Panel discussion: “Has the crisis changed the view on packaging? Is there a ‘plastic renaissance’?”

On May 27th, the platform “Verpackung mit Zukunft” (Packaging with a Future) in cooperation with “Der Brutkasten” organised a digital panel discussion, in which the question was discussed to what extent the image of plastic packaging has changed due to the Corona crisis.

In the panel, which was moderated by Brutkasten CEO Dejan Jovicevic, Christian Abl (Managing Director Reclay Austria), Philipp Bodzenta (Director Public Affairs & Communications at Coca-Cola Austria), Roswitha Hasslinger (market and opinion researcher), Christoph Hoffmann (Director Corporate Strategy, Sustainability and Circular Economy at Alpla), Martina Hörmer (Ja! Natürlich) and Manfred Tacker (Head of the Department of Packaging and Resource Management and Head of the Sustainable Resource Management course at the FH Campus Wien) were discussing the recognisable changes and necessary future reforms.

According to market and opinion researcher Roswitha Hasslinger, the Corona crisis has triggered a noticeable change in focus among end consumers: “Perception and behaviour have changed, but so has attitude towards plastic packaging. The protective function has moved to the forefront during the crisis.

All participants in the panel discussion agreed on the central importance of packaging for the protection of products and their transport and storage capability. Martina Hörmer from Ja! Natürlich, her consumer’s point of view was emphasised: “For customers, the contents and the wrapping are one unit. But it is a lengthy process to find the right packaging that protects and is ecological”.

Manfred Tacker, Head of the Department of Packaging and Resource Management and Head of the Sustainable Resource Management course at the FH Campus Wien, cleared up a dream image in the discussion from a scientific point of view: “There is no such thing as the ideal packaging: packaging must always be tailor-made for the respective product. And it is especially important to keep in mind that the legal framework is constantly changing. For example in connection with recycling quotas, CO2 reduction or littering. This leads to an enormous need for adaptation in the industry.

The Corona crisis has presented the entire industry with new challenges. Unexpected circumstances had to be reacted to as quickly as possible.
However, the widespread assumption that innovation is slowed down during the crisis was impressively refuted by Christoph Hoffmann, Director Corporate Strategy, Sustainability and Circular Economy at Alpla: “During the Corona period we even became more innovative and developed bottles for disinfectants in a very short time, for example. One more thing is certain: the necessity of the circular economy will not end with the crisis – on the contrary: we at Alpla are going the other way here and are increasing our innovation budget right now”.

Especially in times of crisis, packaging contributes to a secure supply. However, it must be a prerequisite that this does not happen at the expense of the environment. In the debate about packaging, seemingly hardened fronts are facing each other. Philipp Bodzenta, Director Public Affairs & Communications at Coca-Cola Austria, advocated a solution-oriented approach in the discussion: “An emotional debate is of little help to us. For change we need a joint solution as a value chain based on objective discussions.

You can watch the digital panel discussion on the YouTube channel of Der Brutkasten (German language only).

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Photo: Panel discussion (photo: derBrutkasten)