As part of the Packaging Design session at Sustainability in Packaging Europe, Ulrike Sapiro, Director of Sustainability at The Coca-Cola Company gives her opinion on the future of packaging sustainability over the next five years, industry challenges and her recycle in, rubbish out presentation.

How do you foresee the future of packaging sustainability over the next five years? 

We have made great progress over the past decades but it is clear that the entire industry needs to step up by a double notch to meet the changing consumer and stakeholder expectations – not to mention resource challenges -  on how packaging should be managed. Recyclability in the design, recovery in the market, recycling and the creation of secondary materials are all areas where we have to make a lot of progress, and fast.

What are the main challenges the industry is facing from a material supplier perspective and how do you think this conference can overcome them? Changing consumer expectations and a drive by the regulators to transition (at least in Europe) to a circular economy. Industry will have an important role to play and – in light of Extended Producer Responsibility in Europe – we should take a leadership role. Industry is in the pivot position of driving packaging design and innovation, communicating to consumers through its brands and be a key partner for municipalities and governments on recovery and recycling.

Why do you think it is important to attend the Sustainability in Packaging conference? 

Today, Sustainability for Packaging is defined by the benchmark of the Circular Economy: is a packaging functional for consumer use AND can be kept in the economy at the end of life. This requires holistic end-to-end thinking along the value chain, not silos. I expect the Sustainable Packaging conference to highlight the connection points to make packaging more circular and to inspire the industry with new solutions and innovations.  

What are you most looking forward to at the Sustainability in Packaging conference in Barcelona? 

Lots of interesting discussion, some constructive controversy and a lot of positive inspiration.

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