Virginie Helias, chief sustainability officer of Proctor & Gamble

The Sustainability Summit at the Beurs van Berlage began on the morning of 14 November with a keynote conversation between Virginie Helias, chief sustainability officer of Proctor & Gamble, and Tim Sykes, the editor of Packaging Europe. The conversation began with Helias outlining industry goals of reducing plastic use by 50% by 2030 and her own company’s goals to move to 100% recyclable materials.

Helias cited examples of meaningful progress such as the reduction of 46% in the plastic used by iconic brands such as Head & Shoulders shampoo. “We need to turn the use of recycled materials into a good story for consumers interesting for consumers, she said. Turning the iconic Head & Shoulders white container to a grey shampoo bottle reflected the use of recyclates and made it a bit more interesting for consumers,” she said.

Helias spoke of the move to paperboard cartons used for the Ariel Ecoclic cartons for its washing pods and Gillette’s cardboard where the competitors have similarly adapted their packaging. The Ecolic carton, apart from being easy for adults to open, is difficult for small children to open by mistake. The 50% reduction of water use with dishwashing powders was cited as another step in her company’s all-rounded environmental approach as well as water-soluble washes.

Irresistibly superior and more sustainable

She insisted that the brand innovations must be both irresistibly superior and more sustainable. Helias spoke about the Dawn Powerwash and EC30 water-activated swatches and explained that there were some innovations that didn’t make it or missed the mark – all because the execution lacked irresistible superiority.

Helias highlighted ground-breaking innovations such as VersoVita, a solvent-based advanced recycling technology transforming recycled polypropylene into a near-virgin state. “Now, it’s all about scaling these innovations to make an impact and rallying against the natural inertia to system change.”

On reusable packaging, Helias suggested that packaging standardization would help to make this frictionless consumer experience. There are several challenges. “Changing an economic system is not easy. It requires significant investments in cutting-edge technology, and there is the inertia that resists system churn. Recycling needs more scale.” Nevertheless, low carbon footprint and net-zero circularity are necessary, she asserted. “Let’s turn the impossible into the possible, let’s make it happen!”

Calling on brand owners and retailers to step up and join the HolyGrail2 pilot in France next year, Helias said, “We’re embedding digital watermarks into packaging for the ultimate test in real market conditions to drastically improve recycling rates. Another formidable challenge we collectively face is to qualify a reuse system that is economically and environmentally viable. We need all of us to crack it. Now is the time to be the change. All in!”

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The multi-channel B2B in print and digital 17-year-old platform matches the industry’s growth trajectory. The Indian, South Asian, Southeast Asian, and Middle East packaging industries are looking beyond the resilience of the past three years. They are resuming capacity expansion and diversification, with high technology and automation in new plants and projects.

As we present our 2024 publishing plan, India’s real GDP growth for the financial year ending 31 March 2024 will exceed 6%. The packaging industry growth will match the GDP growth in volume terms and surpass it by at least 3% in terms of nominal growth allowing for price inflation in energy, raw materials, consumables, and capital equipment.

The capacity for flexible film manufacturing in India increased by 45% over the past four years. With orders in place, we expect another 20% capacity addition in 2024 and 2025. Capacities in monocartons, corrugation, aseptic liquid packaging, and labels are growing similarly. As the consumption story returns over the next six months, we expect demand to return and exceed the growth trajectory of previous years. The numbers are positive for most of the economies in the region – and as shown by our analytics, our platform increasingly reaches and influences these.

For responsible and sustainable packaging, with its attendant regulations and compliances, there is significant headroom to grow in India and the region. Our coverage includes the entire packaging supply chain – from concept to shelf and to waste collection, sorting, and recycling.

We target brand owners, product managers, raw material suppliers, packaging designers and converters, and recyclers. This is a large and complex canvas – the only thing that can work is your agile thinking and innovation together with our continuous learning and persistence.

The coming year looks to be an up year in this region, and this is the right time to plan your participation and marketing communication – in our rich and highly targeted business platform with human resources on the ground. Share your thoughts and plans to inspire and mobilize our editorial and advertising teams!

For editorial info@ippgroup.in — for advertisement ads1@ippgroup.in and for subscriptions subscription@ippgroup.in

– Naresh Khanna (25 October 2023)

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Naresh Khanna
Editor of Indian Printer and Publisher since 1979 and Packaging South Asia since 2007. Trained as an offset printer and IBM 360 computer programmer. Active in the movement to implement Indian scripts for computer-aided typesetting. Worked as a consultant and trainer to the Indian print and newspaper industry. Visiting faculty of IDC at IIT Powai in the 1990s. Also founder of IPP Services, Training and Research and has worked as its principal industry researcher since 1999. Author of book: Miracle of Indian Democracy. Elected vice-president of the International Packaging Press Organization in May 2023.


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