Assessing our impacts
We have always taken a holistic approach to packaging, looking at the packaging and product together. This is because the lifecycle greenhouse gas and water impacts of wasted product, whether it is shampoo or soup, can be much greater than the environmental impacts of the packaging alone. This approach enables us to be more effective in tackling our impacts.
We also look at packaging waste in the context of local recycling infrastructure. If systems are in place to be able to reuse and capture the value contained in packaging, this reduces the overall environmental impact of the packaging.
We assess the waste footprint of our products against a metric we have developed. This measures both the grams of packaging material and the product left over in the pack that have not been reused, recovered or recycled on a 'per consumer use' basis. For example, the waste associated with one serving of soup.
Our metric excludes the waste generated by our manufacturing operations, which we measure as part of our eco-efficiency programme.
We used expertise and knowledge from both inside and outside the business to develop our metric and apply it to our portfolio of products. We set a baseline of 2008 by calculating the waste from over 1,600 representative products across 14 countries. The calculation covers 70% of our volumes. To estimate how much of the packaging was not recycled or recovered, we use published national indices for recycling and recovery, industry association data or our own estimates where these are not available.
This analysis has helped us to see which categories of our product portfolio generate more waste than others, and which could therefore yield the biggest opportunities for reductions.