To answer this question we must first define what it means for the program to work? Does that mean a Target percentage of participation in the recycling program? Does it mean a measurable return on investment by the company? Measuring the true environmental impact to the world at large is nearly impossible, but you can set measurable goals and metrics by which to judge your success.
I will discuss here the return on investment perspective. However noble a business’s intentions with a recycling program, the financial impact to the company is still the number one goal. Sustainability and corporate social responsibility programs allow a company to make a statement about their commitment to our environment and the betterment of our society.
Recyclable packaging shows supply chain partners and customers a commitment to sustainability and our impact on the environment. This can lead to an improved reputation with consumers, but does it relate to increased profitability and market share? The data on this subject is encouraging. According to research, two-thirds of consumers surveyed are happy to pay more for sustainable goods (Why Ignoring Sustainability Could Make Your Business Unsustainable, 2018). The survey also found that this figure is even higher for millennials. We’re defining Millennials as those born between 1981–1997. This means that in 2021, Millennials will be in the 24-40 range. Millennials are currently the largest consumer group in the world (Johnson, n.d.). Almost three out of four millennials state that they would willingly pay between ten and twenty-five percent more for sustainable products and services (Why Ignoring Sustainability Could Make Your Business Unsustainable, 2018). This is very good news for businesses who are exploring their corporate social responsibility and sustainability options. This willingness by the consumer to pay more allows businesses to invest in their sustainability without sacrificing profit margin.
When measuring whether or not recyclable packaging programs work, the data tends towards the affirmative. Measuring the success of these programs based on the terms of return on investment may seem crass, but I feel that the data equates to participation. If consumers are willing to pay more for sustainable goods, that reflects their willingness to participate in programs that benefit the environment as a whole, such as packaging recycling.
Essay by: Ashely B Bigley
Southern New Hampshire University