Once again, it seems consumers and the general public are ahead of many corporations and brands when it comes to sustainability. San Francisco’s new composting law has gone into effect, and many SF residents are excited about it. The goal is to decrease the amount of SF’s trash that goes to landfills from 18% today to zero in 2020 by increasing the amount of materials currently being composted. It’s early, but it seems consumers are generally embracing the opportunity, with some apartment dwellers noting that the arrival of the composting bin has enabled a conversation with neighbors about collective sustainable behavior.
But when it comes to packaging, there’s very little that can be tossed into the compost heap right now. Frito-Lay’s Sunchips® has gained a fair amount of press for their goal of using a fully compostable chip bag by next year, although there is some debate about where it can be composted. Aside from Sunchips, it’s hard to find examples of brands trumpeting the recyclability or the recycled content in their packaging.
Our ImagePower Green Brand’s survey has shown increasing consumer demand for packaging that is more recyclable and that contains more recycled materials. Yet, few brands seem to be focused on the differentiation that recyclable (or compostable) packaging could provide. Increasingly relevant to consumers everywhere, there is an enormous brand advantage to be gained by figuring it out. Sunchips seems to be the first out of the gate. But with the potential for composting laws like San Francisco’s to be signed into law elsewhere, brands need to be thinking about not just greening their products, but the packaging those products come in too.