IN THE SHADOW OF THE PANDEMIC, THERE MAY BE AN EVEN GREATER THREAT LURKING FOR THE FMCG INDUSTRY AND THUS ALSO FOR THE LABEL AND PACKAGING INDUSTRY
It is absolutely understandable and comprehensible that the entire human race is dealing with the pandemic, since the direct and indirect effects are being brought out in front of us every day and we all feel it. Yes, a pandemic is a great danger to life and limb and also to the global economy. And it is not one that cannot be minimised or played down.
But a far greater danger, which is currently slumbering in the shadow of the pandemic and has been pushed into the background here and there by COVID 19 topicality, is the careless use of resources. In plain language this means environmental pollution, environmental protection.
It is therefore appropriate to quote from the LANCET Report in order to demonstrate the threat we are facing:
“Pollution is the largest environmental cause of disease and premature death in the world today. Diseases caused by pollution were responsible for an estimated 9 million premature deaths in 2015—16% of all deaths worldwide— three times more deaths than from AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria combined and 15 times more than from all wars and other forms of violence. In the most severely affected countries, pollution-related disease is responsible for more than one death in four. Pollution disproportionately kills the poor and the vulnerable. Nearly 92% of pollution-related deaths occur in low-income and middle-income countries and, in countries at every income level, disease caused by pollution is most prevalent among minorities and the marginalised. Children are at high risk of pollutionrelated disease and even extremely low-dose exposures to pollutants during windows of vulnerability in utero and in early infancy can result in disease, disability, and death in childhood and across their lifespan. “
And if one believes that human life is the only victim of pollution, let one consider what unsustainable productions and systems are causing world economic damage year after year:
“Pollution is costly. Pollution-related diseases cause productivity losses that reduce gross domestic product (GDP) in low-income to middle-income countries by up to 2% per year. Pollution-related disease also results in health-care costs that are responsible for 1·7% of annual health spending in high-income countries and for up to 7% of health spending in middle-income countries that are heavily polluted and rapidly developing. Welfare losses due to pollution are estimated to amount to US$4·6 trillion per year: 6·2% of global economic output.”
A systemic correct sustainability is the order of the day and necessary. The current pandemic in particular shows us that it is very difficult to deal with global threats. And unsustainable production in all supply chains is a global threat in the long run. Therefore, preventive measures must be taken jointly. Because there will be no vaccine for this.
We have made a big mistake: we have created an abstraction from the idea of sustainability, and this abstraction does not allow us to see the true extent of the threat. We are seeing polar bears losing their habitat, soils that are drying up, children starving to death in Sudan, sea levels that will eventually rise, and 2050 is still a very long time off for some people. We see a lot of plastic floating in the oceans, and we are upset or engaged when sea creatures get caught in it. Very few of us are aware that they are actually threatened by it, both directly and personally. Nor do we realise well enough that all supply chains, which are fragile anyway, could collapse more quickly than we could ever imagine if certain factors were to be overturned. And this is not a pessimistic view or doom and gloom, it is reality. And the truth is never comfortable. But we have to face this truth and initiate transformations together. Unfortunately, we all abstractly call it climate policy or CO2 targets. This transfigures the view and perception of danger. Let’s call a spade a spade: existential threat through excessive intervention in ecosystems.
Sustainability must be implemented on a science-based basis and populist measures must give way to system-integrated measures. However, the entire supply chain is called upon to do this. The label and packaging industry must also take a closer look at this issue.