An exclusive Q&A with Volker Maier, Engineering Director, COTY
1. Your presentation is going to look at the work you have done at COTY to introduce circularity to transport packaging; can you give us a preview of what people will hear about (without giving away too much!)?
My presentation will be about taking responsibility. Responsibility for the sustainable development of our company, our industry, and the natural resources we use.
Sustainable packaging is the key to unlocking huge opportunities here. I will illustrate these opportunities and their tremendous scaling potential at the example of a pilot project we’ve been running at our COTY production plant in Cologne. It’s about achieving zero waste through a combination of new packaging formats, flexible tooling, and circular resources management processes. This alternative transport packing system is highly scalable, industry agnostic, and open for everyone who wants to join.
2. The pandemic has obviously impacted every industry, including the packaging industry:
a. What are some of the most important impacts that you are already seeing?
Despite the economic blow the pandemic has dealt to the entire industry, the high level of interest in alternative, sustainable packaging solutions prevails. COVID19 not only changed consumer behavior. It also changed the mindset of some the leaders in our industry. People want to be more sustainable in their consumption behaviour. The packaging industry is in the position to meet this demand for more sustainability. My case study will show that making a change not only is necessary but sometimes easier than one might think.
b. How do you think consumer attitudes have changed?
Yes, I think so. COVID19 shows us that we are very vulnerable. Speaking about myself, I prefer consuming in a more responsible sustainable manner by considering my CO2 impact. The way we preserve our resources and change our production and consumption patterns defines the future for us and upcoming generations. Therefore, COTY is fully committed to the circular economy to help make the world a little bit better each day.
3. What do you think will be the biggest challenges to packaging sustainability in the next 12-24 months? How do you think the conference agenda addresses these?
This is the time to make a shift to more circular packaging models. This involves avoiding single use plastic wherever possible, using alternative materials instead. The planned tax on non-recycled plastic will help drive this necessary change. I’m sure our customers and consumers will embrace it and appreciate the possibilities this new „normal“ will bring. I see some very interesting presentations on this topic during the conference, I’m looking really forward to them.
4. What do you think will be some of the most interesting advancements in materials or packaging types in the near future?
Innovations in the area of more sustainable packaging formats and coatings. This will allow us to advance in new areas of packaging and fully exploit the benefits of circularity. I’m not only thinking of new formats and materials but also about machines that handle these new materials. Therefore, machine builders also get new business opportunities.
5. What are you most looking forward to about the Sustainability in Packaging Europe Conference? Which other speakers are you most looking forward to hearing from?
The entire agenda looks interesting. Particularly, I’m looking forward to learning about the thoughts and insights industry peers like Henkel (Colin Zenger) or Danone Waters (Philippe Diercxsens) have gained from applying circular processes.