Consumer concern about plastic/food waste and the consequences of climate change continues to grow. As a result, food manufacturers, consumer brands and retailers are eager to adopt a range of innovations to support sustainability, traceability and efficiency throughout the entire food value chain. This momentum was evidenced as industry thought leaders gathered in February for the inaugural Food, Packaging & Sustainability Summit sponsored by the Sonoco FRESH initiative at Clemson University.
Digimarc’s platform evangelist, Jay Sperry, participated in a panel discussion, “IoT: The Power of Connected Packaging,” where he spoke with Raj Rao, general manager, Blockchain Platforms, IBM, on why implementing and utilizing innovative technologies, such as Digimarc Barcode and Blockchain technology, can help to deliver safe, secure and sustainable packaging solutions.
Other noteworthy speakers and themes emerging from the conference included:
- Supply Chain Inefficiencies & Hunger – David Beasley, executive director, World Food Program, reminded attendees: “Food is one of the most fundamental building blocks for society. In addition to meeting a basic human need, it also supports societal stability and allows individuals to lead productive lives.” He emphasized that the importance of the supply chain and its impact on hunger has been underestimated until now, with the pandemic highlighting the challenges. Beasley also cited a statistic that one-third of food is wasted (US$ 500 billion) each year.
- Packaging & Consumer Education – According to a Clemson University student survey conducted in 2020, 67% of packaging companies indicated a willingness to add an infographic and/or a scannable code to packaging to inform consumers about the package’s sustainability features.
- PepsiCo & Circular Packaging – Stephen Tyner, R&D manager, FLNA (Frito-Lay North America) Core Packaging Services, PepsiCo, spoke about Pepsi’s packaging and the circular economy, including a pledge to be 100% recyclable, biodegradable or compostable by 2025 (currently at 89%), and to invent new, more sustainable forms of plastic.
- Moving Toward ‘Advanced Recycling’ – Prapti Muhuri, manager, Recycling and Recovery, Plastics Division, American Chemistry Council, spoke about how her organization is leveraging chemistry to convert post-use plastic into products which extend the life of plastic. Some of the new outputs include feedstock for new plastics, plastic additives (e.g. for roofing) and waxes. Find out more here.