Interview with Gerald Rebitzer from Amcor

Gerald Rebitzer, Sustainability Director, Amcor Flexibles on the key benefits of attending Sustainability In Packaging Europe 2016

How will Sustainability in Packaging benefit attendees?

The Sustainability in Packaging conference will showcase the state of the art in packaging sustainability from all perspectives of the value chain. Attendees will learn from material producers, packaging manufacturers, packaging users including brand owners and retailers, as well as recyclers, how to best address the challenges and opportunities of the industry. This is specifically relevant, since optimal solutions can only be found if several, if not all, actors in a value chain work together. 

How do you foresee the future of packaging sustainability over the next 3 years? 

From the marketplace we see an increasing emphasis on all aspects of packaging sustainability, from sourcing to operations and packaging use, to recycling and recovery. While on the regulatory side there is currently a big focus on the recycling and recovery elements of the circular economy concept, we expect to see a more balanced approach in the future that looks on overall resource efficiency and taking the impacts of the complete packaging-product system into account. This will also include a wider view, e.g. by addressing the role of smarter packaging in reducing food waste. Novel material combinations for high-barrier applications and improved sorting and recycling processes are other trends to watch.

Why should delegates attend Sustainability in Packaging and what are the top 3 over riding takeaways they will receive

As mentioned above attendees will benefit from a one-stop shop for all elements of the value chain. I expect participants to take away know-how of leading industry practices, enhanced knowledge of emerging trends and technologies as well as an extended network.

As the chair, what are you looking forward to by attending Sustainability in Packaging

I am looking forward to hearing from industry leaders and having productive and maybe even controversial discussions around the hot topics of sustainability and circular economy. Such discussions are necessary to get to the roots of the challenges and find better and future proof solutions. 

What are the top 3 challenges surrounding the circular economy and packaging sustainability and how do you think this conference can overcome them?

The top challenge is that perceptions of consumers and sometimes even policymakers are often not aligned with scientific facts. It is up to the industry to bring these facts to the table and show the pros and cons of different options. It needs to be avoided that well intentioned regulations are introduced that lead to unintended consequences and additional environmental impacts. Other challenges that need to be addressed are finding viable recycling and recovery routes for materials that are currently not widely recovered and issues around marine littering that need the attention of the complete industry and society as a whole.

Who’s sessions/speaker are you most looking forward to hearing and why?

Personally I am most interested in the session by retailers and brand owners, since they have the insights from the consumer perspective and since they are often in the driver seat when it comes to sustainability in packaging. I am looking forward to hearing how the other actors in the value chain can better connect to brand owners and retailers to deliver the next steps in the evolution of the sustainability agenda for packaging.

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