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Educational opportunities offered by conferences

From an educational perspective, the Conference at PACK EXPO delivered significant results. The Conference at PACK EXPO featured 44 packaging technology and market-focused presentations from companies such as Avery Dennison, Kraft, Molson-Coors Brewing and Nestlé. This year, 918 packaging professionals attended the Conference at PACK EXPO, making it the most widely attended forum in the industry.

"The Conference at PACK EXPO continues to be the single largest educational opportunity available in the industry today. The key to its success is the dynamic, success-oriented focus the educational sessions maintain," says Charles D. Yuska, PMMI's president. "Year after year, PMMI research clearly indicates that time out of the office is extremely precious. It's critical that attendees get the most value out of their visit to a show. The Conference at PACK EXPO delivers this value with cutting-edge topics coupled with leading innovation exhibits."

The following are summaries from two of the keynote sessions.

The conference program kicked off the first day of the show with a presentation by John Delfausse, vp, packaging development, Aveda, on "Packaging Sustainability for Dummies (and Smart Packaging Pros)." Delfausse defined sustainability as meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. The term "Cradle to Cradle" he explained as, "a world powered entirely by renewable energy. All products are made from either biological nutrients that replenish the earth after use, or technical nutrients that are perpetually recycled."

"Our mission at Aveda is to care for the world we live in, from the products we make to the ways in which we give back to society," he said. "At Aveda, we strive to set an example for environmental leadership and responsibility, not just in the world of beauty, but around the world." He explained that Aveda designs with single materials or components that can be separated for recycling and reuse. In addition to using recycled materials where possible, they also select materials that will have the minimum impact to the environment throughout their entire life cycle.

The following day started with a keynote address from Helmut Traitler, vp, packaging at Nestec Ltd., on "The Packaging Innovation Process: From Concept to Launch." The food industry used to view packaging as a cost factor, a technical hurdle, a nuisance that only packaging people could come up with, and just a protector of the product, he said. "Today, we envision packaging as expressing the soul of a product; a powerful communication vehicle; a strong sales argument; an enabler for the supply chain; an opportunity for marketing; the last differentiator for consumers; and a design opportunity," he explained.

In order to achieve full alignment with Nestlé's vision, the company needed to introduce cultural and operational changes to establish a packaging innovation culture, Traitler explained. "At Nestlé, we strive for a consistent and disciplined innovation process, yet allow for free thinking. By putting together many known elements in a smart and efficient way, we have created our FastPack(TM) process." FastPack is a broad-based innovation and ideation process with structure and discipline. Through traditional brainstorming, it created hundreds of concept ideas in a relatively short period of time, typically two days. "Most importantly, it forces the ideation team to select not more than four to five concepts, based on each individual's field of expertise," said Traitler. About one out of three selected concepts ends up on the store shelf. "In the future, outstanding design will be the breaking point for all products and packages," he concluded.

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