Identify key areas of focus
One of the core areas where we contribute to the sustainability agenda through packaging is the optimisation and consumption of packaging materials. You can call it weight or waste reduction.
We‘ve been tracking our performance in this area and holding the organisation accountable for delivering those targets. We made initial commitments in the 2010-15 period, which at that point was 50,000 tonnes, which was a success. We reviewed that commitment and made a new one to deliver 65,000 metric tonnes in the 2013-20 period, and we are working hard to hit that target ahead of schedule.
Developing a clear strategy
We are doing some things that are probably similar to other companies in this space in setting goals for sustainability, but part of the reason we have been successful is that we have clear internal goals and governance processes to hold our teams accountable. We do it on a six-monthly basis. We monitor progress and make sure that the strategies enable us to deliver on our commitments.
Another area where we’re taking initial steps is sourcing strategies for materials, starting with paper-based materials, where we are committed to addressing preferential sourcing through recycled materials or virgin materials sourced from certified forests.
Changing and embedding the right culture
I truly believe that anything you do regarding responsible management of resources need to include two key characteristics.
First, committing publicly to those goals, in order to drive change internally, which we have done. That creates the sense of urgency to deliver on our commitments.
The second thing that needs to happen is being conscious in selecting goals that drive growth on top of sustainability advantages, either top-line growth or bottom-line growth. So, for example, our weight optimisation agenda goes hand-in-hand with our margin improvement agenda and productivity efforts.
In the food industry in general, we have seen a cultural shift towards balancing top-line and bottom line growth to refocus on managing our margins. That has been a phenomenal contributor to delivering on our commitments in weight optimisation, for example.
Sustainability needs to be part of the regular business agenda, it cannot be seen as a separate project.
Staying on top of new opportunities
These are outstanding opportunities to explore growth of our business. We have an active programme in this space – digital technologies for packaging, digital printing and e-commerce. Those are among the key strategies to drive growth through packaging, in our organisation and many others.
We need to think differently about how to organise our supply chains to deliver on these opportunities, without affecting the costs base and margins with which we operate for the mass market. A lot of thinking goes into incorporating those technologies in the supply chain.
The main challenge many organisations face is integrating a value chain and supply chain model to deliver on the e-commerce opportunity. That means integrating it into the core business rather than maintaining the traditional supply chain model and then servicing the e-commerce channel through re-work or a second set of cost elements. That old approach would add to the standard cost of the product and make potential margin in e-commerce lower than the core business.
The future trends
These include mass personalization, e-commerce and what I call flexibility in the supply chain to drive price pack architectures that enable you to produce flexibility in size, to address the various channels and grow your products across them with the simplest supply chain complexity.
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