At SB’16 Cape Town in May, Tetra Pak, South African Airways (SAA) and the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) came together to share their views on the importance of building market demand from environmentally conscious consumers to move sustainable commodities further into the mainstream.
According to FSC consumer research encompassing over 9,000 respondents in 11 markets, consumers show a growing concern for environmental issues – such as climate change – and are looking for more information on sustainable and ‘eco’ alternatives. Brands most effectively support this movement by making such products and services available, visible, affordable, and of high quality, and by providing very clear communication about them for consumers.
As the world’s leading food processing and packaging solutions company, Tetra Pak works closely with its customers and suppliers to provide safe, environmentally sound products that meet the needs of their target audiences. According to a survey by Tetra Pak of more than 6,000 consumers and 240 influencers in 12 countries, awareness of and demand for environmentally friendly packaging is increasingly becoming a driving factor within the industry that producers and other custodians in the supply chain ignore at their cost. The results showed that, since 2005, the number of consumers who regularly recycle waste has increased steadily from below 70 percent to nearly 90 percent. Furthermore, the study reveals that, overall, 67 percent of consumers believe that people pay attention to environmental logos on packs.
Similarly, 63 percent of South Africans believe that people pay attention to ecolabels, placing South Africans ahead of consumers in India, China, the UK, and Turkey.
It is also notable that there was a significant increase between 2009 and 2011 in the percentage of consumers who both look for environmental information and labelling, and avoid a particular product or brand for environmental reasons. While 2009 to 2011 saw significant growth, there has been continuing growth, albeit at a lower rate, since 2005. In 2013, a new trend emerged of a growing number (from 75 percent to 78 percent in 2015) of consumers who specifically buy environmental products even if they cost more.
Tetra Pak and its customers have embraced recycling and reduced environmental impact through, among other activities, FSC certification - a key strategy since many producers, retailers, and consumers are now pushing for FSC-certified packaging.
Tetra Pak’s experience is that all major retailers want their house brands of carton-packaged liquids to be FSC-branded. Many of Tetra Pak’s South African customers – including Woodlands Dairy, Pioneer Foods and Rhodes Foods, which pack milk and juice for retailers – are certifying and branding their packs with the FSC logo.
“Sustainability is at the core of everything that we do, and with Tetra Pak having access to FSC-certified paper board, we’ve set a goal to have 100 percent of our packs FSC-labelled by 2016,” said Woodlands Dairy CEO Lex Gutsche.
Consumers can trust brands that have the FSC logo, and research shows that they’re actively looking out for such brands – a development that has a growing impact beyond the packaging industry.
Meanwhile, South African Airways recently signed an agreement with FSC that will change the way it procures products that originate from forests. In 2013, SAA committed to becoming the world’s most sustainable airline group within 10 years; the airline is undertaking a number of initiatives to reach that goal.
One such initiative relates to how SAA procures the multitude of products that go into running an airline. SAA has embedded sustainability criteria into the procurement process, measures the CO₂ life cycle of each commodity, and looks at the overall corporate commitment to sustainability through the company’s policies and actions.
All commodities will be subject to this system and the impact will be felt through all of SAA’s suppliers because part of the sustainability evaluation pertains to how suppliers have integrated the same criteria into their own supply chains.
The FSC preference was an obvious one, as FSC is seen as the leading sustainability signifier when it comes to responsible sourcing of forest-derived products. As part of the agreement, SAA will be receiving extensive training on sustainability matters related to forest products used on-board flights or at their corporate headquarters, which will allow every level within SAA to make the right choices and lead by example to achieve the goal of becoming the most environmentally sustainable airline group in the world.
The testimony of these two corporate giants is proof that our society’s growing sense of responsibility for the environment opens up doors to consumer-focused companies across all industries to incorporate sustainability within their products and policies. This is an opportunity that will not only help to drive consumer demand and sales, but also contribute towards ensuring we have Forests for All Forever.