Packaging and sustainability : a study of a liquid paperboard pack

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

The liquid paperboard (LPB) supply chain converts coated paperboard into single-use beveragecartons. The packaging industry claims to have engaged extensively with matters of sustainabilityand that it has taken many steps to improve resource efficiency associated with this type of packaging. Yet, the 2011 recycling rate of used beverage cartons (UBCs) in South Africa was 0.9%,implying that significant volumes are going to landfill disposal. UBCs are a source of high quality fullybleached furnish (paper fibres), which are routinely recovered and recycled in many other countries,and this practice has been shown by multiple life cycle assessments (LCAs) to reduce environmentalimpacts. The sustainability awareness of different actors in the LPB supply chain was assessed as the first objective, including both South African and international actors in the comparison. Similarities in sustainability reporting were determined by a content analysis of the annual reports supported by two analyses principled on multi-criteria analysis (MCA). The purposively chosen actors in the LPB supply chain were grouped into three namely, manufacturers, organisations and ‘retailers and brand owners’. An analysis using the three focal issues of the Nampak 2010 sustainability report, namely carbon footprint, recycling and training, as search terms shows variation in focus amongst manufacturers to be as wide as that in the two other groups though Stora Enso (an international manufacturer) is noted as having the having the most similar focus. PACSA is the organisation that has the most similar focus to the three Nampak-identified criteria. The four-criteria principled MCA with LCA as the fourth criterion indicates that Stora Enso has the most similar focus to that of Nampak; PACSA is the organisation that has the most similar focus to the four criteria and also had the most focus similar focus to Nampak for the single criterion of ‘recycling’. It is concluded that sustainability awareness in the LPB supply chain is more nuanced in the international companies (based on the date of first responding, word counts in the reports and use of LCA) but is similar between the three company groups in the supply chain. An LCA is presented in order to investigate whether policy recommendations for further reducing the environmental impacts pf LPB use in South Africa.

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