Three Sustainability Drivers Reshaping the Food Packaging Industry in the MEA region, according to SIG Combibloc Obeikan

SIG Combibloc Obeikan (SIG CBOB), one of the world’s leading suppliers of carton packaging and filling machines for food and beverages, identifies 3 major drivers making sustainability an integral part of the future of the MEA food packaging industry. These include accelerating consumer demands for sustainable and responsible products, corporate involvement and government legislations.
Consumers expect innovative packaging solutions to match today’s products benefits driven by natural and health trends and the aim to reduce negative impact on the environment.By 2021, it is expected that sustainably-minded U.S. shoppers will spend up to $150 billion on sustainable FMCG goods. This represents an increase of between $14 billion to $22 billion. With growing environmental awareness, 90% of global consumers compared to 68% of South African consumers in the MEA region will pay more for products from brands committed to environmentally friendly practices. We expect these figures to continue growing.
The emergent necessity to protect the environment is increasing public pressure on governmental entities to incorporate a new wave of legislation.Governments are not only banning plastic, but mandating recycling and reusable materials. The UK government,for example, announced its 25-year environmental plan to achieve zero avoidable waste by 2050, and eliminating avoidable plastic waste by the end of 2042. The Middle East region has followed these steps. Impactful projects are being undertaken by MEA countries to demonstrate the increased levels of sustainability awareness and build on the available opportunities. The UAE has announced recently the single-use plastics ban at Dubai Airports.Saudi Arabia has extended its banned list to counter environmental-health risks posed by plastic waste. Bahrain phased out the use of plastic products in the kingdom. Over 15 countries in the African continent have either banned plastic bags completely or charge a levi on them. Middle East countries have taken positive steps towards addressing the core environmental issues and improving sustainability situation in their respective countries. The worldwide and regional positive trends show clear inclinations from governments, non-governments and industries towards sustainable food packaging.
On the other side, corporations are stepping up to sustainability, changing both the economic and retail landscape. Leaders are now embracing sustainable food and beverage packaging. 250 companies from Pepsi Co. to Unilever to H&M have joined in the effort to end the flow of plastic into the ocean. In addition, a rising number of corporates in MEA are presenting their commitment towards protecting the environment and fostering sustainability in their respective markets. Implementing environment-friendly policies and practices with introducing eco-friendly responsible packaging is also enabling these firms to distinguish themselves from the competition.
All this momentum is creating opportunities for innovative food packaging products. SIG has set out to become a net positive company three years ago. The company has achieved a host of sector firsts: First to release labelled packs in the dairy and juice market andto enable customers to include the FSC™ (Forest Stewardship Council™)label onall its packs with now 96% of SIG packs carrying the logo; First to offer an aseptic carton 100 % linked to renewable plant-based materials via a certified mass balance system – SIGNATURE PACK 100, who won the environmental award at the Gulfood Manufacturing awards last year. We have also completed the switch to 100% renewable energy – electricity and gas – at our production plants worldwide, investing in renewable energy projects certifiedto the GoldPower® standard to offset CO2 where it is not feasible to source renewable energy directly.In addition, first who have achieved certification to the new Aluminium Stewardship Initiative (ASI) standard by enhancing traceability and responsibility in the aluminium supply chain with first ASI labeled cartons at the POS and finally first to offer a market-ready paper straw solution as an alternative to plastic straws for use with aseptic carton packs, launched in early 2019in the Dominican Republic by Nestlé.