Packaging Community Responds to the COVID-19 Outbreak

By Lisa McTigue Pierce in COVID-19 on March 27, 2020

Most packaging professionals have always felt they contribute a vital service to the world. They do. That’s more evident to the general public now because of the coronavirus pandemic. Here’s how the packaging community has been responding to the crisis.


Virtual learning opportunities abound.

Most people are taking the social distancing edict seriously. Thank you. We are finding that there is a lot of work we can do remotely.

In my earlier article “4 Ways Packaging Can Help During the Coronavirus Crisis,” I asked you to keep focused on the important packaging issues, and to keep the conversations / learnings going. As predicted, virtual events have ramped up now that in-person group events are temporarily nixed.

For example, the Sustainable Packaging Coalition had to cancel its highly valued SPC Impact conference, scheduled for late March/early April. But several sessions have been retooled as free webinars. Click here to see all the topics and times.Hurry, though, because some are taking place as soon as March 31.


Silver lining: Cooped up consumers may recycle more.

Sustainability has been and will continue to be one of the hottest issues in packaging. Even during the pandemic?

George Valiotis, CEO of glass recycler PACE Glass, thinks so.

He is predicting an uptick in sustainable practices like recycling because more people are working from home. People are consuming more materials there now, so Valiotis anticipates curbside recycling will increase by 30% to 40%.

Want to know what other consumer behavior has been affected? In a March 18 survey, L.E.K. Consulting heard from about 2,600 Americans on what they think about the outbreak’s severity and effect on the economy. Respondents also reveal what it’s meant so far for their work, leisure activities, and spending priorities. Bottom line? US consumers expect hard times ahead financially for a while.

Meanwhile … across the pond in Europe, the prognosis about recycling is quite different.

In the Waste Management World article “European Markets for Recycled Materials React in the Face of Coronavirus,” senior editors Mark Victory and Matt Tudball for Recycling at Independent Commodity Intelligence Services (ICIS), see the European recycling markets “reeling” because of the COVID-19 pandemic. They say that staff shortages may limit the ability of smaller recyclers to manage cash flow if they are unable to operate for a while. But, they also note that, of wider concern, is the impact on getting materials to and from recyclers because several countries across Europe have closed their borders, restricting the movement of goods and people. Of course, the situation in Europe is highly fluid, so we’ll have to wait to see what transpires.


Brands refit packaging lines to produce needed supplies.

To combat the spread of COVID-19, breweries, distillers, and others changeover to package sanitizers to supplement inadequate supplies. Major brands Pernod Ricard and Paris-based luxury goods company LVMH, as well as several other brands, have stepped up. Read our March 24 article here.

Since then, we’ve heard from Cardinal Spirits, a craft distillery in Bloomington, Indiana. The company’s director of communications, Erica Sagon, tells us that its hand sanitizer operations have gone “from side hustle to full time. By the end of the week, we’ll have made 5,000 gallons of hand sanitizer, much of which we’ve donated. And by early next week, 5,000 gallons more.”


Global leader in compounding pharmaceutical production and an 503B FDA-registered outsourcing firm with cleanroom production facilities, Qualgen is producing hand sanitizer — in 16-ounce, 32-ounce, gallon options, and larger-batch forms for tote tanks — as well as saline, dextrose, and common-mix intravenous solutions (IVs), as well as some other key pharmaceuticals, for home health and hospitals.



Packaging industry groups pledge support.

Packaging suppliers stay on the job to fulfill your needs.

The nation’s supply chain is delivering.

A personal note


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