A global patchwork of regulations forces Amazon into a difficult balancing act.

Source: Flipkart

The pressure from plastic regulations is mounting.

A global patchwork of regulations forces Amazon into a difficult balancing act.

Thomas Reiner | 09.10.2019

In the past, environmental and sustainability issues have often raised the question of whether and for how long the topic remains on the agenda. Those days are over. Factual situations, and public opinion in particular, are creating ever-increasing pressure around the world, which politicians apparently can’t escape from. A striking example is the increasing number of national regulations in the field of disposable plastic. In India, Amazon is feeling this right now – and reacts. The company acts against its sustainability conviction. As for the markets of industrialized countries, one continues to rely on plastic for good reasons.

In India, around 26,000 tonnes of plastic waste are produced daily. As the country’s government wants to tackle this mountain, India’s environmental secretary recently made it very clear: “It’s the e-commerce companies that cause plastic garbage, so they also have to worry about waste disposal and recycling.”

While Amazon in the USA, the UK and also in Germany has recently opted for plastic films instead of paper envelopes for smaller parcels, the Indian market is responding to political pressure. The company has announced that it will completely dispense with disposable plastic in packaging by June 2020. This applies in particular to air cushions and bubble wrap films, which are to be replaced by appropriate solutions made of paper.

Amazon bends to the political pressure, although it wants to replace paper with plastic in certain applications, especially for reasons of sustainability. The thin plastic bags save considerable volume and weight compared to the thick cardboard envelopes – and thus generate countable advantages in terms of the carbon footprint, but also in the use of energy and water during production.

In India, these arguments seem to weigh little. This is understandable when one considers that plastic can be problematic especially where there is no functioning collection and recycling system.

But it is also clear that national regulations create facts that are difficult to change – even if it makes sense or makes sense at a later date. As a result of the different starting points and interests worldwide, this creates a patchwork of regulations that poses challenges for international actors in particular.

At B+P, we are following the problems of sustainability, political pressure and public opinion very closely. Through our global agency network, we are right on the pulse of the times in many markets. We see exciting solutions for exciting times. And we always have an open ear for exciting insights and challenges.

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German discounter Lidl introduces its own eco-logo for packaging

Source: Lidl.de

German discounter Lidl introduces its own eco-logo for packaging

Thomas Reiner | 04.10.2019

Transparency and communication are important elements for any sustainability strategy. The German discounter “Lidl” has introduced a new eco-seal for the packaging of its private-label brand products called “responsible packaging”. Customers should be able to understand what makes the new product packaging more sustainable compared to the previous ones.

The seal will be consequently placed on the front of packaging. To fall into the category of “responsible packaging”, the packaging must meet at least one of four criteria. Which of these sustainability criteria is fulfilled by the respective packaging is indicated by Lidl.

The four criteria at a glance:

– Recyclability of at least 80%
– Recyclate content of at least 30%
– Use of alternative materials
– Saving volume or weight of the packaging material of at least 10%

The new seal is part of the “REset Plastic” strategy, which was introduced by the Lidl parent company “Schwarz Gruppe”. The aim of REset Plastic is to reduce the use of plastic by 20 percent by 2025, and to completely dispense with plastic in the case of private-label packaging.

According to Lidl, the new seal should make improvements in the sustainability of packaging transparent for customers. Even if one has been able to save a considerable amount of plastic since 2018, there is still a long way to go for the company. The renunciation of plastic is not possible overnight. It needs more sustainable solutions and innovations, as the use of plastic can be made more sustainable overall.

The initiative and the new seal of Lidl are certainly another good step in the right direction – even if the criteria for the seal could potentially be set even higher. In any case, the transparency vis-à-vis the consumers, who will learn concretely which sustainability advances the respective packaging has to offer, is to be welcomed.

Transparency and communication are important elements for any sustainability strategy. It’s about more than merely the right material and the saved tons. True sustainability works only where companies truly commit themselves to the topic.

Of course it’s about the packaging. But it’s also about the underlying thinking, about the training and inclusion of employees, about processes and the right communication internally and externally. Sustainability must be holistically conceived and implemented.

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Sustainability can no longer be delayed

Sustainability can no longer be delayed

Thomas Reiner | 27.09.2019

A recent survey by Accenture confirms what we at B+P have already been preaching for many years: the topic of sustainability can no longer be delayed. Companies urgently need sustainable products and packaging. This is especially true for brands.


