps to realise their ambitions.

Providing end-to-end services for sustainable packaging design, through:

  • Sustainability options assessments in line with global regulatory frameworks and best practice
  • LCA and impact assessments on packaging options
  • Practical evaluations of recyclability, reuse or takeback systems and suitability for collection, sorting and reprocessing in different markets globally
  • Completely new sustainable design solutions based on consumer usage journey
  • 2D and 3D design solutions
  • Consumer testing
  • Lean manufacturing evaluations and resource efficiency modelling
Find out more about Infinite Sustainable Packaging

Case Study

Product Stewardship for AkzoNobel 

The Project
AkzoNobel  commissioned Anthesis to undertake research into current practices and opportunities for more sustainable and circular management of their waste paint and containers.

Project Impacts
Conducted across key European markets, the research helped support the development of a strategy for leading the industry in the management of post-consumer paint and container waste.

AkzoNobel was then able to highlight current and future potential risks to the business, which helped to engage senior level decision makers.

End-of-life Solutions

We provide end-of-life solutions to support clients to achieve circularity in their packaging and product supply chains. These include:

  • Implementation of product take-back programs
  • Reuse/disposal routes for difficult to handle materials e.g. flexible packaging
  • Compositional and operational waste audits
  • Trials for end use of materials
  • Best practice guidance
  • Recycling and waste policies

Spotlight On:
Product Take-Back Programs

Implementing circularity often involves taking back products from customers or businesses whose models are based on leasing or device as a service.

Our global experts can help you to design and implement product take-back programs to effectively integrate circular economy principles into your business model. We provide end-to-end services, from the initial services blueprint process, pilots and service ramp-up, through to KPI’s, auditing and continuous improvement programs. We also have extensive experience with identifying, vetting, and onboarding suppliers and vendors.

Operating product take-back schemes involves compliance with multiple regulatory regimes, from trans-frontier shipments through to the transport of dangerous goods. Our team of experts has the knowledge and experience required to embed compliance in your operations and ensure business continuity, particularly in large businesses operating in multiple global regions.



paper coffee cups

Paper Cup Recycling

Since 2014 we’ve been facilitating and supporting the Paper Cup Recycling and Recovery Group (PCRRG), a unique voluntary collaboration that brings together over 40 organisations from across the value chain from manufacturers to retailers and the recycling sector. This group has delivered substantial change in the market place, through a series of ambitious programmes of work which collectively deliver on the Group’s manifesto to increase recycling collections and infrastructure across the UK.


Podcasts, Videos & Webinars

Insights & Guidance