Experts from some of the world’s biggest brands, including Marks & Spencer, Pepsi Lipton and Church & Dwight Co., together with British Plastics Federation, A Plastic Planet and WRAP, will come together under one roof at Packaging Innovations 2019 to tackle the industry’s most contentious issue – plastics in packaging.
The Big Plastics Debate, which will be hosted on the dedicated Ecopack stage, will welcome an array of industry experts to discuss the future of plastics and reflect on the pledges made by brands over the last 12 months.
From Marks & Spencer’s new initiative to turn non-recyclable plastic into playground equipment, to Iceland’s successful bottle return scheme, the issue of plastic in packaging remains high on the media agenda. Following its launch in 2018, the return of the Big Plastics Debate comes at an opportune moment to reassess the situation one-year on and further build on the groundwork that has been laid by the industry.
The debate will take place across both days of the event, which returns to Birmingham’s NEC on 27 & 28 February. Day one’s debate, chaired by Martin Kersh, executive director of the Foodservice Packaging Association (FPA), will kick off with the Ecopack Challenge which will welcome six companies to the stage to present their innovative sustainable packaging solutions as they battle it out for the chance to work with Marks & Spencer, and the crown of Ecopack Challenge Winner for 2019.
This will be followed by The Big Debate, where two teams will go head to head to debate whether plastic packaging will always play a fundamental part in our everyday lives. Delivered in a traditional debating style, each speaker will have five minutes to make their case, before the debate is opened up to questions from the floor, followed by an audience vote. The team line-ups will be announced next week.
The circular economy will be top of the agenda at day two of the Big Plastics Debate. Chaired by Jane Bevis, chair of OPRL, the debate will see expert panels tackle two key areas of the circular economy. The first debate, ‘Designing Packaging for a Circular Economy’, will welcome Andy Rees the Welsh Government’s head of waste strategy, who was recently awarded an OBE for services to the environment and recycling. Also joining the panel will be Paul Day, senior packaging technologist at Church & Dwight Co., Peter Maddox, director of WRAP, RECOUP’s CEO, Stuart Foster, and Clover Abbott, global sustainable packaging manager at Pepsi Lipton, who will discuss what packaging designers and technologists need to consider when designing packaging that will be as sustainable as possible.
The Big Plastics Debate will be rounded off with the ‘Recruiting Consumers for a Circular Economy’ panel, which will consider how the packaging community can influence consumers to change their consumption and recycling habits to help reduce plastic waste. Joining the discussion will be Carole Taylor, chair of LARAC, and Jos Harrison, global design strategy director at RB, with further speakers to be announced shortly.
James Drake-Brockman, divisional director of Easyfairs’ Packaging Portfolio, commented: “Since the Big Plastics Debate launched in 2018, we have seen many global brands taking steps towards creating greener packaging solutions, but the issue still remains prolific, as consumers and regulatory bodies increasingly demand more sustainable packaging and plastic alternatives.
“The return of the Big Plastics Debate offers us a fantastic opportunity to bring together some of the biggest names in the industry to continue the discussion and tackle the issues our industry is currently facing, including the circular economy. The debate provides a platform for all sides of the debate, from many areas of expertise, to discuss the issue in a balanced manner. It is certainly not to be missed!”
With sustainability remaining at the top of the agenda for the packaging industry, The Big Plastics Debate will join a host of sustainability-focussed features taking place at the show. New for 2019, A Plastic Planet will host the Plastic Free Aisle on the showfloor. The interactive supermarket aisle, stocked with packaging made from biomaterials, will offer visitors a tangible insight into how supermarket shelves might look in the future. The Ecopack Stage will also feature seminars from global brands including Coca-Cola, Iceland and Innocent Drinks, all discussing the brands’ unique take on the issue of sustainable packaging.