Highlights from AUSPACK 2019

AUSPACK 2019 is off to a vibrant start. Highlights included far-reaching discussions about sustainability in the sold-out conference, to the latest technologies in Industry 4.0 displayed across the largest AUSPACK floor space ever.

The first of more than 7,000 expected visitors and 300 delegates came through the doors of the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, on day one. They partook in the two events kicking off Packaging and Processing Week: the AUSPACK exhibition, now in its 34th year, and the inaugural AUSPACK 2019 Business and Industry Conference.

Dr Michael Okoroafor, vice-president for global sustainability and packaging innovation at McCormick, laid out what he saw as key insights driving the future of packaging for the FMCG industry in his keynote address at AUSPACK 2019.

The circular economy is one area of focus for McCormick, said Okoroafor, who told guests at the packed keynote session that it is creating a new age for packaging.

“The era of make-use-dispose is over. We’re in the era of make-use-reuse,” he said.

Packaging also needs to shift its focus if it is to be successful in e-commerce, he said, arguing that the current approach taken by packagers is wrong for online sales.

“There is no packaging designed for e-commerce – we take the packaging for brick-and-mortar, insulate it as if it’s a nuclear weapon in a corrugated box, and call it e-commerce.

“The time of first moment of truth is over. You have to design for zero moment of truth – if it doesn’t show well in the digital world it’s over. If it shows well, they can buy it right there or go to the store for it,” he said.

With the conference’s theme of ‘Smart. Connected. Sustainable.’, this morning’s sessions revolved around sustainability.

There are plenty of opportunities for packagers trying to meet the Australian Government’s 2025 National Packaging Waste Target, according to an expert panel at AUSPACK 2019.

Craig Reucassel of The Chaser and War on Waste guided a discussion with Steve Lapidge, CEO of the Fight Food Waste Cooperative; Brooke Donnelly, CEO of the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO); Paul Klymenko, CEO Planet Ark; and Caitlyn Richards, responsible sourcing manager for sustainable products and packaging at Coles, on how and why packagers should embrace sustainability.

According to Donnelly, consumer pressure on businesses, coupled with external pressure from the global supply chain, has created a “perfect storm” of conditions that have generated momentum for sustainable packaging.

“The conversation is live and active and has great momentum. The issue is corralling everyone with the best of intentions to have a structured and considered approach – you need to plan for how you’ll transition, to avoid perverse outcomes.

“Our conversation is no longer about should we do it – it’s about how we do it,” she said.

Richards noted that companies such as Coles need to look closely at their packaging to determine what’s necessary and what isn’t, and that solutions such as Planet Ark’s PREP tool and the Australian Recycling Label can help make this easier.

“We need to make sure all our packaging serves a purpose,” she said.

According to Klymenko, recycled material can be used for different purposes than it was originally – glass bottles, for example, can be used to make silicon chips, and other materials such as plastics can be mixed with asphalt for roads.

“It’s not always like for like,” he said.

Lapidge drew attention to best-before and use-by dates on packaging, saying they needed to be more conservatively applied.

“We need some regulation in this area – often it is just a marketing tool to get more stock rotation. It results in a lot of perfectly good food being thrown out,” he said.

Lastly, Reucassel himself noted that more investment is needed in waste management here in Australia, particularly in the wake of China’s foreign waste ban.

“I kind of expected the China crisis in recycling to lead to more investment in recycling in Australia, and I’m surprised how little there’s been,” he said.

Out on the AUSPACK show floor, Industry 4.0 user group Open IIoT (stand B237) drew lots of interest. The group combines some of Australia’s most prominent automation brands – SMC Corporation, Beckhoff Automation, ZI-Argus, NORD Drivesystems and Balluff – and demonstrated different technologies working together, giving visitors a solid idea of the benefits and values arising from adopting IIoT technologies.

Another key event today was long-standing APPMA member Matthews Intelligent Identification (stand D140) revealing new branding during an eye-catching announcement. Matthews’ new logo distinctly refreshes its well-known, 19-year-old chameleon, “adapting the adapter” to highlight that technology is an integral part of its business, demonstrate how they seamlessly integrate with suppliers and brand partners, and interact with customers.

Anne-Marie Mina, marketing director of show organiser Exhibitions & Trade Fairs (ETF), said, “Day one of AUSPACK has been a fantastic success. Of course, later today from 5-7pm, I’m sure everyone is looking forward to the networking drinks on the exhibition floor, which offers the perfect opportunity to continue conversations with colleagues and peers.

“Tomorrow we are looking forward to day two of four of AUSPACK and the final day of the AUSPACK 2019 Business and Industry Conference, which will zero in on economics, factories of the future, blockchain and workplace diversity. Don’t forget to check out the free 30-minute workshops in the Insights by insignia area, which will be running again for the next three days.

“Then tomorrow night, the Gala Awards Ceremony for the APPMA Awards of Excellence will be held to announce the winners and APPMA Annual Scholarship recipient. It will be very exciting for the finalists and fantastic for the industry as a whole.”

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