Anyone country often think that they can pass the regulation or they can do something that might be specific for their needs, but it makes it very difficult for the rest of the Industry to be efficient because now they have all these unique countries that they have to deal with. The more we could be alike in common then the better off we all are.
Can you say a few words about the meetings you have participated at the Packaging Exhibition in Paris-Villepinte last November?
It was very good, it was the first time we have had the French Packaging Association, the British Incpen and the U.S. Ameripen, European and American altogether. That was a very interesting approach, where many of our members in some instances are the exact things in companies, and we are performing very similar activities for those members. But we each have little unusual differences. As an example: all of us are talking about communicating the value of packaging, helping consumers and legislators understand that packaging really performs a function, and really is a good thing, and even though we understand that many consumers and individuals and legislators and educators may think that packaging is bad, and that is environmentally bad, in reality it’s really a very good thing, and packaging does a lot of good things for Society.
I give you a number of examples: if you can extent shelf life of food product, you won’t waste as much product at home or at retail. Unsellable at retail are very high, the aftermaths are in billions of dollars, tenths may be even hundreds of billions of dollars. We waste a lot of food, packaging can help reduce that. So there has been so much emphasis on reducing packaging that I am trying to create a message that says : we should have more packaging; if we can have more packaging that is going to extent the shelf life of our food product, and that is huge for our community, and for us and for individuals. The wrap is there because it enables products to be sold to consumers to a much lower price because waste is reduced. So, in that instant, packaging is really a very good thing. I recently bought two preserved plants off of the Internet. It was shipped to my house, and one plant arrived safely and the other one was broken; it was shipped in a vase that was very heavy, very large. So I examined the package, I examined the damages. So I contacted the company and said there was no evidence of damage on the packaging. The item was broken in the inside and they say: “We are so sorry; we are going to send you another one”. So I got replacement and the second one is damaged. So I replied by Email and I said :”I believe that you have a design problem with this vase and you probably should go back to the manufacturer and suggest that they look at a new design or stop shipping these”. Without packaging, we are going to get a lot of damage. We can get enough damage even through poor design or through transportation hazard and packaging is going to try to fix all of that. It can’t fix that all the time but it succeeds it so often that when we do get something shipped to our home and it is damaged, it’s a rare occasion. That’s why packaging is a good thing.
What kind of partnership can Ameripen and CNE make together?
When we look at all of the organisations that are operating in the Packaging Industry, they are many. Just in the US, I counted up the number of organisations that were working on increasing the recovery of packaging material, I think they were eighteen. That’s’ a lot of organisation. So for all of us that are working in this field, we need to understand, take a moment and find out what are the key actions that all of us are doing and how can we collaborate because we don’t have all the resources that we can each do things independently. So I think one more when operating in any space, be at materials or distribution or legislation, or any of those areas where they involve packaging, it’s a hard manage to collaborate and find out what key strings are. How can we take advantage of each other’s work? We have just completed the project where we have analyzed all of the data that is available on the recovery of packaging materials in the U.S. We put that on our website and make it publically available, so now anyone in the world can go in and take a look at that data and find out what actually is happening in the US. Here is an area where we may collaborate but I am sure we would find areas of opportunities for collaboration because almost any organisation that I talked with will do something very similar in the opportunity to share that information.
What about the differences between what you have seen in France and what happpens in the U.S. ?
I think for most packaging organisations I would say that our similarities are that we are trying to communicate the value of packaging, really trying to improve the performance of packaging. But how do you influence legislators so that when they are making changes they don’t do something that is going to make the situation worse? So how do you communicate the real data so that legislators can make informed decisions? So for us, in the US, what we are focusing on is really a significant data and then communicating that not only to the legislators but also to consumers because if the legislators are doing their job, they are listening to their constituency, so how do we get through to their constituency as well to the legislators to say here the truth about this issue, here is the science behind it? And be careful of this legislation because it could have unattended consequences.
Can you answer the question I did not ask that you would like to answer?
The Packaging Industry is very large and I have always thought of the Industry as being almost a family. In the US, Packaging employs around 750 000 people and the Packaging Industry itself contributes to $ 200 billion to the US GDP. That is a significant amount, we are a significant Industry. I think we are making substantial contribution to Society, to develop a market as well as a margin market and it´s going to be important for us to really focus on communicating the value of packaging and in everything that we do, think of it from a global prospective not from what´s good for me or what´s good for my country but also for the Industry at large because I am not sure that the future generation of packaging professionals will have it as easy as well what we have had it. I think the Global Economies are changing. The next generation is going to find their work environment much different than what we have found ours and I think we are obligated to lay a good foundation for future generation of packaging professionals.