Greiner Packaging held its Innovation Day at its Packworld site in Oberwaltersdorf, near Baden bei Wien, Austria. Moderated by Daniel Cronin, the event brought together nearly 100 delegates from 11 countries who attended six presentations given by industry experts and took part in lively interactive panel discussions. After two years of the pandemic, everyone especially appreciated the physical networking opportunity at Packworld.
Ambidextrous leadership sought
Greiner Packaging CEO Manfred Stanek opened the Innovation Day with a presentation titled: Ambidextrous Leadership Wanted – Companies Caught Between Managing Global Crises and Transforming the Packaging Industry.
“I want to talk about how we at Greiner Packaging adapted our leadership and demonstrated ambidexterity by doing two things in parallel: managing performance and dealing with all the difficulties we encountered in the supply chain. supply ; while managing the transformation of our entire industry.
He described the large number of unprecedented events of the last 12 to 14 months and said that in his more than 20 years of activity he had not encountered so many challenges at the same time – shortages of materials, massively high inflation, the current Corona crisis and the war in Ukraine.
“At the same time, we are leading the transformation towards a circular economy, improving our carbon footprint and tackling the climate crisis as best we can,” he said. “So the question for us was, and remains, ‘how can we do both things simultaneously?’
“Leadership actually comes from innovation, and innovation management has helped us find concepts that allow us to do two things at the same time.”
Sustainability as Managed Change
The next speaker was Fred Luks, economist, sustainability researcher and publicist. He spoke of “sustainability as managed change, about innovation, transformation and responsibility”.
He started by describing the various different interpretations of sustainability and talked about the need to balance three dimensions: economics; ecology; and social issues, before discussing the links between the overall goal of societal transformation towards sustainability and the challenge for businesses to live up to this agenda. He underlined the crucial role that innovation and culture must play in this process.
“From a business perspective, there are two valuable things. Externally, it is changing markets and customer preferences, including environmentally conscious people. On the other hand, there is a profound change in the conditions under which you do business in relation to sustainability, because at state, European or international level there are changes in the framework conditions and legislation. Internally, you need strategies and plans, and you need reports. However, without changing the corporate culture, you won’t get anywhere. Changing the corporate culture is absolutely crucial to creating a dynamic of sustainable development in a company.
The future of plastics under the European Green Deal
The third speaker was Helmut Maurer, principal administrator and senior expert at the European Commission’s DG Environment, since 2016 in charge of chemistry and the circular economy.
He spoke about the future of plastics under the European Green Deal in which the European Commission outlined its ambitions for climate neutrality as well as how to achieve sustainable growth while respecting planetary boundaries.
He then looked at the real issues, from overproduction to definitions of recycling, and the actual rates achieved. He then mentioned the introduction of the eco-design regulation for sustainable products, including the development of a product passport – which includes packaging – and which will create better transparency.
“We will see the Green Deal executed in one or two years, and in five years the evaluations will find that we have not achieved anything tangible and that we have to do something new.
“Plastic as a material has a short past and will have a very long future, provided that we fully exploit all the potential that the material can have if we use it more wisely. And if we are ready to accept economic models that lead us to a future in which we consume less, but use the material we create much better,” Helmut Maurer concluded.
Transformation of the packaging industry towards a circular economy
Opening the afternoon sessions was Anton Wolfsberger, Borealis Director of Strategic Polyolefin Business Projects. He discussed the transformation of the packaging industry towards a circular economy, looking at trends and challenges from a PO manufacturer’s perspective.
“Market dynamics are changing rapidly across the packaging value chain,” he said. “We are driven by the consumer, who no longer looks away and knows what is going on, so brand owners need to deliver on brand promises. Meanwhile, traders fight for their image and shares and also set the pace, while NGOs amplify visibility and set the frameworks. Next comes legislation and industry promises that drive the transformation to a circular economy.
He explained how Borealis had expanded its portfolio with circular PO solutions to address the challenges of plastic waste and climate change, before comparing the traditional value chain versus demand PO, with the recycling value chain. in relation to the r-PO opportunity, saying, “The circular economy is distinctly impacting the current packaging value chain, with new entrants and new raw materials driving power shifts.”
In conclusion, he said, “Circular innovation along the packaging value chain will be most important to bring about incremental changes to achieve the highest circularity, and to master all these circular challenges. , new collaborative business models across the packaging value chain will be needed.
The state of net zero – how to accelerate the transition to a low carbon economy
The penultimate speaker was Head of ESG Solutions Northern Europe for S&P Global Sustainable 1, Sören Stöber, who discussed the state of net zero and how to accelerate the transition to a low carbon economy. carbon.
“Net zero refers to a state in which greenhouse gases entering the atmosphere are balanced by their removal from the atmosphere,” he said. “And the ‘net’ in net zero is important because getting all emissions down to zero on the timescale we have is going to be very difficult.”
“128 countries have adopted some form of net zero commitment,” he said. “Whether as a proposal, declared policy or national law – and following COP26, more than $130 trillion in private capital is now committed to support the economic transition to net zero. More than 5,000 companies worldwide have published long-term net zero goals.
“After a year of the United Nations warning that the world faces a code red for humanity, progress by the world’s largest companies to achieve net zero emissions remains slow. As investors accelerate their own net zero strategies, companies must be more proactive and transparent in how they imagine climate risks and opportunities. So measuring emissions across the business, setting strong targets, and reporting those climate-related risks will put companies on the right path to net zero.
Future-scape – food, transformation and belonging
The final session was presented by food futurologist, Dr Morgaine Gaye, whose presentation was titled: “Future-scape – food, transformation and belonging, examining the key driving forces that continue to shape people’s aspirations and consumer behavior”.
“As for 2025, I’ve chosen the theme of ‘be(longing)s’,” she said. “The word has a lot of meaning. We all have too many possessions and we are entering a time when we are going to have things that no one else wants. But we also talked about a “new normal” – wanting to go back to how things were – but there is also a desire for a different kind of future.
“March 2023 will be the first point since 2020, where we will have the opportunity to really take stock and look back on what has happened over the last three years. And then we will come to 2025 where we will start to understand really where we are and what this new future looks like.
In her very visual presentation, Morgaine Gaye then spoke about the changes we should expect in the future, from “products with a purpose” and “less is better”, to “mono-materials” and “waste is the wealth”. From texture to more natural design to 3D printing, she showed many examples of foods that already exist, but are clues for the future.
“People want to feel good about their choices, and consumers are willing to pay a little more to know they’re actually making a difference.”
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