A single DVD-size case doesn't use very much plastic, but plastic use quickly adds up for successful games, over the lifetime of popular franchises, and across the entire video game industry. Sports Interactive estimates that it will save up to 20 metric tons of plastic in one year by switching to recycled paper packaging just for Football Manager 2020, and are encouraging other companies to follow suit.
The new packaging devised for Football Manager 2020 is made from 100% recycled cardboard and comes shrink-wrapped in low density polyethylene plastic. The paper case itself should be recyclable in most any region (the inks used are water and vegetable based), the shrink wrap should be recyclable at select facilities, and Sports Interactive will provide a list of disc recycling centers on the Football Manager 2020 website.
Speaking with our sister site GamesIndustry.biz, Sports Interactive studio director Miles Jacobson says the developer would be "stupid not to do it" considering the difference in environmental impact between paper and plastic packaging. "If anyone from other games or entertainment companies is reading this," says Jacboson, "you'd be stupid not to do it too."
In the interest of expanding the adoption of this packaging, the official announcement from Jacobson also specifies the materials used and providers that Sports Interactive and publisher Sega have partnered with.
Arsenal player and environmental activist Héctor Bellerín joins Jacobson in a video that shows off the new Football Manager 2020 packaging while connecting the issue of plastic use to climate change. Jacobson acknowledges that the new packaging is "about 30% more expensive," before adding "we don't care." Since the packaging is close to the size of a standard case while being lighter and comparably sturdy, Jacobson says there could be savings in terms of fuel cost and emissions for transporting the copies. Towards the end of the video, Bellerín rebukes companies that opt for maintaining plastic use and carbon emissions for the sake of keeping costs low, saying "if there's no Earth, there's no money to spend."
Plastic usage has a greater environmental cost than the proliferation of waste plastic alone. A report published by the Center for International Environmental Law earlier this year estimated that this year's emissions resulting from plastic production will equal the pollution of close to 200 coal-fired 500-megawatt power plants, with the equivalency projected to climb over the next few decades.
Jacobson closes out his announcement by encouraging industry decision makers to act quickly. "We can help at least slow down climate change, but we have to act now," he writes. "This IS a climate emergency" (emphasis Jacobson's). While individual consumers do have a role to play in changing their consumption patterns to curb climate change, actions taken at an industry-wide level are a more efficient path to achieving significant and easily measurable goals concerning pollution.