AUSPACK 2019 looks at sustainable packaging

Wednesday, 27 March, 2019

AUSPACK 2019 looks at sustainable packaging

Day one of AUSPACK 2019 saw the first of more than 7000 expected visitors and 300 delegates partake in the two events kicking off Packaging and Processing Week: the AUSPACK exhibition, now in its 34th year, and the inaugural AUSPACK 2019 Business and Industry Conference.

Highlights included discussions about sustainability and the latest technologies in Industry 4.0 displayed across what event organisers are describing as the largest AUSPACK floor space ever.

In his keynote address, Dr Michael Okoroafor, Vice President for Global Sustainability and Packaging Innovation at McCormick, laid out what he saw as key insights driving the future of packaging for the FMCG industry. The circular economy is one area of focus for McCormick, and Okoroafor said: “The era of make-use-dispose is over. We’re in the era of make-use-reuse.”

Packaging also needs to shift its focus if it is to be successful in e-commerce, he said, arguing that the current approach taken by packagers is wrong for online sales.

“There is no packaging designed for e-commerce — we take the packaging for brick-and-mortar, insulate it as if it’s a nuclear weapon in a corrugated box and call it e-commerce.

“The time of first moment of truth is over. You have to design for zero moment of truth — if it doesn’t show well in the digital world it’s over. If it shows well, they can buy it right there or go to the store for it,” Okoroafor stated.

With the conference’s theme of ‘Smart. Connected. Sustainable.’, the morning’s sessions revolved around sustainability.

An expert panel suggested there are plenty of opportunities for packagers trying to meet the Australian Government’s 2025 National Packaging Waste Target. Craig Reucassel of The Chaser and War on Waste guided a discussion with Steve Lapidge, CEO of the Fight Food Waste Cooperative; Brooke Donnelly, CEO of the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO); Paul Klymenko, CEO at Planet Ark; and Caitlyn Richards, Responsible Sourcing Manager for Sustainable Products and Packaging at Coles, on how and why packagers should embrace sustainability.

According to Donnelly, consumer pressure on businesses, coupled with external pressure from the global supply chain, has created a “perfect storm” of conditions that have generated momentum for sustainable packaging.

“The conversation is live and active and has great momentum. The issue is corralling everyone with the best of intentions to have a structured and considered approach — you need to plan for how you’ll transition, to avoid perverse outcomes," she said. “Our conversation is no longer about should we do it — it’s about how we do it.”

Richards noted that companies such as Coles need to look closely at their packaging to determine what is necessary and ensure all packaging serves a purpose. She said solutions such as Planet Ark’s PREP tool and the Australian Recycling Label can help make this easier.

While Klymenko said recycled material can be used for different purposes than it was originally, such as glass bottles being used to make silicon chips, Lapidge drew attention to best-before and use-by dates on packaging, saying they needed to be more conservatively applied.

“We need some regulation in this area — often it is just a marketing tool to get more stock rotation. It results in a lot of perfectly good food being thrown out,” Lapidge said.

Lastly, Reucassel noted that more investment is needed in waste management in Australia, particularly in the wake of China’s foreign waste ban. “I kind of expected the China crisis in recycling to lead to more investment in recycling in Australia, and I’m surprised how little there’s been.”

On the AUSPACK show floor, Industry 4.0 user group Open IIoT demonstrated different technologies working together, giving visitors an idea of the benefits of adopting IIoT technologies. The group combines some of Australia’s most prominent automation brands — SMC Corporation, Beckhoff Automation, ZI-Argus, NORD Drivesystems and Balluff.

Anne-Marie Mina, Marketing Director of show organiser Exhibitions & Trade Fairs (ETF), labelled day one of AUSPACK “a fantastic success” and said today will be the final day of the AUSPACK 2019 Business and Industry Conference, which will look at economics, factories of the future, blockchain and workplace diversity. This will be followed by the Gala Awards Ceremony for the APPMA Awards of Excellence, which will announce the winners and APPMA Annual Scholarship recipient.

Held at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, AUSPACK will continue until Friday, 29 March 2019, and Mina encouraged attendees to check out the free 30-minute workshops in the Insights by insignia area during this time.

For more information, and to register for the free exhibition and the NextGen Breakfast Forum, to be held on Friday, 29 March, visit:

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