Shawn Welch, Vice President and General Manager of Hi-Cone, elaborates on its shift from virgin plastics to 50% PCR products to improve sustainability along the supply chain.
What are the current trends within your industry?
At the height of the post Blue Planet era, the food and beverage packaging industry is facing an increasing demand for sustainable solutions. Hi-Cone has invested considerable resources to achieve our ambitious sustainability goals and we are calling for the industry to come together to maximise impact. By working closely with organisations along the supply chain, everyone – from beverage brands to retailers and suppliers – can contribute to a more sustainable future.
Out of these trends what do you feel will be the biggest disrupter to the industry?
The global shift towards sustainability has generated a great degree of positive change and energy. At Hi-Cone, we have embraced the growing demand for sustainable packaging and are aiming to help create a more circular economy by using at least 50% post-consumer recycled content in our products and partnering with recycling organisations where the current infrastructure is not sufficient. The circular economy will likely lead to big changes in how we use products and we are committed to do our part. However, Green Alliance’s new report recently warned consumers and other stakeholders to consider the environmental impact of plastic packaging alternatives, for example, so it is crucial to consider the life cycle impact of any changes to packaging.
What innovative technology do you see emerging in the near future?
With the growing collaboration across the manufacturing, consumer goods, recycling, and government sectors, we will start to see a more standardized system for measuring companies’ environmental impact and the progress they are making towards a circular economy. We have already witnessed the beginning of this system with the launch of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s new Circulytics tool to help measure companies’ sustainability development. New tech in recycling technologies and in material manufacturing will also help eliminate unnecessary waste and make sure that all material that can be recycled has a way to enter the circular economy. By increasing the amount of post-consumer recycled content, recycled materials will likely be perceived as a valuable resource in the future. This might also help incentivise changes in recycling infrastructure.
What are the biggest challenges within your industry at the moment?
The biggest challenge we are facing right now is a lack of consensus on the impact of different materials throughout their lifecycle. Many see plastics packaging as the issue but more information is starting to emerge that it might be more complex than this. As more reports, such as the one by Green Alliance, begin to surface and warn that we may be fixing one problem with an even bigger one, we need to shift gears to find a real solution and work together to put it into practice.
How is your company evolving alongside new trends?
At Hi-Cone, we are taking sustainability very seriously and are committed to achieving our ambitious sustainability goals. We work with our customers closely to make sure we are providing a packaging solution that is also aligned with their sustainability goals. We have partnered with various recycling and environmental organizations to make sure the products we produce are recycled either through existing infrastructure or supplementary infrastructure provided by our partners. We are also committed to improving our products and will be rolling out new solutions, made from recycled content, throughout the year.
How is your company utilising innovative technology?
Our innovation lab is the heart of our sustainability efforts. Using new techniques in plastic manufacturing we have been able to produce a product that is made of 50% post-consumer recycled material, RingCycles™. Hi-Cone has also partnering with several recycling companies, including TerraCycle™ in the UK. Through this partnership, Hi-Cone is utilising new technology in recycling to make sure that consumers can easily recycle our products to give them a second life.
What would you say is your company’s biggest success to date?
Hi-Cone’s biggest success towards our sustainability goals was our recent launch of RingCycles™, which is a truly minimal packaging solution, ensuring that consumers can keep enjoying the convenience of beverage multipacks while beverage companies can easily switch over to a more sustainable solution. We are already working on the next step of our sustainability journey and are committed to setting more and more ambitious goals.
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