Disposability is a concept that brands have been attempting to move away from for years. The idea that packaging must be thrown away after a single use is not just unsustainable but also expensive. As a result of this, disposability has been high on the business agenda in recent years.
Despite recent progress, Kantar (a global data and insights company) has identified COVID-19 as an obstacle in the way of further advancement. They have suggested, that as a result of the outbreak, struggling businesses will “deprioritise the sustainability agenda”. At a household level, “efforts towards sustainable living have been derailed due to the tightening of household budgets”, creating an increase in the purchase of products packaged in ‘single-use’ plastic.
We spoke to Robert Lockyer, CEO of Delta Global, a company leading the way in terms of designing sustainable luxury packaging. Our conversation focused around how brands can ensure they don’t backtrack on progress made so far.
“Have you seen any positive change to businesses approach to sustainability during the COVID-19 outbreak?”
“Certainly. The pandemic has brought to light the vulnerability of traditional business models. Adoption of technology and digital services, for remote working for example, have been forced upon us. Typically, these alternatives to the physical means are much more sustainable both in terms of future-proofing and environmental impact. Consumerism has also slowed. This has given businesses the opportunity to revisit process to minimise waste and overstock issues going forward.”
“What can brands do to ensure that they don’t go back to disposability models of the past?”
“Brands need to recognise the benefits their adjusted services have created. Less waste creation perhaps being the most significant. Understanding the impact that the pandemic has had on consumers and how it will affect their habits going forward, will also be a factor. For example, with many people under financial strain due to job losses etcetera, consumers will be more inclined to reuse, up-cycle and hold on to things for longer.”
“When it comes to moving away from the disposability model, what do you think are the key drivers for the future?”
“Consumers are demanding the change. This will require brands to ditch their disposability models as buyers become more conscious of their own impacts on the environment and society. Ultimately, consumers will put pressure on brands. Those who start making positive changes now will benefit from a head start in attracting and gaining the trust of this growing market segment.”
Although the pandemic has hit the economy hard, it has also opened opportunities for trail-blazing brands. With consumers demanding more, those brands who have stepped away from the disposability model will make the long-term gains. Consumers are making more considered purchases and supporting companies with ethos’ they align with. Brands that are prioritising sustainability will be the ones who thrive in the new world that is being created.
Now is the time to prioritise disposability as a core pillar of sustainability planning. Forward-thinking businesses understand that consumers are making increasingly informed decisions. When consumers wanted disposable products, the market changed to provide them. Now consumers want sustainable products, smart companies will provide them. Markets change and those who don’t keep up tend to be left behind.
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Written by - Sarah Miller