EarthX on Aug. 20 hosted a salon with AMERIPEN at Earthx2019 in Dallas, Tex., to collaboratively develop solutions for sustainable packaging. Bringing business stakeholders from across the packaging chain together with retailers, technology companies, municipal governments, and waste processors, the “Innovation Needs for Circular Packaging Systems” Salon was the second of four AMERIPEN meetings focused on “Envisioning a Strategy for Sustainable Packaging in the U.S.”

EarthX and AMERIPEN, which leads the packaging industry through advocacy based on science, welcomed Mark Zachary Taylor from Georgia Tech’s School of Public Policy and David Refkin from the ReMADE Institute. They addressed dialogue across the value chain, increasing incentives, recycling to recovery, and reuse beyond recycling. With a circular packaging system, all materials and formats are 100 percent recyclable, reusable, or compostable.

“If we started our design process with an understanding of what available end uses exist for specific packaging materials, then we can better inform design specifications,” said Taylor. “The concept of design for recycling is not new, but the concept of focusing on end-market uses opens more focus on quality assurance for remanufacturing.”

A key focus was future recoverability of the full package at the design stage, highlighting how reverse logistics to collect more recyclable materials and yield better collected content will better align new materials development and end-of-life. This “design backward” focus on end-markets also improves anticipated sortation, collection, and reprocessing.

“These collaborative discussions allow us to anticipate the broader implications that packaging design will have on end-of-life infrastructure,” added Refkin. “The smartest and most effective strategy to build up support for R&D is to focus on efficiency, reducing contamination, and conserving costs where possible.”

Companies represented included 3M, 4Ocean, 7-11, Actus Logistics, Amcor, American Chemistry Council, AMERIPEN, City of Dallas, Commodity Recycling Solutions, Dow, Future 500, Georgia Tech’s School of Public Policy, Glass Packaging Institute, Grocery Manufacturers Association, Intertape Polymers, Mars, Nestle, Plastic Oceans, ReMADE Institute, Scholle IPN, State of Texas Alliance for Recycling, Target Corporation, Tetra Pak, US EPA – Federal, US EPA – State of Texas, and Waste Management.

“There is a need to understand to what degree minor shifts in packaging design can be successful, and where business can direct and target resources towards innovative new solutions,” concluded Tony Keane, chief executive officer of EarthX. “This Salon brought private and public interests together to collaborate on materials R&D for the sake of our broader environmental interest.”

Earthx2019 welcomed more than 177,000 for three days of exhibitions, a film festival, music, entertainment, learning experiences, discussions, forums, and conferences. Earthx2020 will be held April 24 – 26, 2020 in Dallas.