Submitted by: The Two Sides Team December 4, 2019
Edwin Goffard, COO of Smurfit Kappa Corrugated Europe, explains why the international packaging company created its Better Planet Packaging initiative.
What prompted Smurfit Kappa to start the Better Planet Packaging initiative?
Smurfit Kappa has existed since the 1930s and we have always been pushing hard for sustainability in our agenda. But over the last couple of years, consumers have started to become more aware of single-use plastic in the environment and plastic used in packaging. It seems absurd that packaging can live on for three or four hundred years for a consumer experience that lasts only a few minutes. So, as there’s a lot more interest in the sustainability agenda, we created Better Planet Packaging and bundled all our efforts into a single initiative.
Why is paper and board ideal for sustainable packaging?
First of all the fibre comes from a renewable source then goes through the system in a very circular way. Paper-based packaging has the highest recycling rate of all packaging material, as well as the advantage of being biodegradable. If you had a piece of paper and were to drop it in a forest it would actually disappear quicker than a leaf. If a small amount of paper leaves the recycling stream it’s not a disaster for the environment because it will naturally biodegrade within months.
What are the key elements of Better Planet Packaging?
The goal of BPP is to help make packaging waste extinct. There are a number of key pillars to do this including education, design, innovation and partnerships. For example, two key activities were the Design Challenge and the Innovation Conference. There was a huge amount of interest in both activities and some interesting ideas came out of the Design Challenge, such as thermal protection for e-commerce shipment and pallet wrapping material that wasn’t plastic.
How popular was the conference?
We had over 350 customers join us to talk about Better Planet Packaging, and Steve Backshall gave a speech on why nature needs our help. A lot of customers also came up to us and said this is exactly what we they are trying to achieve and asking what we can do for them.
What do you personally get out of the Better Planet Packaging initiative?
We don’t really consider it a project. The initiative has become part of us. There’s a pride that really resonates from everyone in the organisation that we are helping the world move towards a more sustainable future. Of course, we can only add so much, but it’s clear that Better Planet Packaging has resonated very well, not only externally but internally.
— For more information about Smurfit Kappa Better Planet Packaging, go to www.smurfitkappa.com/ sustainability/better-planet-packaging