Making sense of environmentally conscious paper - Forest

Following on from my recent focus on ‘Sustainability’ and the posts I shared over the past few months – ‘Sustainability is now business critical’, ‘Practical steps to building a sustainable business’ and ‘The future of packaging’ – the BJ Ball team have created a ‘Green Guide’ to help our customers with the often complicated process of making environmentally conscious paper choices.

We’ve created this guide because helping your customers make the right choice when it comes to paper stocks is becoming increasingly important. A survey of New Zealander shoppers reported that 87% say sustainability is a concern and 71% saying they do active research around sustainability before they buy. A Consumer NZ survey found that New Zealanders are worried about climate change and are demanding higher standards from businesses.

In a recent article published by Genesis Energy, they outline 5 major consumer trends that they believe are likely to shape future for New Zealand businesses:

  1. The growth in carbon labeling. A differentiation point today, carbon labeling will likely become an expectation as countries look to introduce a ‘Carbon Score’ as France is proposing to do.
  2. A reduction in plastic packaging and waste. Consumers are judging brands on their packaging: recyclability, lower plastic use and more sustainable materials are all big ticks in a product’s favour. The Sustainable Business Council’s research reports “New Zealanders say that reducing packing and plastic best drives perceptions on why brands are sustainability leaders.”
  3. Reduced energy consumption. Kiwis are looking at ways to personally reduce their carbon footprint, by buying more electric vehiclesmore bikese-bikes and e-scooters – and they want to see businesses thinking along the same lines.
  4. Continued ESG investment growth. Companies demonstrating positive ethical, social and governance practices are finding it easier to attract investment dollars and grow their businesses. Kiwis not only want to buy sustainable products, they also want to put their money into responsible investments.
  5. Social responsibility. Consumers want to support companies which make a positive difference to their communities. The top trends for corporate social responsibility are transparency; green technology; local actions like volunteer events; and diversity and inclusion.

But it’s not just consumers that are driving the need for businesses to operate in a more sustainable way. A recent analysis conducted by NZTE highlighted that legislation and targets for sustainable packaging are being toughened in key export markets for New Zealand goods. These export markets include Australia, the United States, the European Union, China, South Korea and Japan.

These key export markets are implementing new rules to encourage sustainability. Rules and legislation include bans on single-use or non-recyclable plastic items, taxes on plastic packaging, requirements for compostable or reusable packaging, and obligations for distributors to take responsibility for packaging after products have been sold.

New Zealand Trade and Enterprise has released new resources on sustainable packaging for New Zealand exporters, in response to global trends and requirements for businesses to reduce waste and non-renewable material use. The new resources are available via myNZTE for free, with no registration required.

So regardless of the driving force, I don’t think there is any doubt that the need to offer environmentally conscious and sustainable paper and packaging options to clients will continue and increase. But just because there is a need doesn’t make it easy. Choosing the right option to achieve the desired outcome can be quite complicated.

In short, there is a lot to consider. There’s the type of fibre to consider and where it’s sourced. Then there’s the process by which it’s made and the water and energy consumed in the process. You have to consider the desired output and therefore the production process. And of course there’s the end-of-life outcome to consider and whether you are looking for a recyclable, biodegradable or compostable option.

Obviously there are a number of certifications available and that have attempted to make it easier to answer these questions. But unless you live and breathe this stuff, they can just add to the complexity. It’s why we created our ‘Green Guide’ and have made this available to our clients free of charge. If you’d like to understand more about paper and packaging sustainability, there’s plenty of information available on the BJ Ball website.

For a copy of our Green Guide please feel free to drop me a line and I’ll make the necessary arrangements.