The Value of a Packaging Audit for ESG Reporting

September 15,2023 Category: Culture, Packaging Development, Regulatory Compliance, Sustainability
A packaging audit can have a variety of benefits for an organization. In addition to helping determine if packaging and packaging processes align with evolving priorities, it can also be an asset for environmental, social and governance (ESG) initiatives. Viewing the learnings from a packaging audit through an ESG lens, packaging teams can gather insights to make progress against sustainability, corporate responsibility and regulatory compliance goals, adding significant value to their organization overall.

Sustainability and the Environment

Through a packaging audit, a company can get a deeper understanding of their shortcomings or needs in sustainability and rectify these concerns through established processes and optimizations. An environmental impact assessment helps detail the environmental consequences of a plan, program, policy or project prior to moving forward with a proposed action. This allows companies to make the right decisions and implement methods to better meet their goals.

In reviewing primary, secondary and tertiary packaging, an audit allows for the evaluation of those processes to discover materials that are more sustainable, use techniques that utilize less energy or reduce the amount of waste that is produced. In this way, companies can invest in efficiency through better energy management systems, incorporating renewable sources and other energy-saving practices. In some cases, the up-front costs may be significant, but the outcome usually means savings over time, and overall, being a better steward of the environment.

Resource efficiency is another area in which companies can improve their packaging processes. By limiting material usage, such as right-sizing packaging for products, designs can be optimized with materials that promote a circular economy like recyclable plastics, or biodegradable materials like paper. This also includes sourcing, where an agnostic approach can enable reduced emissions and lower costs for manufacturers. By establishing a thorough effort to increase sustainability in a company’s packaging department, you can better appeal to shoppers by providing a better consumer experience, meeting their expectations and offering an enjoyable unboxing experience.

Corporate Social Responsibility

Not only can a packaging audit allow for a more sophisticated approach to enabling enhancements to packaging design and delivery, brands can also promote important social characteristics that impact all that are involved - from consumers and end-users to employees and stakeholders.

Making changes within your packaging department can foster creativity and innovation, which helps support fresh perspectives and a better understanding of what employees and customers are looking for. The importance of this should not be understated - when companies enact policies and processes that enable their employees to better perform their jobs, both the company and their employees reap the benefits.

Through a packaging audit, companies can discover areas in which they can improve workplace safety and put an emphasis on delivering on their staff’s needs. In doing so, they can increase productivity and efficiency by ensuring packaging lines are performing at their peak. This also means ensuring measures that promote workplace safety are prioritized, thereby reducing turnover and increasing employee satisfaction. These benefits trickle down to consumers as well. Companies can share this information through different mediums and make shoppers feel more comfortable with their products and services, giving a competitive advantage to companies that incorporate these elements over those that don’t.

Governance and Compliance

Compliance with the different regulatory bodies that oversee industries like food and beverage or pharmaceuticals, such as the FDA and the International Organization of Standardization (ISO) have their own rules and regulations. But in some cases, they can work in tandem with other regulatory bodies that govern sustainability, such as the EPA. When a packaging audit is conducted, outdated packaging and processes are brought to light and allow management and stakeholders to enhance internal policies, practices and participation within the company.

In addition to compliance, a packaging audit ensures repeatability through documentation and validation. This goes beyond ongoing quality assurance practices. Having a proven track record with documentation to back it up helps standardize the company and better track progress toward new or upcoming regulations. It also helps determine if goals are based on reasonable projections.

The Value Uncovered

By optimizing an ESG program through learnings from a packaging audit, a company is able to correct what’s not working, while providing an opportunity to share quantifiable progress in annual ESG reports. Having the ability to be transparent about the performance and adherence to regulatory compliance helps show a company’s commitment to their products, employees and consumers. Having the documentation and proof of concept for ESG should be a significant priority for brands in all industries.

For busy packaging teams with many ongoing projects and shifting priorities, finding the time and manpower to conduct a packaging audit can be difficult. Adept Group has experts all industries, in addition to specialists in sustainability, regulatory compliance and other important aspects of packaging. Reach out to us and let’s discuss how our team can add value to your company.