• At APPEX 2024’s IPPO industry forum, a panel of three of Australia’s food manufacturing industry leaders: packaging development director, Alberto Peixeiro, Mondelēz senior group leader Chocolate Packaging Development, and Matt McMichael, the COO of SPC discussed the challenges and triumphs of sustainable packaging.
    At APPEX 2024’s IPPO industry forum, a panel of three of Australia’s food manufacturing industry leaders: packaging development director, Alberto Peixeiro, Mondelēz senior group leader Chocolate Packaging Development, and Matt McMichael, the COO of SPC discussed the challenges and triumphs of sustainable packaging.
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Sustainable packaging innovation, greater investment, and more collaboration were the key themes of the industry forum hosted by International Packaging Press Organisation and led by Yaffa Media titles, PKN Packaging News, Food & Drink Business, and Print 21 at APPEX 2024. There were more than 500 people in the Seminar Theatre as local and international packaging industry leaders shared their knowledge and experiences.

Food & Drink Business editor, Kim Berry, chaired a panel with three of Australia’s food manufacturing industry leaders: Arnott's packaging development director, Alberto Peixeiro, Mondelēz senior group leader Chocolate Packaging Development Rich Welburn, and Matt McMichael, the COO of SPC.

The three shared the experiences, challenges, and successes for their companies regarding sustainable packaging.

Recurring messages were the need for greater collaboration within the food and beverage industry, greater investment in recycling technology, and that even small changes can have a big impact.

Peixeiro took the opportunity to announce Arnott’s latest commitment, signing an R&D collaboration with start-up, Paco, and UNSW developing new technology for PCR PET recycling and plastic made from bio-based material.

In 2023, Arnott’s reduced its packaging footprint by 500 tonnes and 85 per cent of its packaging is now recyclable.

“We’re on the last leg to 100 per cent. There is a lot of pressure to switch to recyclable and recycled materials, but it is not that simple because of so many factors that have to be taken into account,” Peixeiro said.

Welburn discussed the company-wide effort required to drive the change needed when it comes to sustainable packaging adoption and the importance of leadership across the entire organisation.

The importance of defining the sustainability agenda in the same way as other business units, with KPIs and costings and deliverables was also identified as critical for success.

McMichael shared that the voice of the consumer is driving the greatest pressure on SPC. “We know we’re a declining category so we’re looking to different formats, different occasions, and different users for the products we make. But the challenge then shifts because moving into different formats means other issues - changing from a two-year shelf life to a 12 month one,” McMichael said.

He said there needs to be more education for consumers about the range in costs and impacts on products of different packaging formats.

Welburn shared details of Mondelez’s close working relationship with its packaging supplier Amcor, having recently announced Amcor would supply around 1000 tonnes of post-consumer recycled plastic to wrap around Cadbury’s core chocolate range, increasing the recycled content of the wrappers from 30 to 50 per cent. According to Welburn, it was a “massive investment” for the company and cost “a shocking amount”, reiterating the main problem being the price of getting hold of post-consumer recycled waste. He said it was a shame the material had to come from overseas, but the hope is as it starts to be used more often, it will drive the change needed.

The discussion covered the importance of solving Australia’s soft plastic recycling issues, the importance of collaboration between companies and their suppliers and further down the supply chain, the need for cohesive curbside recycling system, and continued investment.

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