Director of Sustainability
Caroline James is the Director of Sustainability at Atlantic Packaging. In her role, she helps myriad customers reassess their current secondary and tertiary B2B and B2C packaging and seek truly circular packaging solutions. She provides insights to Atlantic leadership and customers about issues such as recyclability, compostability, sustainable forestry, packaging EPR, and life cycle assessment. She also supports Atlantic’s initiative, A New Earth Project, with sustainability expertise to improve the outdoor industry’s B2C packaging and to rid the world’s waters of plastic pollution. Prior to Atlantic, Caroline was a federal government consultant at Deloitte Consulting in Washington, DC, where she served the intelligence community and the US Agency for International Development (USAID) both in Mozambique and in the US. While at Deloitte, she founded the DC Sustainability Community of Practice and Engagement, the firm’s “green team” in the region. Caroline completed her MBA at the Yale School of Management, where she also focused on industrial ecology and life cycle assessment at the Yale School of the Environment. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Government and Environmental Studies from Georgetown University. A native Atlantan, Caroline now lives in Charlotte with her fiancé Charles.
Why do you want to serve on the Executive Committee?
As I transitioned into a career in sustainable packaging, SPC has been an incredible resource to me – having contacts like Olga, Megan, Laura, and Tom has been invaluable as I’ve had questions that were out of my depth, and SPC’s events always have relevant, nuanced sessions that help bring together those of us who work on these issues day to day. SPC’s publications and educational tools such as the Essentials of Sustainable Packaging have given me tangible and easy-to-understand research I can point my customers to and deepen my understanding. Additionally, SPC’s collaboratives and in-depth knowledge has broadened into larger initiatives, such as How2Recycle and the Recycled Material Standard (RMS). It’s remarkable that a SPC collaborative has turned into the most-used on-package recycling labeling system in the form of How2Recycle, and I see so much potential for our members’ collective power to converge into other high-impact initiatives as well. In my capacity as a member, I’ve been a cheerleader for SPC for the last two years, encouraging other companies to join and pointing them towards useful resources. I want to ensure that all members gain as much value from SPC as I have, and as a member of the Executive Committee, I can formally serve as an ambassador for this organization that has given me and Atlantic Packaging so much. Additionally, I am excited to help SPC initiatives deepen their impact by lending a packaging company’s point of view to SPC’s strategy.
What do you think you would contribute as an Executive Committee representative?
As the Director of Sustainability at Atlantic Packaging, I spend each day helping customers navigate the competing priorities between business needs and sustainability in their packaging. My educational background is in both business and industrial ecology, the science behind the circular economy, so I understand the driving pressures that often make member companies feel stuck balancing their goals in each. I can bring both my industry/business expertise and my sustainability background to the EC to make its initiatives as relevant to both as possible. Additionally, Atlantic Packaging exists in the middle of the packaging supply chain between manufacturers, converters, brands, and consumers, and my time here has given me experience in convening this broad array of stakeholders on sustainable packaging projects. I love bringing people together with different expertise to achieve sustainability improvements, and as an EC representative, I’d have a more formal role as connective tissue between the myriad stakeholders SPC represents. Lastly, I’m energized by the number of younger members I’ve seen at SPC events, and I’m hoping to bring my perspective as a younger Millennial to the table as an EC representative. Millennials and Gen Z are such a strong contingent of today’s sustainability professionals (not to mention consumers!), and I think it’s critical that we are represented in among the packaging industry’s leading companies in SPC.