Sustainability has emerged as a major objective for businesses worldwide in recent years. With increased concerns over environmental degradation resulting in consumers becoming more aware of the cumulative impact of every action, the demand for eco-friendly practices is at an all-time high. Thus, businesses are looking for ways to align their operations with Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) principles. In this context, sustainable food packaging has gained significant attention as an essential component for businesses looking to incorporate ESG initiatives and comply with the Securities and Exchange Board of India's (SEBI) Business Responsibility and Sustainability Reporting (BRSR) regulations. Here is a synthesis of these attempts and their consequent benefits.
Is there a need for change?
As one of the world's fastest-growing economies, India has to contend with multiple challenges to ensure sustainable growth. Every sector needs to reform traditional ways of functioning to comply with initiatives pertaining to conservation. Foremost among these is the food and beverage industry, which contributes to environmental degradation through excessive waste output, resource depletion, and carbon emissions, thereby jeopardising the planet’s future.
Why focus on the packaging?
In today's dynamic and competitive economy, packaging is about more than just protecting the products and ensuring easy delivery- It has evolved into a potent branding tool that attracts consumers' attention while communicating a brand's beliefs and identity. However, using single-use plastic, non-recyclable chemicals, and excessive layering, has resulted in a global plastic waste catastrophe, harming our ecosystem and depleting vital natural resources while tarnishing the brands’ reputations, especially among the environmentally conscious audience.
In the Indian setting, particularly when industries such as food and beverage, retail, and e-commerce are witnessing tremendous growth, the impact of unsustainable packing practices is undeniable. With a large population and a growing middle class, India generates a lot of trash as a result of packaging, contributing to pollution, landfill overflow, and ecological deterioration. It is critical for Indian firms to acknowledge their role in catalysing this catastrophe and to take steps to avert the impending crisis. Embracing sustainable food packaging solutions is an integral part of this.
Spearheading Conservation: ESG Initiatives in India?
The winds of change are blowing across India's corporate landscape, and ESG initiatives have become a beacon of progress. As concerns over the impact of wasteful practices on the environment assume centre stage, investors are becoming more cautious. They want to park their money with companies that would provide returns without compromising their environmental and ethical responsibilities. In recognition of this, Indian businesses are leading the charge when it comes to ESG initiatives, especially in the realm of sustainable food packaging. They are discarding traditional materials and investing in biodegradable and recyclable alternatives that align with global sustainability goals and meet the surging demand for eco-friendly products. Therefore, these companies are actively tackling environmental challenges while fostering a culture of responsible consumption, making it a win-win situation for the planet and consumers.
Sustainability as a legal responsibility: The Introduction of BRSR Compliance Regulations by SEBI
To further encourage businesses to engage reflexively with the need for sustainable practices and promote transparency through the full disclosure of ESG-related information, SEBI introduced the BRSR regulations in India, thereby making it compulsory for listed companies to report their performance (including initiatives taken) in the realm of promoting sustainability. This presents a unique opportunity for organisations to adopt sustainable food packaging as a demonstration of their commitment to abide by rules while protecting the environment.
As is evident, sustainable practices have rapidly emerged as the cornerstone of development, and with this movement, sustainable food packaging has assumed tremendous importance. It is no longer a matter of ethical code compliance - companies in India need to adopt these practices to meet the requirements of ESG efforts and adhere to BRSR laws. Additionally, these practices help improve brand reputation and satisfy customer expectations. Therefore, they serve as flagbearers of change and help craft a cleaner, more inclusive and equitable future.