The question "What constitutes sustainable packaging?" has no general answer, such as one defined by law. As a result, the REdesign action area's first task in developing sustainable packaging was and is to clearly define what it means to us.
Packaging - Manifold Requirements
The first thing to keep in mind is that every package needs to fulfill a great number of technical functions. These include transportability, storage, ease of handling, product protection, shelf life and hygiene. Packaging requirements, especially for food, are often very demanding and can vary greatly depending on the specific product. Plastic scores in this balancing act since it provides advantages ranging from form flexibility to ease of handling and low weight. Especially in the recent past, however, the discussion on packaging has focused on additional attributes such as sustainability and resource conservation. The action area REdesign focuses on exactly those issues.
What Distinguishes Sustainable Packaging
We at REset Plastic consider the word "sustainable" as the responsible management of resources, the protection of our environment and mitigating climate change. Insofar as we cannot dispense with packaging, we then focus on increasing recycling and reducing plastic consumption, naturally without compromising on requirements related to product protection.
Style Guide: Our Concrete Guidelines on Sustainable Packaging Optimization
We have set three major goals for ourselves in the area of packaging design, all to be fulfilled by 2025: reducing plastic consumption, maximizing recyclability, and increasing the recyclate content. Our internal style guide includes specific guidelines on package design and is an essential tool in achieving these goals. It bundles together all requirements related to resource conservation and recyclability, is used by Lidl and Kaufland in all of their national companies and is also provided as a guideline to all purchasers and suppliers of private label products.
For instance, according to the guide, black plastics, dark printing colors or large-sized labels made of different material than the packaging must be avoided. Preference should instead be given to packaging made of a single plastic type (mono-materials), transparent colors and water-soluble adhesives. This is because both dark colors as well as the use of mixed materials have a negative impact on recyclability, and as a result increase the probability that materials will drop out of the recycling loop.
To provide suppliers with additional guidance, the style guide also includes "best practice" examples for successful packaging solutions from all product areas from frozen food to convenience products to meat and fish.