Peter Orisich, CEO Flexible Packaging & Engineered Materials and Beatrix Praeceptor, Chief Procurement Officer attended the Forum to contribute, listen and learn – here is what they had to say on the subject of sustainability and innovation as a catalyst for change.
Sustainability is a broad term, what does it mean for you and for Mondi?
PO: Sustainability is a mindset and goes to the heart of Mondi's strategy, purpose and culture.
We take pride in working closely with our customers - we call it our EcoSolutions approach - and it means that in partnership, we can all work together to create the best possible packaging solutions, for our customers, consumers and the environment. We focus on being sustainable by design, thinking not just about materials that we use but taking a broad approach of sustainable systems and circular economies.
BP: For us, to make the best sustainable packaging choices, we need to take a holistic approach that considers the entire value chain. The challenge is creating environmentally-responsible packaging as well as improvements in operational processes: for example production, logistics, sourcing and distribution – the whole process, from start to finish, needs to work effectively to meet sustainable goals.
Can you give examples of how you champion sustainability in the workplace?
PO: We have set out our sustainability framework for the next decade in our Mondi Action Plan 2030 (MAP2030).
Our three focus areas are:
Circular-driven solutions – we are committed to making innovative packaging and paper solutions that keep materials in circulation and prevent waste. This includes asking questions on how we extend the circular mindset not just for solutions but to establish a credible circular supply chain.
Empowered people – creating an inclusive environment where we can speak up openly and collaborate to come to the right answers for our workplace, customers, suppliers and the communities in which we operate so that we can all contribute to a better world.
Taking action on climate – We want to focus on climate resilience through our forests and operations for the future of the planet This includes reducing our greenhouse gas emissions in line with science based targets, sourcing from healthy and resilient forests, and safeguarding biodiversity and water not only in our operations but also beyond by working collaboratively with partners.
MAP2030 is grounded on a foundation of responsible business practices spanning business ethics and governance, human rights, communities, procurement and environmental impact.
We don’t have all the answers yet – but we do know that by collaborating we will get to our goal of a more connected and sustainable world. We want to be part of the solution.
For us, to make the best sustainable packaging choices, we need to take a holistic approach that considers the entire value chain.
How far can innovation go?
PO: We are proud to be recognised for our innovation and ability to create forward thinking solutions for thousands of local and global brands. Our R&D centres and innovation activities span the entire value chain. We really do believe that this drive and determination can answer tomorrow's problems.
For example, food waste is a global issue with 33% of the world’s food lost or wasted every year. In Europe, waste is highest across food groups requiring refrigeration or careful handling, and we want to play our part to ensure the packaging is sustainable by design and addresses the issue of food loss. Mondi's PerFORMing removable range uses paper where possible – significantly reducing the carbon footprint of a product, and plastic when useful, to extend the shelf life and help prevent food waste.
Another example is our recent collaboration with Tesco Central Europe to meet their ambitious net zero emission goals and closing the loop by working across the whole supply chain. We recycle Tesco’s existing corrugated packaging waste and then transform it into EcoVantage paper. By working alongside our converter network, shopping bags are produced that are used by customers of Tesco Central Europe. This partnership helps Tesco work towards their sustainability goal, using recycled and fresh fibres that are combined to deliver a recyclable and high-performing shopping bag. This is one of our examples of how we are trying to contribute to a better world.
Has the pandemic helped to create a more collaborative mindset or the opposite?
BP: The global response to the COVID-19 pandemic has shown that we have the ability to collaborate and innovate as a global society when it comes to solving urgent issues impacting humanity.
Mondi's global procurement network mobilised in response to the pandemic and reached new levels of collaboration. One challenge was the increase in market demand for films, resins and solvents, which are used in PPE and hygiene components, as well as our packaging. Our teams around the world worked together, shifting materials between operations to keep supplies flowing and production running.
We need to use this mind set to re-set the balance on finding solutions to global issues which we might not have the answers to at the moment.
This means building business models that start with collaboration along the value chain and not in individual silos so that we can prioritise innovation as well as collaboration and turn ideas into reality.
How can we collaborate more on a European level?
PO: We observe many different legislative initiatives across Europe addressing recycling and the education of consumers. However, these initiatives could be better aligned with each other to help steer FMCG businesses on how to address the different legal frameworks as efficiently as possible.
Mondi is cooperating closely with leading waste processors and recyclers across the Continent which puts us in a position to assess the differing situations regarding the collection, sorting and recycling in every European country.
With regards to the education of the end-consumer we observe the same issue: diverse regulations across individual countries leading to non-aligned recycling structures and processes which makes it difficult to place unified handling instructions on how to dispose of the packaging.
The challenge is big, but by working collaboratively and openly, we will find the right answers.
Mondi sponsored a panel session at EFA and were joined by Margarete Schramböck – Federal Minister for Digital and Economic Affairs, Austria, Marco ten Bruggencate – The Dow Chemical Company, Commercial Vice President Packaging & Specialty Plastics EME, and Michaela Reisenbichler – MAM Baby, Chief Operating Officer.
The session was moderated by Katharina Moser.
European Forum Alpbach is an interdisciplinary platform for science, politics, business and culture. Established in 1945, the annual European Forum Alpbach addresses relevant socio-political questions, connecting international decision-makers from all our sectors of society with an interested audience and committed young people.