The desire for more sustainability and conscious consumption has become increasingly anchored in consumers’ thoughts and actions in recent years. Companies are meeting a new reality here. Sustainability is more than just a trend – and therefore can’t be delayed any longer.


Results of the Accenture survey for Germany:

  • 93% of respondents cite the quality of the packaging / product as the most important reason for their purchase decision.
  • 86% named the price as crucial.
  • 85% of consumers believe that it’s important or vital for companies to design their products and packaging to be recyclable or recyclable.
  • 48% are willing to spend more money on more sustainable packaging and products.


The survey confirms the results of other studies (see chart) and aligns with our own experience and beliefs.


One thing is clear: Consumers give brands a clear mandate in terms of sustainability – to which they must respond. There is no way back – only forward!

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Circular Economy. no-plastics revisited: Supermarket chain tries again

Photo: Iceland

no-plastics revisited:

Supermarket chain tries again

Thomas Reiner | 19.09.2019

Recently, UK supermarket chain Iceland had to end an attempt to sell fruit and vegetables without plastic packaging. The reason: a sharp decline in sales. Now the company is trying again.

In spring 2019, Iceland launched two pilot projects on sustainability and plastics prevention in selected UK supermarkets.
• For instance, bananas were no longer wrapped in foil but rather with a paper band.
• In addition, 35 fruit and vegetable products were offered unpacked.
• Another 27 presented themselves in new, sustainable packaging such as compostable bags, paper bags and cellulosic nets.

Iceland reverted back after only three months. Obviously, consumers did not accept the new alternatives. Sales of the previous goods had fallen by 20 percent.

Nevertheless, the company is sticking to its conviction. In July, a new attempt was made to offer bananas “plastic-free” – with a test run in 20 supermarkets. Also a new attempt with unpacked fruits and vegetables should start later this year.

According to the company, it is looking closely at discounters in Germany, who are showing how it can be done.

It is therefore remarkable how Iceland is sticking to its sustainability convictions and trying again, despite a sharp fall in sales following the move of going plastics-free with some of its products. True sustainability starts in the DNA of a company, growing from the inside out.
That is in line with our mission at B+P, striving to assist companies in becoming truly sustainable and ultimately fit for the circular economy, especially regarding their processes and communications, as well as their packaging. Sustainability is our passion. We would love to build on your ideas. We are looking forward to hearing from you.


It’s time to put a freeze on plastics

Video-Interview with Managing Director Richard Walker

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Digital Transformation. On-pack AR on eco-refill packaging from Unilever

 Source: Unilever – Cif

On-pack AR on eco-refill packaging from Unilever

Thomas Reiner | 05.09.2019

Unilever uses augmented reality (AR) for its new eco-refill packaging for its household cleaner Cif. The move is part of Unilever’s strategy to develop new offerings for cross-linked always-on packaging. AR is a key element of this strategy.

Unilever wants to consistently use packaging as an always-on media channel in order to address and activate consumers at the point of product use. Augmented reality should be part of the integrated marketing activities and not an isolated one-off activity.

By using AR, one wants to make sure that the content and information one provides is always relevant and highly attractive. In order to achieve this, AR has to contribute positively to the customer experience and deliver real added value.

Unilever launches its on-pack AR on the eco-refill packaging for the Cif detergent The refill packaging is, according to the company, an innovation in the Household Products segment. Consumers can refill their already used spray bottles with an “eco-refill”.

The augmented reality offer provides instructions on how to refill and how to reuse unnecessary spray bottles, as well as information on some “surprises” not yet revealed at the time of the report.

Five key contexts have been identified for the use of augmented reality on packaging:

  1. Communicating transparency and messages on sustainability and recycling
  2. Storytelling
  3. Demonstrations of the practical application of the product
  4. Promotions and games
  5. Social sharing activities such as face filters.

For the own enterprise with the employment of augmented reality on the packaging one aspires a higher meaning and value of the brand for the consumer. In addition, one learns a lot about the consumer experience of one’s own brand. These learnings can be used well to further optimize the experience.

Another plus is that one can offer customers more shopping options. For example, via connected eCommerce pages – provided AR is used as part of an integrated and networked packaging programme.

In future, Unilever expects to provide consumers with personalized and dynamic content through packaging platforms.

When it comes to packaging as a media platform and the Internet of Packaging (IoP), we would love to hear from you and build on your ideas, as we find the topic most engaging. We’re looking forward to hearing from you.

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