Sustainability is a top priority for Europe’s citizens and likewise for brands.
Influenced increasingly by societal needs and trends, the collective consciousness of consumers has become a collective movement of citizens, now inspiring and nudging brands to deliver even more for planet and people.
As corporate citizens and responsible actors in society, AIM members have an important role to play in meeting economic, environmental and social challenges. Our members continuously invest in their brands to improve their environmental and social impact, as well as the quality of life enjoyed by consumers, employees and the communities in which they operate. This is the right and necessary approach for the planet, our businesses and citizens.
Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
DRIVERS OF SUSTAINABILITY
Green Deal & the new Circular Economy
AIM Position: EU Circular Economy Action Plan (2020)
AIM member companies are integrating circular thinking into their business strategies through sustainable product and packaging design, optimised resource use and efficient waste management and recycling of their products, but also efficient production processes, responsible sourcing practices (AIM-Progress) and consumer involvement (Brands Nudging for Good).
Brands are united in these efforts, commitments and progress towards a sustainable future, in terms of achieving a clean and circular economy but also to reach the 2030 UN Sustainable Development Goals, going beyond environmental sustainability. Based on their unique position in the value chain, brands can impact, mobilise and engage stakeholders across their chains in the sustainability journey.
However, in order to reach the objective of a truly circular and climate neutral economy, much more needs to be done and invested in the upcoming years. These aspects are highlighted in our AIM position on the Circular Economy Action Plan.
Brands’ Green Claims & Consumer Empowerment in the Green Transition
AIM Manifesto: No Data, No Claim
To empower consumers to play their part in the Circular Economy, reliable, relevant, clear, understandable and EU harmonised information about the sustainability features of a product, such as environmental aspects, proper waste disposal, anti-littering and recycling, is key. This is one of the central points in AIM’s recently published Manifesto “No Data, No Claim” – Consumer empowerment in the green transition through clear and relevant sustainability information for all consumer products.
AIM, the European Brands Association, supports the Commission’s various initiatives regarding product sustainability information for consumers, substantiating green claims and tackling greenwashing, to ensure the continuing veracity and relevance of product claims related to environmental attributes. We need a coordinated, harmonised and holistic approach, bringing together the different measures that relate to the various aspects of consumer information.
The AIM Manifesto outlines among others AIM brands’ priorities regarding on-pack and digital consumer information, the call for establishing a European Stakeholders Forum for Digital Consumer Information, brands’ green claims paradigm “No Data, No Claim”, the substantiation of green claims based on robust, commonly recognised and science-based methodologies, as well as the Nudging for Good concept to inspire more sustainable consumer behaviour.
How to engage consumers in better sorting and recycling
AIM Position: EU harmonised system for consumer sorting instructions
In order to boost a circular economy and achieve the EU recycling targets by 2025/2030, the waste collection rates in the EU must increase. Alongside industry’s efforts to establish a better and more efficient collection, sorting and recycling infrastructure, it is essential to engage consumers now to achieve this goal by providing them with consistent, harmonised information on how to dispose correctly of their waste.
The divergent waste management systems and sorting obligations within the EU do not make this an easy undertaking. Also, the increasing proliferation of national labelling schemes and requirements in individual Member States puts significant burden on manufacturers and bears the risk of single market fragmentation, in the worst case scenario, resulting in 27 different mandatory on-pack labels within the EU.
To find a solution, AIM has developed a concrete position calling for a clear, simple and EU harmonised system for providing consumers with understandable sorting instructions for (packaging) waste. An actionable product identification symbol which is put on pack by manufacturers and which corresponds to the symbols that are put on waste bags/bins by the waste management operators/municipalities would be an efficient and workable solution for industry, the waste sector and consumers, who would just need to pair the symbols on the packaging with the ones on the waste bag/bin. For the complete picture, check out our short video.
Brands & the Sustainable Development Goals
AIM Activities & Principles: Sustainable Development
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015, provides a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future. At its heart are the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are an urgent call for action by all countries – developed and developing – in a global partnership.
