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The world's most prestigious competition for sustainable packaging innovation is back! This year's edition, which culminates at the Sustainable Packaging Summit on 29th September at FachPack in Nuremberg, Germany, unveils a new category, focusing on the best sustainable innovation for e-commerce. 

The Sustainability Awards is accepting submissions from 25th January to 24th March 2021, and once again seeks the most significant and impactful sustainable packaging innovations and initiatives from all over the world.

New for 2021 

Having added the 'Pre-Commercialized' category in 2020, the Sustainability Awards competition is again expanding with the addition of a new 'E-commerce' category this year.

"We have observed the growing importance of the e-commerce channel over a number of years, and with it the emergence of new packaging sustainability challenges to meet the demands of a fundamentally different supply chain," commented Tim Sykes (Packaging Europe's brand director). "Since the Covid-19 pandemic we've seen this trend accelerate exponentially, elevating e-commerce to the top of the agenda and making demand for environmentally beneficial innovation for this channel all the more urgent. We therefore believe now is the right time to shine a Sustainability Awards spotlight on this topic."

The full list of categories open for submissions is:

  • Bio-Based Packaging
  • Resource Efficiency
  • Driving the Circular Economy
  • Recyclable Packaging
  • Machinery
  • Best Practice
  • Pre-Commercialized Innovation 
  • E-Commerce

In addition, an overall winner will be chosen as 'Best Sustainable Packaging Innovation' from among the commercialized packaging innovations that emerge as winners of the other categories. This year will also see the return of the Readers' Award, parallel to the main competition, nominated and voted for by the international readership of Packaging Europe.

One other development for the 2021 awards is that, in response to demand, the maximum number of submissions per organisation has been raised from three to five entries.

Sustainable Packaging Summit

The Sustainability Awards 2021 winners will be revealed at an awards ceremony and after-party at the Sustainable Packaging Summit, taking place at FachPack, Nuremberg, Germany on 29-30 September 2021. A 'summit' rather than a 'conference', the event will break familiar paradigms with a sharp focus on practical discussion that moves stakeholders forward on key sustainability dilemmas. Key pillars of the summit will consist in defining sustainability objectives (in relation to packaging waste and the climate crisis); how to overcome challenges as a value chain; and spotlighting new ideas and technologies - not least as spotlighted by the finalists of the Sustainability Awards. 


Having brought together a community of 3500 professionals for last year's (inevitably) virtual summit, the event at FachPack 2021 will be a welcome return to face-to-face discussion after a prolonged and challenging period when collaboration had to be remote. However, 2020 taught us a lot about the potential of what can by achieved within a digital community. As a result, the 2021 Sustainable Packaging Summit will be a hybrid physical event and year-round virtual platform. Those interested in joining the discussion and networking with delegates and speakers can register to watch previous panel discussions and take part in upcoming ones via the event platform.

Previous speakers include Kim Houchens (Amazon), Tom Szaky (TerraCycle), Gian De Belder (P&G), Louis Lindenberg (Unilever), Archana Jagannathan (PepsiCo), and Hans Van Bochove (Coca-Cola), in addition to Summit partners such as CEFLEX, NVC, Petcore, PCEP and the Sustainable Packaging Coalition. 

About the Sustainability Awards

While the Sustainability Awards evolves and grows year on year, it's core principles of objectivity, rigour, and universality have not changed. The initiative aims to challenge the FMCG / packaging value chain to make an honest and joined-up response to the crises in packaging waste, the climate change and other environmental impacts. The categories and judging criteria are designed to promote a holistic and evidence-based view of sustainable packaging innovation.

“The most serious, rigorous and prestigious global competition for sustainability in packaging”

Judging is carried out independently by a global jury of acknowledged experts representing the whole value chain and sustainability experts. Each year the Sustainability Awards welcomes back many of its old judges and adds some more experts. Among the first-time judges we're delighted to welcome in 2021 are Louis Lindenberg (Unilever's global packaging sustainability director), Aslıhan Arıkan (Turkish Packaging Manufacturers Association), Niels van Marle (KIDV), Clem Ugorji (World Economic Forum Workstream Leader, Accelerating the Circular Plastics Economy, Africa), Alexandre Guyon (Veolia), Dana Mosora (ASASE), Colin Yates (Mars) and Valentin Fournel (CITEO).

As ever, the Sustainability Awards is free to enter, and treats the smallest start-ups just the same as the largest multi-nationals. This approach has seen submissions grow rapidly each year, both in absolute numbers and in geographical and technological diversity. 

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Thanks to quality of the judging, transparency of the process and international engagement on the part of the whole value chain, the Sustainability Awards has become the most serious and impactful initiative of its type. Claiming the famous glass trophy has become the pinnacle of many careers in packaging innovation.

In brief:

  • Submissions: submit online via the competition portal before the end of 24th March 2021. No charge to enter. 
  • Finalists will be announced on 17th May 2021. Winners will be announced at the Sustainable Packaging Summit (FachPack, Nuremberg, Germany) on 29-30th October 2021.
  • Visit theSustainabilityAwards.com for full details, rules and submissions