Platform “Packaging with Future” – What’s That?

The best solution for products, consumers and for our environment is where dedicated companies are working on, focused on the total environmental footprint of each packaging. The big question is: How?

In Austria, seven companies from the entire packaging value chain have founded the “Verpackung mit Zukunft” (German for Packaging with Future) platform. Greiner, Alpla Group, Coca-Cola Austria, Nestlé Austria, Interseroh Austria, Engel Austria and Erema Group announced the founding of the “Packaging with Future” in a virtual press conference with 60 participants on May 5, 2020. Together, the companies employ more than 40,000 people worldwide and generate sales of more than EUR 9 billion. All members of the platform are convinced that a resource-saving use of packaging is possible and an important step for a sustainable future.

So, the “Packaging with Future” platform consists of committed companies along the packaging value chain who want to make a difference – working together as one unit on the big picture. That’s why all partners  are working hand in hand – whether they are involved in the production, use or recycling of packaging.

Plan, Vision & Goal

They have one demand in common: The discussion about packaging should become more open and fact-based. They are also keen to stress that no packaging material is better or worse than another. To convey this, educational work is necessary, which is the purpose of the platform advocating that packaging is not waste, but made from valuable raw materials that must be returned to the cycle in order to have a major impact.

“Our foundation took place at the end of 2019 and now we are launching publicly visible. We are sure that together we can achieve more to bring objectivity into the packaging discussion. It’s not about avoiding plastic, it’s about avoiding plastic waste.”

says Axel Kühner, CEO of Greiner AG, Upper Austrian global player in the plastics and foam industry.

“The four cornerstones of a functioning circular economy Reduce, Replace, Reuse and Recycle are already being implemented by the members of the platform in many areas. Together, however, we can drive innovation even further. We want to position Austria as a showcase country in terms of sustainability in packaging and be a role model for this.”

says Günther Lehner, CEO of the Vorarlberg-based Alpla Group, a global specialist in plastic packaging and recycling.

“In the current crisis, important properties of packaging – transport protection, longer shelf life of food and the hygiene factor – became clearly visible. Plastic packaging generally and especially in times like these has the factual argument on its side – it would be good if it was the same afterwards.”

Angela Teml, Head of Corporate Communications at Nestlé Austria, points out.

It is important to us to realize the vision of effective collection, separation and recycling and a functioning circular economy. Europe is moving forward with ambitious targets. For example, by 2030, all plastic packaging should be reusable or recyclable. To achieve this, technologies and approaches – such as those that already exist in Austria – must be used and intensively developed further. This is the only way to serve as a global model for success.

Dialogue With Politics

The members of the “Packaging with Future” platform also share concrete concerns that they aim to discuss with politicians. Among other things, they stand up for the introduction of uniform collection systems – especially for the yellow bag (in some European countries, this is an established method of collecting plastic waste) – improving the infrastructure in the areas of separation, collection, sorting and recycling, or simply promoting packaging solutions that are 100 percent reusable or recyclable.

What About Startups?

Apart from the already established partners,  startups along the packaging value chain are also addressed with “Packaging with Future”. Whether it’s an innovative idea around digitalization, app solutions, new materials and circular economy with a view to recycling – anyone who wants to drive the circular economy forward is welcome to join the “Packaging with Future” platform.

Among the platform members are renowned big names and pioneers in their fields. The platform therefore offers startups the opportunity to network with decision-makers. This applies not only to the member companies, but also to the platform’s network in politics, business and commerce.

Founded in Austria – Example for Europe

The “Packaging with Future” platform may be starting in Austria, but it wants to become a pioneer for European solutions. Talks with other potential participants are continuing and the Austrians are also open to cooperation with other platforms.

The platform members have planned numerous activities.

“We are starting with a digital panel discussion on the topic of food waste, will be holding talks with political players and are looking for an exchange with science and NGOs in regular sparring meetings.”

says Günther Lehner, summarizing the platform’s upcoming measures.

What do you think of “Packaging with Future”? Is there a possibility that a functioning circular economy, in which no recyclable material is lost, can also function throughout Europe or even worldwide?

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