Valuing Natural Capital & Assessing Waste Recovery: A Study of Amcor’s Flexible Packaging (2017)

Client Organization: 
Project Location : 
Ann Arbor, MI
Summary of Project Idea: 

Goals & Objectives:
This project has two components for the student team to research:

  • First, students will assess the post-consumer waste and potential recovery of Amcor's flexible packaging for inclusion in Amcor's sustainability assessment, lifecycle analysis, and production.  
  • Second, students will provide a valuation of the natural goods and services Amcor uses to produce its products, identify current risk management approaches to the highest valued goods/services and highlight gaps, with recommendations for how to manage those risks. 

Theoretical Justification, Social Benefit, or Significance:
As one of the largest and most innovative global packaging companies, Amcor has the power and potential to become a thought leader in post-consumer waste recovery and reuse. By providing a roadmap for incorporating post-consumer waste estimates into sustainability assessment reports as well as creating global metrics for potential waste recovery and reuse, we have the ability to help Amcor address negative social and environmental externalities from their operations. Additionally, natural capital risk assessment and valuation is key to controlling overuse, exploitation, and inefficiencies. As Amcor is a leading company, by helping this one company improve, this is an opportunity to help move the packaging industry as a whole.

Specific Activities & Duration:
Research methodologies will include:

  • Desktop research of publicly available information and Amcor’s internal communications
  • Interviews with stakeholders including employees, management, suppliers, customers, and partner organizations such as World Food Programme, Ellen MacArthur Foundation, Ocean Conservancy,
  • and Earthwatch, and industry groups including Sustainable Packaging Coalition and APPR.
  • Life cycle assessment of flexible packaging
  • Natural capital valuation and risk assessment

Integrative Approach:
This research requires both quantitative and qualitative analysis and would benefit from a diverse team with students who have different strengths. The project will benefit from students who have analytical experience as well as students who have strong communication skills.

SEAS Program Areas: 
Conservation Ecology (Aquatic Sciences, Terrestrial Ecosystems, and Conservation Biology)
Environmental Policy and Planning
Behavior, Education, and Communication
Environmental Justice
Sustainable Systems
SEAS Faculty Advisor: 
Ming Xu
Master Students Involved in Project: 
  • Malcom Albin, MS Environmental Policy and Planning
  • Alexis Apostol, MS/MBA Behavior, Education and Communication/Environmental Justice
  • Helen Lee, MS Sustainable Systems
  • Carl Spevacek, MS Conservation Ecology
  • Nikole Vargas, MS/MBA Sustainable Systems
  • Julio Villasenor, MS Sustainable Systems 
Project Status: 
Past Project