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Interview with WestRock

Ahead of the upcoming Sustainability in Packaging Asia conference, we caught up with Quentin Yan, Sr. Manager/Director, Consumer Packaging Strategic Marketing of WestRock. He gave us a sneak peek of what we can expect from his presentation on day two, taking place during our 'Sustainability Through Whole Supply Chain' session.
 
Current Industry Focus:

Q. As consumers/end users continually push for more sustainable/greener solutions, what do you think is the biggest concern regarding packaging?

According to WestRock Sustainable Packaging Insight Study in 2019, we know that consumers are most concerned about the ocean plastic pollution and landfill waste when it comes to environmental issues with packaging.

Q. What are some of the biggest opportunities gaining attention within the packaging industry? How has your company chosen to react/adapt to stay on trend?

The biggest opportunities within the packaging industry exist in packaging alternatives that are renewable and recyclable. As a global leader of fiber-based packaging solutions, WestRock is well positioned to take these opportunities by working with our partners to drive sustainable packaging through innovation.
 
Future Focus:

Q. What industry topics are getting the most attention at this time? How are these factors influencing the future of packaging?

Consumer expectations for sustainability are driving pointed conversation about what is needed to ensure that product packaging is right-sized to eliminate waste, made from renewable resources, and recyclable for material re-use.  We believe these consumer demands will drive the future of packaging towards zero waste in a circular economy.

Q. What does your company/organization hope to achieve over the next 5 years with regards to the future of packaging industry?

As sustainability demands have evolved, we are in the process of updating our sustainability goals to focus on the changing needs of our customers and our communities. We view sustainability as a business imperative - for WestRock, our industry and our customers. We are striving for continual improvement and partnering with our customers to help them meet their sustainability goals.

Q. What recommendations do you have for packaging professionals starting new sustainability initiatives?

While sustainability is about reducing impact on the environment, we also think it’s about considering and accelerating transition to the circular economy which the UK-based NGO, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, describes as a multifaceted approach with a focus on embracing sustainable design, using regenerative materials and collecting end-of-life products for continuous use in the economy.

Q. How do you expect to see the recycling infrastructure change in Asia in the next few years?

Government policies and regulations promoting recycling as well as industry collaboration throughout the supply chains working together to improve the recycling infrastructure and accelerate the rate of recycling in the next few years.
 
Conference Related:

Q. Your presentation at this year’s Sustainability in Packaging Asia will cover ‘Case study of sustainability and innovation in packaging’. Why is it important for others in your industry to hear this message? What are some of the key take-aways?

Driving sustainable packaging through innovation means developing new ways to connect people to products -- packaging that enhances relationships between brands and their customers, and minimizes environmental impact in parallel.  We will share how we explore ways to advance the functionality and sustainability of fiber-based packaging, and highlight partnerships that prove we can accelerate sustainable packaging to serve brands, consumers and the environment — together.

Q. Which presentations (what session topic) are you most looking forward to hearing about at Sustainability in Packaging Asia? 

The session of “Sustainable Packaging – Brands & Retailers Perspectives”.