WASHINGTON – Food, beverage and consumer products manufacturers anticipate they will eliminate 4 billion lbs. of packaging waste nationwide from 2005-2020, according to a Grocery Manufacturers Association survey. Since 2005, more than 1.5 billion lbs. have been avoided, and another 2.5 billion lbs. are predicted to be avoided by 2020.

GMA relays the 4 billion lbs. represents a 19% reduction of reporting companies' total average US packaging weight.

"Across the board, the food, beverage and consumer products industry has been vigilant in its efforts to reduce its environmental footprint," said Pamela Bailey, GMA president and CEO. "When it comes to eliminating packaging from the supply chain, we have already made significant progress, but we know we can do more. We look forward meeting this goal to eliminate 4 billion lbs. of packaging by 2020."

Bailey said the 1.5 billion lbs. of packaging avoided since 2005 includes more than 800 million lbs. of plastic and more than 500 million lbs. of paper. Most product categories experienced packaging improvements. Companies indicated they achieved the 2005-2010 reductions through 180 improvement initiatives, which included package redesigns and increased use of recyclable inputs.

"In eliminating this packaging from the supply chain, we are reducing a significant volume of waste that would otherwise end up in landfills, but the benefits go far beyond that,” said John Shanahan, GMA senior director, energy and environmental policy. “Companies are reporting that packaging improvements are also enabling them to ship more units per truckload, reduce green house gas emissions and conserve resources such as water and energy."