Carmakers and tier suppliers affiliated under the Suppliers Partnership for the Environment (SP) have published guidance on sustainable packaging aimed at reducing waste in the automotive sector and increasing the amount of packaging that can be recycled. 


The document – Sustainable Packaging Specification Recommendations for Automotive Manufacturing Operations – was put together “to provide straightforward industry-supported guidance to help automakers and their suppliers source sustainable packaging designs for use in automotive manufacturing operations”, said the partnership in a statement. It lists 18 recommendations for better practice when designing packaging and planning its use, including selection of materials, the avoidance of metal components and the avoidance of single use packaging.

The original document was put together by John Bradburn, sustainability expert consultant at SP member company, ERA Environmental Management Solutions, with input from carmakers such as FCA, Ford, GM, Honda of America Manufacturing and Toyota Motor North America, as well as their tier suppliers.

“This project is about companies working together through SP to share knowledge and lessons learned over many years of work to minimise waste across the automotive industry,” said Bradburn.

The recommendations outlined in the document are also designed to tackle barriers to recyclability in the design phase of the packaging, based on proven best practices that have been implemented elsewhere in the industry.

“We decided to put together a working group to measure and track progress towards increasing recycled content in the automotive industry,” said Sophia Borroni-Bird, GM’s sustainability lead and co-chair of SP’s Materials Efficiency Work Group. “The goal is to leverage our requests as an industry to increase demand for sustainable content and increase supply of it from our suppliers.

Borroni-Bird explained the group had been working together with suppliers to define sustainable content and how to track progress on its adoption.

“We’re very excited for the packaging specs and see this as the start of other sustainable material initiatives,” she said.

The group wants the sustainable packaging strategies outlined in the guidance document be entered into automotive companies’ product sourcing considerations, where appropriate, and distributed widely across the automotive supply chain as best practice guidance.

Look out for further coverage of the sustainable packaging recommendations including interviews with participants GM and Toyota in the new year