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Sustainable Packaging 2019

Advancing sustainable packaging to drive the circular economy

iStock / Getty Images Plus / Julia_Sudnitskaya

Patrick Lindner

President, Consumer Packaging, WestRock

When it comes to packaging, a majority of consumers place the greatest importance on strength[1] – a package must not break or leak. Their next priority: the packaging is good for the environment.[2] Fibre based packaging can deliver on both.

Helping customers achieve their sustainability goals, while also meeting consumer expectations of performance is an undertaking that requires deep partnership and innovative thinking, but if we work together, we can connect people to products in a more sustainable way.

The challenge before us is to move toward packaging that is right-sized, renewable, recyclable and/or compostable. We are partnering with our customers to do just that, with a focus on:

Renewable materials

  • Wood fiber is inherently well suited to the circular economy due to its renewable nature and ease of recyclability. Responsible fiber sourcing is key to renewability so, by working closely with landowners and certifying organisations like the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest CertificationTM we can ensure that the virgin (new) fiber used in our products is responsibly sourced.
  • Using both virgin fiber and recycled content. While recycled materials are important to the circular economy, many people don’t realise that paper fibers are not infinitely recyclable. Without the addition of virgin fiber into the paper manufacturing system, recycled fibers would eventually become too small to be reused.
  • Operating recycling centers in many areas of North America, bringing fiber-based packaging back into the manufacturing cycle to be used again.

Collaborating with partners like The Recycling Partnership to encourage consumer education and the development of recycling infrastructure.

Advancing sustainable packaging

  • Partnering with customers and working to ensure that packaging is sustainable, through recycling and composting, as well as waste reduction.
  • Continuing to work to develop fiber-based solutions that help customers remove plastics from their packaging. Additionally, scientists are discovering new methods for enhancing recyclability and compostability of paperboard while maintaining strength and quality.
  • And, working in partnership with our customers to create packaging that is the right size for use.

From our fiber sourcing team to our paper scientists, packaging engineers and designers and recycling professionals, we are committed to making packaging as strong and sustainable as possible. They are why I joined this company. Together, we believe we can use our collective knowledge to help solve our customers’ challenges and to drive the transition to a more sustainable and circular economy.

[1] According to our most recent Packaging MattersTM study [2] WestRock Packaging Matters E-Commerce and Sustainability, 2019.

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