June 3, 2014 Sofus Midtgaard



Leaderlab, Danish Ministry of The Environment and the City of Copenhagen hosted a partnership session on Rethinking Packaging at this year’s Global Green Growth Forum (3GF) pre-meeting May 13, 2014.


The session united participants from IKEA, Unilever, ARLA, UNDP, Danish Ministry of The Environment, Danish Ministry of Business & Growth, City of Copenhagen, WRAP, WEF (YGL), Ellen MacArthur Foundation, EPEA  and Copenhagen Cleantech Cluster to Rethink Packaging.


Mervyn Jones, Head of Products & Materials, WRAP.


Ida Auken, MP & Former Minister of The Environment & WEF YGL

The session was kicked of by Ida Auken, MP & Former Minister of The Environment and WEF YGL and Mervyn Jones, Head of Products & Materials, WRAP.


The Challenge

With the rise of a new global ‘middle class’ with an increased buying power, the challenges around packaging and its environmental footprint will escalate globally. It’s a challenge that calls for international collaborations and innovations all the way through the value chain: from raw materials, chemistry, design, production, retail, use, disposal to recycling.



Pre-competitive collaboration around new packaging formats, material standards, reversed logistics, sorting systems and recycling facilities have the potential to dramatically reduce the footprint of the packaging industry and create new green jobs.

The Potentials in a Partnership

The partnership session attacked the current packaging challenge from two complementary perspectives:

1. A global collaboration focused on precompetitive industry collaboration and systems innovation

2. A local collaboration focused on sorting and recycling of plastics with Copenhagen City as test-bed


The Global Collaboration

The Global Collaboration session focused on engaging key stakeholders within packaging in identifying barriers and levers for a sustainable shift of the packing system. Ensuring that new innovative solutions within packaging that lowers the CO2, weather and chemical footprint are brought to scale requires an effort beyond that of the individual company or legislative organization.

systems-innovation-packagingThere is an urgent need to rethink packaging and to find innovative sustainable methods and approaches to the making and use of packing, across materials usage, packaging design, policy frameworks and consumer engagement.

The goal of the partnership is to engage key stakeholders in the packaging value chain in systems innovation to identify barriers and potentials for collaborative innovations and partnerships to drive a more sustainable packaging industry both globally and regionally.  We will aim at:

  • Engaging global actors across the value chain and society in greening the system of packaging
  • Help form precompetitive industry collaboration and system innovation to drive sustainable packaging
  • Identify and help scale disruptive innovations in sustainable packaging.

The Regional Collaboration

The Local Collaboration session took its outset in Copenhagen City. Copenhagen has been using a major share of waste generated in the city as a source of heat and electricity.  However with the plan for making Copenhagen carbon neutral by 2025 a disruptive shift will take place with the recovering of plastics from the waste stream and avoidance of incineration corresponding to about 12% of the required CO2 emissions reductions.

An important milestone in the Copenhagen plan for carbon neutrality is to ensure that by 2018 the following targets are met:

  • 20 percent reduction in waste to incineration – from 324,000 tonnes in 2010 to 260,000 tonnes in 2018
  • 45 percent of household waste to recycling – from 55,000 tonnes in 2010 to 100,000 tonnes in 2018.

Meeting these goals require significant technical and behavioral changes throughout the city that can only be achieved in collaboration with public and private partners. Implementing the circular economy approach and shifting the existing material stream of plastics in Copenhagen therefore requires strong public-private partnerships.

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