Future-Forward: Advancing Sustainable Packaging Solutions

The future of sustainable packaging at the Huhtamaki and Emerald workshop. Discover insights, innovations, and collaborative efforts shaping a smarter, circular approach to packaging for a greener future.

Future-Forward: Advancing Sustainable Packaging Solutions

In the early days of December, a congregation of nearly 100 participants, comprising visionary start-ups, investors, and industry experts from around the globe, converged at the joint workshop hosted by Huhtamaki and Emerald Technology Ventures. Titled "The Future of Packaging: How to make packaging better, smarter and more sustainable," the workshop aimed to delve into innovative solutions for achieving packaging circularity.

Discussions during the workshop spanned a diverse array of topics, encompassing innovation in packaging materials, functionality, design, digital connectivity, and business models geared towards supporting consumer behavior conducive to circularity.

The event commenced with a dynamic panel discussion featuring luminaries in packaging manufacturing, venturing, research & development, and consumer goods. Experts shared their insights on the latest developments and challenges in their respective fields. The overarching theme of the discussion centered on the imperative need for systems thinking and innovation across the entire packaging life cycle. This included aspects such as material, technologies, design, and business model innovation, all contributing to the resolution of the complex challenge of packaging circularity. Esteemed panelists included Marina Madanat, Executive Vice President of Strategy and Business Development at Huhtamaki, Ali Harlin, Research Professor at the Technical Research Centre of Finland VTT, Fredrik Petit, Partner at Emerald Technology Ventures, and Bruno Bavet, Vice President of Research & Development at LVMH.

Madanat emphasized the substantial value that packaging provides to contemporary society and the planet, serving as a cornerstone in ensuring accessibility, safety, hygiene, and affordability of food and everyday necessities. Notably, packaging plays a crucial role in addressing the issue of food waste, which contributes to 10 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. The challenge that requires innovative solutions is packaging circularity.

Madanat concluded, expressing the necessity for cross-industry partnerships, visionary start-ups with innovative ideas, and companies like Huhtamaki, committed to driving packaging technology innovation on a global scale.

The packaging industry is experiencing a paradigm shift, a sentiment echoed by all panelists, underscoring the industry's transformation driven by sustainability concerns. Petit acknowledged visible change and movement in packaging companies over the last three years. To bolster packaging innovation, Emerald Ventures initiated a dedicated fund—one of the pioneering venture-backed investment vehicles targeting financing across the full packaging lifecycle.

Emerging trends in materials formed a focal point of discussion, with an emphasis on transitioning from petrol-based materials to recycled, bio- or fiber-based alternatives. Attention also turned to improving packaging functionality, design for end-of-life scenarios, and exploring the digital frontier, including smarter connected packaging, waste analysis, and waste sorting.

The workshop participants engaged in brainstorming sessions, exploring creative solutions for achieving packaging circularity. The discussions delved into innovative materials, packaging functionality, design for circularity, connected packaging, and consumer behavior. It became apparent that realizing smarter and more sustainable packaging necessitates a multifaceted approach, ranging from developing innovative packaging designs to material breakthroughs, implementing systems for data sharing, and incentivizing consumer participation. Material innovation emerged as a prominent solution, with a focus on renewable and biodegradable materials, and packaging with repulpable food-grade barrier coatings.

The enthusiasm in the room was palpable, reflecting a collective commitment to navigating the journey towards a more sustainable future. The event, titled "The Future of Packaging Workshop – How to make packaging better, smarter and more sustainable," was organized as part of Slush, one of the world's largest tech and startup events.


Keywords

Circular innovation , sustainable packaging , materials , design , consumer behavior

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