An important part of the calendar for packaging professionals is attending trade shows. it gives us a good opportunity to catch up with our industry colleagues, find out what is new from the exhibitors and to attend seminars given by industry leaders. At the time of writing, it is just under two weeks to the next big Packaging trade show – Packaging Innovations, co-located with Luxury Packaging on 11th – 12th Sept 2019 at Olympia in London.
If you’re anything like me, you’ll come away with a couple of plastic carrier bags full of leaflets, brochures, pens and, to be frank, useless plastic tatt, which ends up languishing in a corner of the house. I have a drawer full of average quality pens, lanyards that are too good to throw away and no end of plastic carrier bags, and even worse reusable carrier bags, with an industrial company logo that I wouldn’t want to be seen with in normal life cluttering up my kitchen. At least the leaflets and brochures can go into the recycling when I’m done with them! That was until February this year when I made the change at Packaging Innovations in Birmingham. I now try to make my visits to trade shows zero-waste, it’s not that hard, it just takes a bit of remembering stuff.
This was my kit in Feb –
- Lanyard – I was fully prepared to look a bit odd wearing last year’s lanyard, as it turned out, they were exactly the same. Tbh I was a little disappointed that no-one could tell I was reusing an old one!
- Reusable bag, the older the better. Back in February I challenged my Linked-in contacts to do exactly that. Below is me with my collegue Dr Peter Cox from the Plastics Consultancy Network – mine was from just 2018 – Peter won with one from the 1980s! It should be cool to use old stuff.
- Keep-cup – meeting up with colleagues for a cuppa means I must get through at least 4 cups a day – that means taking a reusable cup saves 8 unrecyclable paper cups from landfill/ incineration = smug feeling.
- Pen – I take my own (and a notebook) so I’m not tempted to take a free one.
- Hankie – meant I used fewer single-use napkins
- Business Cards – These are hard to give up, and unless your company specialises in zero-waste solutions, it seems really rude to refuse one. I am also fully aware that mine are laminated on both sides which made them difficult to recycle. Next time I order some I’ll change that.
So did it work? On the whole, yes I think. I came back with a few free copies of Packaging News to give to colleagues, a couple of samples of novel materials and not much else. At this particular show you’re given an RFID tag in your badge which means you can ‘check-in’ at stands, the exhibitors then send info over email, so no brochures/leaflets required. I was, however, disappointed to see that I was only one or two people using reusables in any way – and was especially disappointed to see the number of single-use plastic water bottles being left on the tables at a certain NGO’s stand who should have known better!
A report prepared by ThePackHub and recently published by the Packaging Innovation organisers Easyfairs highlighted that 43.2% of industry stakeholders are investigating reuse or refill options for their products. If that includes you, will you put your money where your mouth is and join me on 11th-12th september (or whichever your next visit to a trade show is) by trying one or two of the waste-saving options above?
I plan to be at Olympia for the full two days – I’m especially looking forward to the discussions on compostable packaging, and will be on the IOM3 stand (H44) around about lunchtime on the 12th as part of the The Packaging Society‘s Packaging Surgery. If you see me, show me your reuseable bag (or tweet me at @GreenwoodPkg) and I’ll buy a cuppa (in a reusable cup) for whoever has the oldest one, can’t say fairer than that!
Sarah Greenwood MSc(Eng) FIMMM APkgPrf is a Sustainable Packaging specialist. She is currently leading a proof of concept study at the Grantham Centre for Sustainable Futures at the University of Sheffield on reusable packaging. This is part of the UKRI funded project Plastics: Redefining Single Use . She is also an independent consultant www.scgreenwood.co.uk #plastics #RedefiningSingleUse #Reuse