Solving our packaging problem: Industry leaders to collaborate during innovation workshop

This spring, stakeholders from across the packaging value chain will come together to create innovative, sustainable packaging solutions in RCD’s Redefining Flexible Films Innovation Workshop.

Chris McGurrin, Manager, Influencer Programs

January 14, 2020

4 Min Read

There is no doubt that the natural products industry is an incredible and inspiring community. Whether it's changing the lives of consumers with cleaner, healthier food options, tackling social issues or supporting healthy agricultural systems, this industry has much to be proud of. Consistently, natural product leaders are the earliest adopters of progressive thinking.

Despite the beauty and optimism that exists in the natural products industry, it has a massive Achilles heel. Something to be ashamed of. Namely, packaging.

And let’s be clear–most products need packaging, but too many of the current packaging options are single-use, extractive plastics that are damaging the environment.

It is estimated that by 2050 there will be more plastic by weight in our oceans than fish. Furthermore, according to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation only 14% of plastics within our current system are collected for recycling, making the argument that plastic is a sustainable material invalid. Now more than ever, innovative solutions are needed.

Yet perfect solutions for the industry don’t really exist yet. Despite wanting to implement better packaging, many brands don’t know where to start.

The solution lies in elementary economics–supply and demand. A scalable supply of sustainable packaging solutions won’t come to fruition without collective industry demand. Many stakeholders across the packaging supply chain can easily feel siloed, desperately seeking resources and struggling to create the level of impact they envision for their organization and the industry at large.

Related:Alter Eco ups the ante on sustainable packaging

The catalyst for change lies in uniting stakeholders across the packaging value chain to develop innovative solutions together with macro-level systems impact. That is why OSC2 and RCD have teamed up to facilitate an industry-wide innovation workshop called Redefining Flexible Films.

Launching this spring, Redefining Flexible Films is centered around a simple question: “How can we (the natural products industry) deliver food products to consumers in a way that generates zero waste and still allows brands to differentiate themselves in the market?”

This is the all-important question in the world of natural products, and the current support of the event shows that the industry agrees. The invite-only event will host stakeholders across the value chain, from retailers, material managers, brands, distributors, co-manufacturers, engineers and more. PepsiCo, Whole Foods Market, New Hope Network, Happy Family Organics, Ben & Jerry’s and GreenSeed are a few of the names that will be participating, eager to spark change.

Curated by Reyna Bryan, an industry expert with over 10+ years of experience pushing sustainable packaging innovation and conversation forward, the workshop’s goal is to create an environment of collaboration through a guided design-thinking framework modeled after groups such as IDEO and Stanford’s The innovation experience is being developed by RCD alongside innovation experts Dr. Phil Samuel of LeanMethods and Tom Chi.  

The innovation framework for the workshop series will play out in four phases this spring. The beginning of the workshop series is facilitated remotely through a series of webinars, online collaboration and ideation exercises to Define (phase one) the specific needs that our current packaging fails to meet, and to Discover (phase two) potential innovation opportunities pulled from biomimicry, industry trends, and collective knowledge. Together, the webinars and online discussion prime the conversation for the next, all-important third phase–Develop.Packaging Innovation Workshop Timeline.png

The Develop phase is a two day, in-person workshop, taking place in San Francisco. In the Develop phase, stakeholders will cross-pollinate their expertise to develop packaging innovation design ideas with a clear vision. This facilitated workshop will engage all participants to formulate, select and optimize designs, getting them ready for implementation in the fourth and final phase, Demonstrate.

The conversation around sustainable packaging often revolves around the word action. We are running out of time and need to take action on our packaging problem, quickly. Phase four, Demonstrate, does just that. Workshop participants will implement their formulated designs within their organizations, testing real-life applications and will share their learnings along the way.

Leveraging the collective power and influence of stakeholders across the natural products industry can drive change and reform. Redefining Flexible Films aims to make a zero-waste world a reality by bringing together each part of the value chain to create systematic change in the packaging industry.

RCD OSC2.pngYou can find more information on the Redefining Flexible Films RCD innovation workshop hosted by OSC2 here. If you are interested in attending, apply before February 14!

About the Author(s)

Chris McGurrin

Manager, Influencer Programs, New Hope Network

A passionate individual working to inspire health for people and planet, Chris manages New Hope Network's influencer programs. In his role, he provides natural products industry-supportive content, resources and brand partnership opportunities for health and wellness influencers. Chris also manages the NEXTY Awards, an industry-facing awards program which recognizes brands and product inspiring a more sustainable future for people and planet. On New Hope Network's editorial team, he produces sustainability-focused content on topics such as organic and regenerative agriculture, upcycling and sustainable packaging. 

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