Pact chairman Raphael Geminder told the audience at the End Of Waste event hosted to launch the company's white paper of the same name in Melbourne that, “We are on a journey, and it is terrifying."
Introducing the main speaker, sustainability provocateur Dr Leyla Acaroglu, to an invited audience at Pact division Impact Innovation's premises, Geminder said, “We are getting right out of our comfort zone, as a packaging company it is an incredibly confronting space.
“However, we have two choices, to ignore the noise and tell ourselves we will be ok, or we can embrace change, which is the path we at Pact is now on. It is hard to know where to begin, but there is a bright solution ahead I am sure.
“I am excited about the white paper End of Waste we release today. We have worked long and hard on it. The company has set new ambitious goals, where we want to reach an end of waste by 2025.
The End of Waste white paper looks at the economic cost of change and the economic cost of inertia, it articulates current opportunities facing the industry, and proposes solutions to end household waste.
Pact has a clear strategy for itself, Geminder said, “We will focus on our three objectives; to reduce, re-use and recycle. We have set tough targets, for instance by 2025 we will re-use all single-use secondary supermarket packaging, and will use 30 per cent recycled material across our entire portfolio, today we recycle seven per cent. We have a huge job ahead.”
Guest speaker at the event Dr Acaroglu came with an impressive set of credentials, including working with the highest levels of governments and the UN, her TED talk on disruptive design has been viewed more than a million times.
In a captivating presentation Dr Acaroglu told the guests that the linear systems that humans currently use - manufacture, consume, dump - need to move to circular systems where waste is valued, in much the same way that nature itself operates a circular system which values and uses waste for good.
She said, “Nothing in nature is wasted, once a first purpose is finished it contributes to another purpose, everything is interconnected, and we humans need to realise this too.
“Our waste is a basic design flaw, plastic bottles going into the ocean mean that we have only gone so far along the process, we haven't thought about their use post-consumption. As a society we have normalised waste, and that has to change.”
Dr Aracoglu though said that the transition to a circular economy was underway, led in in part by the corporations that have contributed to waste, she said, “Circularity is now a mega trend, with countless examples of big companies making big commitments, like Pact. Ikea has said it will be fully circular by 2030 and will be climate positive by then, Lego has committed to blocks that are not petroleum based, the list is long.”
She said that if humans do nothing 'we're screwed' pointing out that for instance 30 per cent of our food is from the ocean, which is awash with microplastics, that are now entering the human body thanks to the seafood we eat.
However, she believed that the human race would be able to push back against waste, pointing to the Montreal Protocol signed in 1987 to ban CFCs, and which has led to the hole in the ozone layer closing.
She said that designers need now to think about the full lifecyle for packaging, and move away from only thinking as far as the point of consumption.
She said, “We have to close the loop from the start. We need to implement end to end integrated systems, where input become outputs become inputs."
Click here to download the full Pact white paper.
Click here to view Dr Aracoglu's TED talk.