When we hear about accountable sourcing in the context of sustainable packaging, it’s often an advocacy for utilizing both renewable assets from well-managed sources, or non-renewable assets from the recycling stream as an alternative of virgin sources. This broad steering certainly covers the most important concerns of accountable sourcing, however an upcoming U.S. Securities and Alternate Fee vote led me to imagine that there are greater dimensions for us to contemplate.
The vote applies to a provision of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act that would require firms to disclose their usage of conflict minerals from the Democratic Republic of Congo and the surrounding area. There are 4 primary minerals of concern: gold, wolframite
(supply of tungsten), columbite-tantalie (supply of the ingredient tantalum), and cassiterite, which is an important supply of tin. Many of the scrutiny around these minerals happens with makers of electronics, and at first look there’s not much of a connection to packaging. My pondering was "definitely no gold in packaging, can’t think about there’s any tungsten, no clue what tantalum is, and tin might only show up in small quantities in tin cans (that are made almost totally from steel, in case you didn’t know)." But, life cycle stock data at all times reveals a host of materials that one wouldn’t usually affiliate with the major packaging supplies, and positive sufficient, there’s a measurable amount of tin can christmas decorations (click the next website page
) used to make most kinds of packaging.
Natural compounds containing tin can be utilized as catalysts, stabilizers, or polymerization aids to make plastics. Tin is an alloying component in aluminum. Glass containers have a coating of a tin-bearing compound. And sure, tin cans are indeed coated with tin. On a kilogram-by-kilogram foundation, it’s truly glass containers that use essentially the most tin. Second place? Recycled folding boxboard. Of all of the materials, I don't have any clue how tin components into making recycled folding boxboard - if you realize, fill me in, please.
Even so, the quantity of tin used is comparatively tiny. Utilizing the example of glass containers, a tough calculation tells me that about fifty two kilograms of tin were used in all the container glass produced in 2010 - that’s 52 kilograms of tin to make 8.5 billion kilograms of container glass. 52 kilograms of tin? That’s not a lot. To place that in perspective, Wikipedia tells us that nearly 300 million kilograms of tin were produced in 2006.
Wikipedia additionally tells us that someplace round 80-90% of the world’s tin is produced in China and Indonesia. So what are the possibilities that the tin utilized in packaging comes from the Democratic Republic of Congo, the place it's alleged that the sale of minerals goes to funding the conflict there? Probably pretty low. Nonetheless, it appears quite plausible that someplace in someone’s packaging provide chain, there’s a minimum of a miniscule incidence of battle tin. Addressing our usage of tin in packaging in all probability ought not to be excessive on our checklist of how to make packaging more sustainable, however it’s something to bear in mind.
My takeaway is this: there may be an absolute plethora of materials that go into making packaging. If we would like packaging to be actually sustainable, we must examine each enter. We can’t overgeneralize packaging and enhance our utilization of solely the largest uncooked materials. Things like tin, however small our usage is, can’t be ignored, particularly when lives might hinge on it.