November 20, 2019
A Recap of SPC’s Energizing New Conference to Help Companies Meet Their Sustainable Packaging Goals
The Sustainable Packaging Coalition saw the launch of its inaugural European event, SPC Engage London, on October 23-24. As a compliment to other SPC events, the new SPC Engage event focuses on a group exploration of a common theme and uses a workshop format. SPC Engage London focused on the theme of “activating corporate sustainable packaging goals”. With the backdrop of The Design Museum, which featured a special exhibit on single-use plastic packaging in airlines and a permanent exhibit on user-centric design, the environment was intended to inspire attendees and set a tone of creative problem solving.
The Design Museum
The conference began with setting the scene:
- What is driving so many companies to set sustainable packaging goals?
- What are the different legal and voluntary frameworks that are shaping collective and individual company goals?
- What are companies doing on the ground to actually implement these goals in their organizations?
On day one, we heard from a series of presenters and panelists on these topics, including insights from INCPEN and EUROPEN on the rapidly changing policies across the EU, a sneak peak of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation New Plastic Economy’s new 2019 progress report, a lively panel on the role of retailers in driving and influencing sustainable packaging goals, and a first-ever discussion between major world on-package recycling labeling systems, the UK’s OPRL, the US’s How2Recycle, and Europe’s GreenDot Program.
On day two , participants explored the types and categories of goals that companies are making during two Deep Dive sessions on Responsible Sourcing and Optimization and Effective Recovery, with presentations featuring SPC staff expertise and panels of brands including for example Lego, Pepsi, Nestle, and P&G, as well as suppliers like NatureWorks, Asia Pulp & Paper and Klockner Pentaplast, and recyclers like Enval. During two roundtable workshop sessions, participants got to dive deeper into a specific goal area of interest to explore challenges, opportunities and inspirations, working with their industry peers to define pathways forward to implement their goals.
Throughout the two days, participants used their SPC Engage Workbooks, which provided key points and summaries on topics covered and space to take notes in each session, as well as design thinking activities integrated throughout that challenged companies to evaluate their own goals and make the SPC Engage experience their own.
Engage SPC Day Two. Picture: Danny Loo
Some key themes emerged:
- the importance of finding harmonized approaches in legislation,
- the rising importance of transparency with publicly communicated progress,
- acknowledgement that the market is in reactive mode in response to plastic pollution and that it is critically important not to lose sight of climate change as our north star
- to avoid making unfortunate substitutions that lead to unintentional tradeoffs.
Participants joined us from the UK, continental Europe and the U.S. SPC Engage London was – in the British sense – a smashing success, leaving participants motivated, energized, and empowered. We look forward to the upcoming SPC Engage Montreal and next year’s SPC Engage event in Europe.
Engage SPC Day 2. Picture: Danny Loo