Print21 publisher moderates green packaging panels
Major Italian trade show IPACK-IMA took place in Milan last week, running concurrently with Print4All and the Packaging Speaks Green conference, with Print21 publisher Lindy Hughson moderating two conference sessions, on sustainability.
Packaging Speaks Green is an annual international forum on sustainable packaging that ran across the four days of IPACK-IMA, from 3-6 May. Industry leaders from around the world took to the stage, to share news on initiatives championing packaging sustainability across various industry sectors.
Print21 and PKN publisher Lindy Hughson moderated two sessions at the conference. The first focused on sustainability in the pharmaceutical and cosmetics sector, the second on save food and communities.
“In the health and wellness arena, consumers are not only looking for products that are good for their health, and meet their lifestyle aspirations, they’re looking for products that are also good for the planet – and importantly, they’re seeking out brands that align with their eco-values. They expect brand owners to step up and deliver on sustainability transparently, and without greenwash,” Hughson said.
During the session, World Packaging Organisation president, and fellow Australian, Prof Pierre Pienaar, highlighted the current ocean plastic waste problem with hard-hitting images that reinforced the problem the audience was all too aware of, particularly with expanded polystyrene (EPS) which is commonly used for insulated shipping of pharmaceuticals. He said that there are currently sustainable packaging solutions available for 70 per cent of pharmaceutical products on the market, and urged the industry to make the switch sooner, as “there is no time to waste”.
Arwen Imperatori from cosmetics company Ancorotti Cosmetics, said the company had looked beyond just make sustainable packaging materials choices to focusing on building fully sustainable manufacturing plant on a brownfields site – taking reuse to a new level.
Adriano Pietrosanto, from Italian pharmaceutical industry association Egualia, gave a run-down on the rules and regulations that are changing in the EU, which will see pharmaceutical manufacturers adopt a greener approach in the manufacturing and use of medicines.
Another speaker to highlight the plastic waste problem especially for impoverished communities in developing countries, was the dynamic David Katz from Canada, the founder of Plastic Bank.
Katz, pointed out that when you’re concerned about whether you can feed your family on any given day, the last thing you’re thinking about is whether the plastic container you’re using will end up in the correct recycling stream.
Katz said, “Eighty per cent of the plastic entering the marine ecosystem is coming from areas of poverty.”
Without diminishing the efforts of Ocean clean-up projects, Katz said they’re simply skimming the tip of the iceberg.
“There is a garbage truck of plastic entering the ocean every minute, more than 40,000 kilograms… we have to turn off the tap of this plastic waste flow at the source.”
In 2017 Katz came up with the idea for Plastic Bank, which gives plastic waste in communities globally, has given plastic waste a monetary value, and is a means to “beat plastic pollution, alleviate poverty and develop regenerative communities”, where locals don’t see the material as waste, but as money.
Today, Plastic Bank is a global chain of 500-plus stores, where plastic waste is given a value by mass and people can use it as a form of payment for goods. The more you collect the more you can exchange. The concept has been taken a step further since inception, and in Katz’s words, Plastic Bank has “created a blockchain-based banking application” which empowers people to “earn credit worthiness” and is “changing the paradigm of plastic waste”, creating the space for everyone to look at the material differently.
Katz said Plastic Bank is working with some of the world’s most progressive companies, like Henkel, who are “choosing to stand on the right side of history” and using the material collected as feedstock in plastics recycling and remanufacturing.
Hughson said that all the speakers were inspirational, providing food for thought on taking immediate action on sustainability, while also bringing hope with news on positive projects that are underway.
Other presenters in the Save Food and Communities Sustainability session included Rosse Rolle from the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation, Dina Fortunato from United Nations Industrial Development Organisation, Yamilin Gonzalez Milian, vice minister of Industry Cuba, and Richard Swannell of Wrap, the UK climate action NGO.