The Need: Plastic is everywhere—from the tops of ice caps, to the deepest parts of the ocean—and it’s on the forefront of public consciousness. Yet, despite the increasing awareness of the plastic issue, we continue to produce more plastic each year than ever before. In turn, consumers are increasingly looking for plastic-free product alternatives—with 61% of brands and retailers reporting that their customer demand has increased for environmentally sustainable goods/services over the past 12 months. Amongst a growing demand for plastic alternatives, a lack of formal criteria for what makes a product better for the planet has led to growing confusion and greenwashing industry-wide. According to a 2021 article by Fast Company, even though 95% of people in the U.S. think sustainability is a good goal, most of them don’t know what to look for to determine if something is, in fact, sustainable. And, as per a 2021 report by the European Commission, 42% of the 350+ brands they’ve recently reviewed have falsified or exaggerated their sustainability claims.
The Solution: Oceanic Global launched the Blue Product and Packaging Seals to address the need for a universal benchmark and streamlined accountability system for sustainability in the CPG industry. With packaging accounting for over 40% of the plastic usage worldwide, Blue’s CPG seals start with verifying the elimination of plastics as the most prevalent consumer-facing touchpoint to the issue at large.
What makes it particularly smart or circular? The first of its kind cross-industry standard recognizes brands that meet mandatory criteria across the categories of: plastic elimination, end-of-life strategy, waste management compatibility and material sourcing.
Results, Benefits, and Outcomes to Date: The program has just launched 3 weeks ago and there are already 4 brands that have earned the Seal as well as an additional 15 in the pipeline. Impact is measured through the number of brands engaged as well as the amount of plastic packaging diverted from the waste stream.
Which of the Pact’s 4 Targets does your work help achieve? Target 1 is most closely related and then drives innovation to support Targets 2 & 4
How are you communicating your success? Blue’s Packaging Seal and Product Seal recognize plastic-free packaging and products compatible with available waste management infrastructure. There are two levels of the Seal: the Packaging Seal focuses solely on sustainability criteria of the packaging, while the Product Seal focuses on sustainability criteria of both the packaging as well as of the product itself. The Seals can be used physically on products as well as on packaging to support consumer awareness and education. Additionally, consumer communication is a mandatory requirement of earning the Seal. Brands are required to clearly communicate to consumers how materials needed to be separated and properly disposed of at least at two points in the customer journey from point of sale to the primary packaging.
What’s Next? Now that the program is launched, we will continue to expand and engage with businesses across the sectors of Beauty/Personal Care, Fashion, Electronics, Food & Beverage, Pharmaceutical, and beyond.
Roadblocks & Lessons Learned: The development of the standard has been an in-depth process with our scientific advisors and inaugural cohort of 20 brands. We have been learning significantly about challenges facing brands in different sectors as well as available and feasible solutions. The criteria are rigid, but the standard continues to evolve as new learnings and innovations are captured in the process.
Core Team, Partners, & Participants: Oceanic Global internal team in partnership with board of scientific advisors including green chemistry experts and industry leaders.
Time Frame: The program took 6 months to build and just launched in the first week of October 2021!
Quote: “Greenwashing is increasingly prevalent as demand for sustainability grows faster than methods of accountability can keep up. Consumers and businesses alike are navigating a complex landscape of misleading claims about sustainable materials and products. Even brands with the best intentions may have hidden plastic linings in their products, or synthetic inks and adhesives that prevent packaging from being compostable or recyclable. We saw a need to standardize accountability and best practice in the sector as innovation continues. In all honesty, based on current technology and quality restrictions, it’s not possible for all products to be fully plastic-free quite yet. The Blue Product Seal exists to celebrate the products that have been able to fully eliminate their plastics, and to provide consumers with clear labels for products that are fully plastic-free. At the same time, Blue’s Packaging Seal provides an opportunity to brands that still use select plastics (reusables, medical grade, FDA required, electronics) to be recognized for their valid sustainability achievements as well.” – Cassia Patel, Program Director, Oceanic Global”
Company/Organization Information: Nonprofit registered in 2016, HQ in NYC, 4 full-time & 4 part-time staff