Avery Dennison Corporate / 2 voices in 1,200: What top sustainability experts are talking about

2 voices in 1,200: What top sustainability experts are talking about

We're sharing a snapshot of the conversations taking place when big brands, thinkers and experts come together.

More than 1,200 sustainability leaders assembled recently to look into the pressing challenges, emerging trends and biggest opportunities in sustainable business today at GreenBiz19. Two of the participants included Avery Dennison Vice President of Global Corporate Communications Rob Six and Senior Director for LGM Sustainability Renae Kezar, who are focused on building visibility and recognition for Avery Dennison’s sustainability leadership.

In the label and packaging arena, the global sustainability conversation continues to evolve as more actors work toward solutions that are restorative and regenerative by design (building a more “circular economy”). We wanted to share a snapshot of the conversations taking place when big brands, thinkers, and experts come together.

Renae Kezar, Senior Director, Sustainability, Label and Graphic Materials

Rob Six, Vice President, Global Corporate Communications

Avery Dennison:
With the myriad sustainability conversations happening around the world right now, what was the focus of participants at the GreenBiz19 conference?

Rob Six: There were a number of timely topics, but some of the strongest themes were around the circular economy, the SDGs (sustainable development goals), and the increasing urgency for stronger collaboration across the value chain.

Renae Kezar: There was a clear focus on moving the concept of a circular economy more into the mainstream, especially regarding the approach to ocean plastic - something that was at the edges of the conversation in the past and was now very much at the forefront. Also, on the topic of collaboration, we typically think of product solutions from cross-value chain collaboration, but there is a lot of work going on to fund the infrastructure needed for broader adoption of collection and recycling.

AD: What’s one problem or solution you heard discussed at the conference that you’re still thinking about?

Renae: It’s hard not to be thinking about ocean plastic - from collection, to recycling to ways to use recycled content. I am exploring how Avery Dennison can get involved with The Alliance to End Plastic Waste, which is a venture investment collaborative with P&G, Suez Recycling, and many others focused on building the infrastructure needed to address collection and recycling.

Rob: I’m still reflecting on a conversation I had with an executive from another leading materials science company. She reinforced the value of getting deeper into the conversation on the regulatory front - especially around single-use plastic as legislation advances in Europe for one. It will be important moving forward to understand where and how we can best use our voice to connect with business leaders and NGOs who care as much as we do about sustainability.

It will be important moving forward to understand where and how we can best use our voice to connect with business leaders and NGOs who care as much as we do about sustainability.

AD: Why is it important for our company to be present at forums like GreenBiz? How does it connect to our business?

Renae: GreenBiz is one of the events that hits on three primary factors: sustainability influencer, visibility, and business impact. By attending this forum, we hear the latest across a variety of topics. It is also attended by and presentations given by the industry leaders on the subject - TerraCycle, PepsiCo, Dow Chemical, and Closed Loop Fund to name a few. In two days, I was able to take away a lot of information on the current state of sustainability and make contacts within each of these key organizations.

The power coming from the circular economy initiatives is that across the industry we are aligning our objectives around recyclability, collection, and the use of recycled content.

Rob: It’s always valuable to be out in the ecosystem. It reinforces the fact that most companies are working through the same challenges we are. It’s encouraging to see so many that have an appetite to work together to share ideas and figure out ways to partner together. Everybody was talking about the circular economy and how to find ways to make their products recyclable or to enable recycling. That’s something we’re talking about and investigating every day across our company - from R&D to marketing to operations. We know we have a strong start with sustainable products and solutions. But we also know there’s so much more to do.

AD: How do we measure up in terms of our accomplishments in the sustainability space based on the priorities discussed by participants? What are we doing well?

Renae: We’re on top of creating a product roadmap and related innovations to address industry challenges. We’re putting those lines in the water. And, we’re especially proud of the high level of employee awareness and engagement around our sustainability goals and programs. That’s been a big focus for us over the past three years and will continue to be as we continue to innovate and invest for solutions.

AD: Tougher question - what’s one thing you realized that we need to do better as a result of what you were hearing?

Renae: We need to take a broad look at what is possible, the issue of single use packaging is broad and many solutions are being tested. As the head of Sustainability at PepsiCo said, “We are betting on many horses.” Tom Szaky, CEO and founder of TerraCycle, presented Loop, which is a reuse program for consumer products. It is due to go live in the next few months in NYC and Paris. The first generation of packaging looks amazing. Tom also gave a preview of the next generation of reusable packaging. We saw the first and second generation plans for Pantene packaging. They were beautiful. And both versions were made from aluminum.

Rob: We also need to advance our thinking about venture investments in the form of collaboratives. There’s a lot we can and will do as an individual corporation, but we know there’s so much more we can do together with other industry leaders and organizations.

AD: Where will you be next?

Rob: My immediate focus is back at the office where we’re working to put out our next sustainability report!

Renae: In addition to the day job, I’m looking forward to being on a panel at the Sustainable Packaging Coalition’s Impact event in April where I will be able to share more of what we are working on Avery Dennison.

AD: Thanks to you both, and I look forward to being back to talk more about the SPC Impact event!


To learn more about sustainability at Avery Dennison, visit sustainability.averydennison.com.
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