Combating the Climate Crisis: Environmental Packaging Conference 2019

At Path, we are always looking to make our work as sustainable and environmentally friendly as possible. As part of our ongoing research, we went along to the Environmental Packaging Summit to get an insight into the key industry leaders within this field, and the innovative ideas they’re sharing. Set within the stunning backdrop of The Crystal in Victoria – one of the most stainable buildings in the world – The Environmental Packaging Summit was hot both in terms of weather, and subject matter.

Liz Bonnen opened with a brilliantly impactful and informed speech about plastic pollution. She established the clear need for urgency and reminded attendee’s of the importance of the events like these, emphasising the impact that un-sustainable packaging is having on our planet. Following up, Peter Maddox from Wrap discussed ‘The Blue Planet effect’ and how the packaging industry, along with consumers, have started to make changes over the last 18 months. He highlighted that although some positive progression has been made, it was time to take serious action.

Throughout the day there were several panels having vital environmental discussions. One of the biggest things to come up was the misleading use of the term ‘biodegradable’ within marketing. To combat the use of this, Andy Sweetman for the BBIA led the conversation towards certificating packaging as ‘compostable’, and teaching consumers how to properly dispose of their waste.

An ongoing subject was how to cut down company (and consumer) use of plastic. This covered everything from switching to more sustainable materials, the UK Government charging companies significantly higher tax on new plastic (in the hope to encourage companies to use recycled plastic), to teaching school-age consumers about plastic pollution and littering.

While many of us may dream of a plastic free world, it’s impossible to deny that plastic has become an essential part of almost all aspects of our daily lives. To go plastic free is an all but unachievable concept, and so other discussions are starting to take root. Ravish Jain, commercial Director at Recycling Technologies, discussed his company’s revolutionary technology that is being developed to break down plastic into re-usable oil. The eventual goal would be to collate plastic from our oceans and landfills and recycle them into sustainable oils – also helping to tackle the imminent oil crisis upon us.

As a Design and Innovation agency, we know that we need plastics. While encouraging companies to make more sustainable choices and cut down their plastic use is a positive step, we at Path believe that the focus should instead be on creating circular value in plastic by investing in waste management. We need to simplify specifications then properly collect and reuse the plastics produced. By capturing every piece of plastic before it hits our oceans and landfills, we can create a more circular economy for this wonder-material.


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