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Pragmatic Approaches—Online Extras

By: Jeff Falk
Posted: June 30, 2010, from the July 2010 issue of GCI Magazine.

page 4 of 6

Can consumer demand still be considered the greatest driver of sustainability efforts? How has the economy impacted both consumer demand and efforts, generally speaking?

Funicelli: Consumer demand continues to be a strong driver of sustainability efforts, but it’s not the only driver. Younger generations are very focused on environmental issues, and want to see sincere sustained effort on the part of manufacturers to deliver products and services that satisfy the triple bottom line. My daughter is 6 years old, and she already has a firm grasp on the importance of energy conservation and recycling. CPGs are sensitive to this kind of shift in thinking, and understand the consumer interests as well as the fundamental good business sense of functioning in a sustainable manner. Reducing energy costs and creating products and services that not only do not deplete resources, but even replenish them, can help ensure customer loyalty and the viability of a business.

It’s interesting that despite the economy, studies show that consumers’ interest in eco-friendly packaging has not waned. Ultimately, people want to feel good about their purchase, and choosing a recyclable package makes them feel even better about it.

Ormiston: Certainly, the product offering was [packager and brand owner] demand over the years. They’ve been asking about that and the anodized finish since it is a conversion coating of the aluminum itself. It’s very particular to the pedigree of the aluminum so you have to have very tight controls.What we call anodizing requires quality aluminum to make components, and if any of that gets out of balance you have a poor finish, the aesthetics on the anodized finish are not very good and that’s a lot of times driven by how well-controlled the chemistry of the aluminum is. We also have to worry about the environmental impact of recycled aluminum.

In years past, we rode out a lot of economic downturns. People wouldn’t buy houses or cars but they bought cosmetics because they wanted to look good, it made them feel good. But, you know, it’s been a special time, the last year and a half. Now people are worried, and that has definitely impacted some of the luxury brands. Now I think that’s starting to turn back around a little bit.