They recognise that ending poverty and other deprivations must go hand-in-hand with strategies that improve health and education, reduce inequality, and spur economic growth – all while tackling climate change and working to preserve our oceans and forests.
As the world’s leading brands, AIM members focus their activities on the UN SDGs. They are in a unique position to promote environmental sustainability, health and well-being of citizens and their communities, and to shape consumer behaviour and choices in line with the SDGs.
They do this by focusing on:
- Innovating to develop and market goods and services that have a more sustainable life cycle.
- Optimising the economic and environmental efficiency as well as the social impact of current products and activities in the supply chain.
- Communicating their efforts on sustainable development based on proven science and in line with EU policy on advertising and claims.
To deliver on their commitments, our members follow the AIM Principles on Sustainable Development.
Eco-Design from a holistic perspective
AIM Publication: AIM Brands’ Eco-Design Brochure
Focusing on eco-design from a holistic point of view represents a strategic part of how brands are integrating circular thinking into their business strategies.
Eco-design for products and packaging have long been a priority for branded goods manufacturers, and at the forefront of many innovative measures taken in recent years.
Eco-design for packaging aims at minimising the environmental impact of the packed product and its packaging over the entire life cycle. It is often associated with the recyclability of packaging, and although this aspect is important for the eco-design concept, eco-design is more than just design for recycling. Thus, AIM’s Eco-Design Model for brands looks at four important elements:
- How Brands optimise their Packaging: innovations in packaging design, reducing/substituting material and the overall weight of packaging, increasing recyclability and recycling, integrating more recycled content in packaging, etc.
- How Brands work along the Supply Chain: AIM-Progress
- How Brands engage Consumers in Sustainability: sustainability information, AIM’s Nudging for Good initiative
- How Brands optimise their Production Processes: sustainable production, reducing greenhouse gas submissions, transferring to renewable energy, etc.
Packaging minimisation at the intersection of sustainability objectives and key packaging functionalities
There is a world behind packaging – where sustainability, innovation, and safety are closely interwoven.
Aware of the incredible power and potential of packaging, AIM Brands have been researching and developing ingenious packaging solutions – where eco-design is championed and material and resource use is minimised – and remain committed to investing for ever optimal packaging. While the reduction of weight and volume can be helpful to meet European objectives, preserving the key functionalities of the packaging remains essential.
The presentation of the product is one of the packaging’s main functionalities, as recognised also by the proposed Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation (PPWR), and appreciated by consumers and businesses alike. However, the introduction of maximum limits to packaging weight and volume could have adverse impacts across the value chain: From facilitating the trade of illicit dangerous goods, to breaking the relationship of trust between consumers and businesses, to stifling creativity.
AIM Brands call on the EU policymakers to uphold the Union’s support to Europe’s innovating entrepreneurship, creative abilities and IP rights, which are all crucial enablers of differentiation and diversity in design. A balanced approach in the definition of minimisation requirements, taking into account both sustainability targets and other key Union’s objectives, remains essential.
Circular Plastics Alliance
The Circular Plastics Alliance, initiated by the European Commission, brings together key industry stakeholders from the complete plastics value chain in order to work together to achieve the target of 10 million tons of recycled plastics in new products on the EU market by 2025, as set out in the European Strategy for Plastics.
AIM has joined the Circular Plastics Alliance and its working group on packaging. This is part of the persisting efforts to tackle plastic pollution, one of the most urgent environmental problems of our society. Brands are determined to work together with the complete value chain in order to find solutions to reduce use of plastics and weight of packaging, to increase the recyclability and recycling of their plastics packaging, as well as to integrate more recycled content in their products. Regarding the latter, AIM members have already come forward with concrete public company commitments and goals. Find out more in our AIM Brands Eco-Design Brochure.
AIM Statement: Climate change
AIM, the European Brands Association, believes that climate change is one of the greatest challenges we face, as society and as businesses.
