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February venue in Texas includes Mars Inc., Eastman, Smart Cups (shown), enhanced recycling, The Recycling Partnership and cannabis.

Dan Durham

January 6, 2020

4 Min Read
The Packaging Conference 2020: New technology for plastic sustainability and more

It’s no surprise to Plastics Today readers that the focus on plastics, packaging and the environment has accelerated. However, what is newsworthy are the emerging approaches to addressing these complex issues.

A significant portion of The Packaging Conference, February 3-5, at the AT&T Conference Center, Austin, TX, will be attacking the issue from different angles.

For example, Barnaby Wallace, global category lead packaging of the global pet care segment for Mars, Inc. (McClean, VA), will elaborate on “Sustainable in a Generation” as Mars plans to address the transformation of its business to a more sustainable future. The healthy planet component of the plan includes a commitment to a circular economy. Mars is striving to make 100% of its packaging recyclable by 2025.  Wallace’s presentation will outline some of the challenges and the need for the complete value chain to be a part of the solution.


Smart Cups address sustainability by eliminating the storage and transportation of liquid products by printing the ingredients right on the substrate.

Attendees will hear about the need for solutions to be multifaceted in order to manage the complexities of the issue including collection, cleaning and reapplication. More sophisticated technologies will need to be developed and/or commercialized to address the scale of the issue, particularly when considering complex high-performance plastic packaging.

President and CEO Katherine Lugar of the American Beverage Association (Washington, D.C.) will share how America’s leading beverage companies are working with leading environmental and sustainability organizations to get “Every Bottle Back.” Lugar believes that recycling alone is not the solution and that front and back end challenges need to be addressed to truly make a difference.

Luis Sierra, CEO, BP Global Aromatics (Naperville, IL), will discuss enhanced recycling technology for difficult-to-recycle PET plastic waste.

Clark Ensminger, market development manager, Eastman (Kingsport, TN), will focus on how will brands make the transition to recycled, sustainable solutions for their products and packaging. He will share how Eastman has reimagined its material production process and developed a way to replace the coal and natural gas used for feedstocks with plastic waste currently destined for the landfill. Eastman also creates materials made from waste plastic that can be used for packaging and products.

Charlie Schwarze, director, corporate engagement, The Recycling Partnership (Falls Church, VA), will talk about its recent report, The Bridge to Circularity, which address the steps brands and their supply chains must take in order to meet aggressive recycling and recycled content gaps.

David Feber, partner, McKinsey & Company (New York City), will provide an update on the key megatrends affecting the packaging industry, with a specific focus on how sustainability is changing the game, as well as what leading players are doing to capitalize on this trend for success.

Smart Cups, cannabis

The Packaging Conference is well-recognized as a forum that debuts innovative packaging technology and discusses packaging for emerging markets. A standout packaging innovation to be featured this year is Smart Cups (shown above) of Mission Viejo, CA. Founder and CEO Chris Kanik will review how technology is changing the game for sustainability by eliminating the storage and transportation of liquid products by printing the ingredients right on the substrate. Applications of Smart Cups Technology extend far beyond the beverage industry, as any ingredient can be printed on any type of surface. From life-saving medications to personal hygiene products, cosmetics, cleaning supplies and even water purification systems.

No packaging event would be complete without some discussion of the white-hot cannabis packaging topic. Lauren Piekos, vice president marketing, Consumer Packaging North America, Berry Global (Evansville, IN), will discuss how safety plays a role in cannabis packaging, along with key features and benefits including freshness, portability, and sustainability. Attendees will learn about the role that consumer research plays in developing a new package, third-party certification processes and material qualification.

PTI-DDurham_20450x630_20PT_0.jpgAuthor: Dan Durham is PTI’s director of technical client services. Since joining PTI in 1991, Durham has specialized in PET including packaging, tooling design and injection and blow molding processing. He is currently helping multinational brand owners successfully navigate packaging projects from concept to commercialization.

About PTI

PTI is recognized worldwide as a leading source for preform and package design, package development, rapid prototyping, pre-production prototyping, and material evaluation engineering for the plastic packaging industry. For more information: www.pti-usa.com

About the Author(s)

Dan Durham


Dan Durham is the director of technical client services at PTI. He has decades of experience in plastic packaging ranging from tooling design to injection and blow molding processing.  He currently focuses his efforts on helping multinational brand owners successfully navigate packaging projects from concept to commercialization. 

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