Circular economies as the way of the future: AIP Conference

By Conal O’Neill

Session two of the AIP Conference saw keynote addresses from some of the big players in the industry.

Mars Food Australia general manager Bill Heague, Woolworths Food Company head of packaging Bryan McKay and Nestlé Australia head of packaging Karunia Adhiputra all spoke about the need for circular economies for environmental and financial reasons as well as consumer demand for more sustainable practices in the packaging industry.

Heague spoke of the need for “circular solutions” and also tied the issue of packaging waste to food waste, noting that 7.6 million tonnes of food are wasted each year in Australia, and that reducing food waste “actually improved the economic returns that we’re getting”.

Describing the move towards sustainable and circular economic practices as “inevitable”, Heague also emphasised that producers such as Mars Food “will not compromise on quality”.

Speaking of the drivers behind the push to sustainability in the packaging industry, McKay noted that while governments, consumers and “the planet” were all demanding recyclable packaging, it would all mean nothing unless that packaging was reused into packaging again, and the framework to enable this is vital.

Adhiputra also spoke of the importance of using recycled content back into packaging and of Nestlé’s “paperisation” of its chocolate packaging. Nestle is looking at “long-term solutions for a circular economy” from a “waste hierarchy perspective”, Adhiputra said.

This approach put the focus on reduction of packaging, with Adhiputra explaining that the company used on label messaging to explain to consumers that while the packaging size of a particular product may decrease, the contents remained the same.

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