How is the packaging process structured?
- The initial stages run from the production of the packaging material, including the supply of packaging materials or empty packaging, to the filling process.
- During the filling process, the product and the packaging are combined into a product-packaging combination.
- Next, the product-packaging combination is packaged further in the packaging system. This packaging system usually consists of a pallet that holds a number of transport packaging materials that, in turn, hold the product-packaging combination. All this is transported to the retail location.
- Consumers buy the product-packaging combination. After using the product, the packaging type determines how consumers should dispose of the used packaging.
When developing packaging materials, the focus is often on only a part of the packaging chain (indicated with green arrows). This section of the chain runs from the material production to the moment at which the packaging material is disposed of. For organisations looking to make their packaging materials more sustainable, this is the most insightful part of the chain. Corporations often work together well with the suppliers of their packaging materials and the buyers and retailers responsible for sales.
However, the remaining part of the chain, indicated with light-grey arrows in the illustration, also has a major impact on the sustainability of product-packaging combinations. This section of the chain runs from the disposal phase via raw materials to the production of packaging materials and closes the chain for a circular economy. More information about this topic can be found in the section on Packaging in a circular economy.