October 4, 2010
We all want to do our part to preserve the planet, but how can we make a difference? This article discusses the challenges facing us all, and looks at how Gumlink Confectionery Company is contributing to a more sustainable world.
Concern versus impact
When it comes to the causes of environmental impact, people often focus on factors that in reality have a relatively small effect. For example, despite the attention that disposal and recycling of waste receives in the media, the illustration below shows that its overall impact is relatively small.
On the other hand, the transportation required to produce goods and deliver them to the world's supermarkets has a much greater impact. The greatest impact of all, however, comes from food waste. In the UK alone, up to £12 billion of food goes to waste every year, which is equivalent to approximately 20 million tonnes of carbon dioxide.
Packaging in any colour – as long as it’s green
Gumlink Confectionery Company and industry in general is trying to address the issue of sustainability, by looking closely at the way we produce products, from the energy needed to create them, to optimising the design of packaging to make it more efficient to transport and fine-tuning the logistics process involved in getting our products to the retailers.
The food industry calls this process environmentally-friendly packaging. Over the last year, manufacturers have focused on this more than ever, in order to convince consumers that they take the issue of sustainability seriously.
Less packaging is best, right?
If we focus so much on environmentally-green packaging, why then do some of our products contain individually wrapped pieces of gum? At first glance, it seems obvious that this is unnecessary. However, look at it another way: being able to wrap and dispose used gum responsibly is much better for the environment than simply throwing it on the ground. It's all about perception.
The issues facing gum
The food industry is able to promote the green nature of its products. Whether it's organic apples plucked from the side of a mountain or chickens fed on the tenderest corn, the natural qualities of products like these appeal to consumers. So why don't gum manufacturers find a natural alternative to their products. After all, gum exists in nature. We know that one or two gum manufacturers have marketed gum produced from natural gum, but the fact is the retail price is significantly higher and, critically for the consumer, these natural products are of poor quality.
Steps we are taking
As it isn't possible to promote gum as a green product, we at Gumlink Confectionery Company are instead focusing on what will deliver the most cost-effective improvements – improvements that will help us as well as our retailers prove to the wider world that we have a sustainable value chain. Here are a few examples of areas we are focusing on:
- Minimising the amount of ‘air’ we transport, e.g. optimising the design of sales cartons
- Pooling of shipments to minimise empty space on delivery vehicles
- Centralising distribution points to reduce overall transportation distance
- Improving the reliability of packaging so fewer goods are spoiled during transit
- Identifying alternative packaging materials
- Providing alternative ways to dispose of gum (e.g. within the packaging itself)
The use of biodegradable materials is also something that we will be researching as part of our longer-term strategy.
If you would like to discuss how we can improve the sustainability of any aspect of our partnership, please contact a member of our sales team.