Innovations and the Latest Thinking in Sustainable Packaging

In the latest episode of NothingWasted! you will like The Package Deal: Innovations and the Latest Thinking in Sustainable Packaging.

The discussion focused on how businesses, consumers and the waste and recycling industry continue to grapple with major packaging issues and concerns every day. Therefore, the need to implement sustainable – and creative – solutions is increasing.

Panelists discussed the latest thinking and innovations in the field, including the role of blockchain and waste-to-crude; how Uber-style recycling companies are filling the gaps in communities; how plastic continues to fit into the puzzle; and why shifting the responsibility for packaging onto the consumer is not a good idea.

The panellists were: Cory Connors, Sustainable Packaging Consultant at Landsberg; Evelio Mattos, Sustainable Structural Packaging Designer and Moderator of Package Design Unboxd, and Adam Peek, SVP, Sales at Meyers. The session was moderated by Jonathan Quinn from Pregis.

Here is a little insight into the conversation:

Q: What key trends do you see in sustainable packaging and why do you think it is sustainable?

Mattos: What I see from brands is a lot of discussion about carbon neutrality or being able to showcase how much CO2 went into making a package. This is the early phase, but much of it is tied to 2025 and that’s what emerging brands are focusing on. [Hand in hand with that] is consumer education.

Connors: I think today’s fevered goal is [reducing the amount of excess packaging that is being used]. Nike just announced their one box program, so instead of sending you two boxes with your shoes, they send you one box – and it was 50 million tons or something ridiculous, the amount being pulled from the system or unnecessary be used. One company, one idea, a 50% reduction in corrugated. That’s the kind of thing we’d like to see more of, and I think we’re going to see more of it. It can be simple things that save businesses and consumers money, [in addition to the reduction in corrugated].

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Peek: The innovation, from my point of view, the availability of materials has become an interesting innovation topic. The supply chain crisis is very real. We try to maintain availability of materials to keep shelves stocked.

Q: How do we improve the flexible packaging recycling stream?

Mattos: I’m on the design side, away from plastic and towards paper. But when we look at the cost of moving from plastics to paper and the value that plastics can bring in different areas, you think, “Okay, there’s a lot of scope for these two materials.” But consumers are facing up to recycling and waste in a way we know isn’t real: “I take my flexible films to the grocery store and they make them into Trex.” But the loop isn’t that simple. We can help brands move to mono materials and encourage the processing that handles some of these more complex things.

Connors: Make it so the consumer understands the options after using a product. If we don’t tell them how to do it, they never will. And if we don’t incentivize them why, they won’t. Hopefully there will be a national deposit system at some point.

Peek: My answer is, “Just be honest.” The other day I had a coffee bag that said “60% compostable, 40% polyethylene.” That means 0% compostable; what are you trying to do here? Stop pretending you are something you are not. We need to be clear and honest in our communication about packaging and we need to be clear in this industry when selling to customers.

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The session ended with a question and answer session from the audience. Hear the full recording here.

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