The world’s biggest brands including Marks & Spencer, Hotel Chocolat, Amazon, ASOS, Coca-Cola, and Beauty Pie flocked to the capital to attend Packaging Innovations and Luxury Packaging London, when the packaging community reunited at Olympia last week.
At the highly anticipated return of the UK’s most exclusive packaging show, visitors benefitted from a standout seminar line-up with specially curated content designed to offer advice on overcoming the industry’s most pressing challenges. Set across two stages, the programme welcomed the likes of PepsiCo, The Body Shop, Waitrose, Iceland, and OPRL to discuss everything from sustainability and new materials, through to design and e-commerce.
The event also launched its new discussion platform, the £10 Billion Debate, which put the Government’s latest initiatives to manage packaging waste under the microscope. Taking place on day one of the show, experts deliberated the effectiveness of Government policies including Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), the Deposit Return Scheme (DRS), and Waste Management Consistency (WMC).
During the debate, Stuart Lendrum, Head of Packaging, Quality and Food Safety at Iceland, who recently pledged to be plastic free by 2023, took a unique approach on the topic, stating: “Our existing waste management system isn’t efficient, but if EPR goes ahead then we are signing up for something that is essentially the same thing. £10bn will not be enough to create a new system that does not suffer the same major design flaws. The journey we have to go on is huge. We need a less fragmented system to the one that we have today but there is no sign of that coming through. We need more incentives and disincentives to drive the real change that’s needed.”
Sustainability was also top of the agenda at the Luxury Packaging Stage when Will Connolly, Head of Packaging Innovation & Sustainability at The Body Shop, and Simon Elmer, Global Head of NPD at William Grant & Sons, took to the stage to discuss how the changing retail landscape is posing a myriad of new challenges to packaging developers and designers. Offering advice from his experience working on The Body Shop’s project to introduce new refillable packaging, Will Connolly advised professionals: “Single-use products won’t go away overnight. But what we can do is focus on getting packaging for products like body butters and lipsticks, etc. to become fully recyclable to cut down on our use of single-use plastics whilst working on our refill, reuse concepts.”
Elsewhere, new materials were on the agenda as a panel discussion saw experts consider the response to plastic including elimination, reduction, use of recycled content, recyclability, and new materials. Emphasising the need to carefully consider new materials, Paula Chin, Sustainable Materials Specialist at WWF, commented: “We need to stop overfocussing on plastic and instead determine the hot spot of sustainability for each material, and that shouldn’t rest on a material being good if its recyclable or bad if it isn’t. We also need to reduce our use of virgin materials as we are currently exporting more material to be recycled than what is then used in production. The numbers don’t add up. Continuing to compare different materials is unproductive, every material has its own impact, so we need to be using the right material for the job, instead of playing material switch.”
The seminar line-up also featured sessions for the beauty, food, drinks, and e-commerce sectors across a range of topics from design to future technologies.
Following an 18-month hiatus, visitors and exhibitors alike were excited about the show’s return, with Christopher Brown, Senior Campaign Strategist and Print Specialist at Relish Agency, commenting: “The seminars were a really interesting look into sustainability driving consumer interest. There was so much content which you can pick up, touch, and feel. Being face to face with suppliers is also a positive benefit!”
Richard Rolls, Principal Packaging Scientist at GSK Consumer Healthcare, agrees with this sentiment, commenting: “I’ve been amazed by the new innovations and contacts I’ve made. I am more than fulfilled with what I got from the show. I’m going back home with lots of leads to follow up on after the event.”
For exhibitors, it presented the perfect opportunity to reconnect with buyers and meet new potential contacts face-to-face. Of his experience at the event his year, Rodney Steel, Chief Executive at the British Contract Manufacturers and Packers Association (BCMPA), commented: “We’ve been here since the very first show, and this has been our best ever. The quality of leads has been excellent, with people here ready to do business.”
Stewart Serls, Commercial Director at Label-Form, supports this message, commenting: “We’ve had a flow of leads from established businesses and one or two start-ups. It is lovely to be back face to face because you can have much better, positive interactions with people.”
Renan Joel, Divisional Director of Easyfairs, concludes: “I’m thrilled with how the show has gone this year. After so long without in-person events, it was important that we reignited the packaging community’s ability to do business face-to-face, which is exactly what we achieved. With a stacked line-up of experts across our seminar stages offering the latest advice to challenge perceptions, and a packed show floor of exhibitors demonstrating the very latest innovations, we were certainly back with a bang. It was fantastic to see familiar faces from across the FMCG, retail and luxury communities and I’m excited to continue this momentum into 2022.
“Thank you to everyone who joined us this year. We can’t wait to welcome you back in 2022 when we officially launch London Packaging Week.”
The next Easyfairs packaging event will be Packaging Innovations and Empack 2022, which takes place at NEC Birmingham on 16 & 17 February.