Industry Will Save the Planet, Not Campaigners
As we have all been leading restricted lives for most of 2020, it seemed that the packaging world had taken a break from the inward-looking criticism of the products we make and sell. For so many of these products, the good far outweighs the bad, and yet it seems a whole new sector of the packaging industry has been created to critique, criticise and comment on the good work of so many. As we seemingly head towards a vaccine for Covid-19, we are starting to hear, once again, the ‘experts’ coming forward to raise the issues created by the packaging we produce.
Environmental packaging advice without solutions
From the BBC’s ‘War on Plastics‘ to our own industry-bible, ‘Packaging News‘, there is an army of ‘experts’ finding their voices again as they stand on the sidelines to raise the issues caused by packaging waste and litter, without ever having any solutions.
If we look back through history, we can see other environmental issues that have seen governments applying tax incentives for solutions (rather than punishment), with industry reacting to these incentives to solve these issues. It is never campaigners that have the solutions.
Cars are the best example of all. When I was a salesman back in the early 90s, I was rewarded by the government for having a diesel car, and my tax bill was reduced by a third if I did more than 18,000 miles per year!! That’s right; we were rewarded the further we travelled and the more fuel we burnt!! Over time, it became clear that new technologies were needed to reduce the use of fossil fuels and so electric and hybrid cars have now become the future, whilst a tax regime now effectively punishes drivers for using diesel cars.
How New Vision Packaging’s commitment to sustainability is leading the way
What drove the likes of BMW, Mercedes, VW and, most of all Tesla, to create and invest in these new technologies? Profit. The ability to make a product at a profit, in turn investing those profits into future technologies and, most importantly, returning some of these profits to shareholders and investors.
The packaging industry is no different; as we all work towards a cleaner, more efficient future, we do so with an alignment of values. The more we reduce the packaging we use, by clever design, or the use of new materials, the more value those skills offer to our customers and, hopefully, the higher the rewards. What is good for the planet will, I am sure, be good for our industry. But it is our industry that works hard to resolve these issues. At New Vision Packaging, where we specialise in added-value packaging often for gifts and seasonal packaging, we now design packaging to remove plastic where possible and to reduce the overall amounts of packaging being used. This might not be the total solution, but it offers some solution for our customers. This is a far more effective solution than some of the ‘green-washing’ that we see, with claims from brands and packaging companies that cannot be substantiated.
Environmental consultants: just another waste problem?
The environmental debate has given birth to a new section of our industry. I fear it is a section that offers little value, but that has been built to further the careers of ‘experts’, who commentate on the work of others and then collect healthy fees by offering consultation services. I’m afraid they seem to offer little in the way of solutions…
Whilst the decades of consumption are behind us, and Gordon Gekko’s claim that ‘greed is good’ looks out of place in todays world, there remains some truth in the idea that capitalism works, and that it is industry and government working together that will find the solutions to the world’s problems. The commentators and experts are, I fear, a by-product of this and perhaps they are another waste problem that we should try to eliminate.
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