Packaging sustainability index

There is a slow, global shift in reducing the environmental impact of packaging, with most shoppers now expecting and demanding more sustainability. This widespread commitment to sustainable consuming has had tremendous momentum whenever nudged in the right direction in the UK notably with the 5p charge on plastic bags yielding an 86 drop in single-use plastic bags between 2014 and 2017.

Surprisingly, there is often a divide between these intentions and the consumer reality. We believe that this is largely due to sustainability not being a simple parameter consumers can take into account when purchasing a product. Now, more than ever, consumers are ready for another nudge; which is why we propose the introduction of a sustainability index for the packaging of everyday consumer goods. We suggest the use of a colour-graded scale, displayed prominently on the front of the package, to identify at-a-glance the environmental impact of the packaging of the product.

For everyday consumer goods (e.g. toiletries, pens, yoghurts, etc.), the price spread between competing brands is low, and the frequency of purchase is quite high. The choice of product often then comes down to habit, marketing, shelf position, availability, etc.. A prominent, easy-to-see index allows sustainability to become a factor the consumer can consider when purchasing these essential and recurring products.

With strong credibility and consumer adherence, this index could make sustainable packaging stand out competitively, and reward the better packaging Manufacturers
. This would in effect create a positive feedback loop, without saturating the market with regulations or penalising smaller suppliers.

We believe that the success of this proposal rests on solid assumptions (consumer adherence) as well as simple, quick and low-cost implementation. Furthermore, we believe that, by making sustainability an opportunity for competitiveness, we gain a large scope for future development.

Joint idea by Dylan Price and Antoine de Saint Germain





Trigger (intervention)




Feedback Dynamics


Timescale and scaleability





Dylan Price

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