Tackling the accelerating pace of climate change requires transformational changes to the broader systems in which brands operate.
As brands we are committed to mitigate climate change by reaching the global consumer goods industry’s goal of driving down carbon emissions through innovation in our production processes, our supply chains and our products.
We also need government policies that create the right context for change and business action to advance the goal of the Paris Agreement to limit global temperature rises to 1.5 degrees by the end of the century.
Only by working together with all concerned stakeholders, in full transparency and with a long-term view, can we embrace what we believe to be the essential purpose of corporations: to improve our society, where CEOs are truly committed to meeting the needs of all stakeholders, not only primary shareholders.
AIM brands are committed to sustainable production, focusing, among others, on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, transferring to renewable energy, decreasing their water use, promoting zero waste to landfill, eliminating waste, reducing packaging weight and fostering recyclable packaging and the use of recycled content.
Their latest commitments on greenhouse gas emissions reduction as well as renewable energy are outlined in our Eco-Design Brochure. Furthermore, on an annual basis, our brands report about their achievements and efforts in sustainability reports that can be found in our Sustainability Insights section.
Sustainable consumption – Brands Nudging for Good
AIM Publication: Nudging for Good Factsheet
Through their daily interaction with consumers, branded goods manufacturers are well placed to facilitate change towards more sustainable and healthier consumer choices and lifestyles.
However, there is still a gap between consumer intentions and actual behaviour. In this context, policy-makers, academics and businesses acknowledge that in addition to an appropriate sustainability policy framework for business and society, more work is required on behavioural aspects and specifically, the potential of “nudging” consumers to help them change their consumption habits and lifestyles. A “Nudge for Good” is how a brand, on the basis of consumer insights, makes it easy and desirable for people to change behaviour or habits and adopt a healthier, sustainable or responsible lifestyle. Branded goods manufacturers, with their unique consumer insights, communication and marketing skills, have a key role to play in this debate.
In 2015, AIM launched its initiative Nudging for Good to:
- Provide leadership and encourage emulation of ways to inspire sustainable and healthy consumer behaviour.
- Create and provide accessible knowledge to AIM members and other stakeholders.
- Deliver meaningful contributions to help advance the public debate.
In this context, AIM has developed the Nudging for Good Toolkit, which provides practical guidance for brands on how to create nudges to help people adopt healthier and more sustainable lifestyles. An overview on the Brands Nudging for Good topic can be also found in our Nudging for Good Factsheet.
Additionally, every two years, AIM organises the Brands Nudging for Good Awards in order to promote original brand “Nudges for Good” by AIM corporate and national association members. Building on the success of the first edition of the AIM Nudging for Good Awards in 2017, the 2019 Awards contest focuses on how brands inspire consumers towards mindful, responsible and sustainable consumption. The three Awards themes are Health & Well-being, Environmental Sustainability and Social Responsibility
Responsible Sourcing Initiative – AIM-Progress
AIM-Progress is a forum of leading Fast Moving Consumer Go ods (FMCG) manufacturers and common suppliers, assembled to enable and promote responsible sourcing practices and sustainable supply chains. It is a global initiative supported and sponsored by AIM, the European Brands Association.
The goal of AIM-Progress is to:
Positively impact people’s lives and ensure respect for human rights, while delivering value to our members and their supply chains.
Our members work together to co-create solutions and share best practices to drive positive impact, quickly, efficiently and at scale, within the branded consumer goods supply chain. We abide by applicable anti-trust legislation.
Our key objective is to build capability so that member organisations and their suppliers have the knowledge, confidence and ability to develop and execute robust responsible sourcing programmes.
- We focus on the issues that matter – respect for human rights.
- We aim to drive positive impact through responsible sourcing.
- We prioritise practical action, not just conversation, to create lasting change in global supply chains.
- We believe in collaboration between brands and suppliers (with due respect for anti-trust legislation).
- We believe in building partnerships and networking.
- We collaborate to drive convergence in approaches to responsible sourcing.