The Green Sustainability Ethos Is Growing at CPG Employers

 In Career Tips, Job Search Strategy


Green, Sustainable Job Seekers

Isabella Woods

An increasing number of CPG companies are yielding to the pressure of making their products more sustainable and friendlier to the environment. As a result, showing knowledge, interest and enthusiasm for sustainability is becoming more important for job hunters in the CPG marketplace.

As consumers become more ecologically aware, producers of consumer packaged goods are increasingly showing initiative and commitment to protecting the environment. This means that candidates who arrive at the interview with fresh ideas and demonstrate an understanding of the issues underlying sustainability in CPG production are very attractive to employers.

Consumer Pressure

Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of environmental issues around the consumer packaged goods industry. Over use of packaging, the locations from which materials are sourced, and whether packaging can be recycled are all issues that concern consumers as they are making purchase decisions. This is partly due to increased coverage of environmental issues by the media and the high profile activities of environmental groups. These activities are garnering increasing media exposure, with several high-profile incidents gaining prominence over the last few years.

For example, last year in Los Angeles Greenpeace targeted Barbie manufacturer Mattel and unfurled a banner denouncing the company’s choice of packaging material for their world famous doll. According to Greenpeace, the fibers used in Barbie’s packaging could be traced to forests in Indonesia, which were at risk of deforestation. The incident attracted much media attention and within a week, Mattel agreed to change its sourcing policy and made a commitment to sustainability.

A Move to Sustainability

Incidents such as this, and an increase in consumer awareness make sustainability and eco friendliness an important marketing element for CPG manufacturers. Numerous manufacturers are now making claims on their packaging, knowing that this is a “hot-button” issue that can steer consumer choice. Consumer are even turning their attention to environmental issues when choosing financial institutions- with banks perceived as having more ethical business practices coming out on top.

Drink companies are reducing the amount of raw material in their bottles and are turning to more eco friendly methods of production such as using cane ethanol based plastics, while a growing trend to include more products within a single container is becoming a common practice by many CPG manufacturers. Today, when it comes to packaging, less, it seems, is more. Labels such as Organic, local, seasonal, fair trade, made from recyclable material, and sustainable now feature heavily on many CPG products, so recognizing the migration to more eco friendly packaging can really boost a candidate’s chances of getting a job within the industry.

Understanding the Challenges of Sustainability

The marketability of being a sustainable CPG manufacturer is only part of the picture.

Sustainability offers both advantages and challenges for CPG companies, and job candidates that can demonstrate an understanding of this, stand a much better chance of being successful than those who cannot.

Sustainability does offer CPG companies the chance to save money. Obviously, less packaging means less material, which means lower costs- but the picture isn’t that simple. The design of new, sustainable packaging, and in many cases the retooling of packaging processes, can be a costly business and the return on this investment can take time to acquire. However, with the possibility of increased sales and a more marketable product, sustainability is something nearly all CPG producers are looking examining.

Demonstrating your Understanding

The challenge for prospective employees is being able to demonstrate that they understand the potentials and challenges of sustainability.

As with all business trends, the best approach is to look at what is already happening in the marketplace. As companies come up with new ideas for sustainable business practices, they are certainly not shy at shouting about it. Press releases declaring a new method of reducing materials and other sustainable practices are regularly circulated within the industry.

Doing some research before any interview will provide a prospective candidate with an armful of examples and ideas that he or she can discuss with a potential employer. Finding examples from similar companies, or even better, examples from a direct rival, is a sure fire way of impressing a potential employer.

Sustainability is the future of the CPG industry, so for candidates in the job market, the better they understand it, and the more fresh ideas they can bring to the table, the more likely it is that they will be successful in landing the position they want in the Consumer Packaged goods industry.


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