When it comes to sustainable packaging, embrace the fear

Robert Lilienfeld in Sustainable Packaging on May 24, 2017

We don’t have to remind you that the packaging world is being shaken by many large-scale trends:

• The continued drive by legislators, non-government organizations (NGOs) and consumers for increased sustainability and waste reduction.
• Digital transformation and e-commerce shifting power across the value chain.
• Massive CPG consolidation that reduces jobs and increases uncertainty.
• Ongoing globalization and emerging market growth.
• New materials that challenge existing recovery channels.

Separately and together, these trends represent something that makes most of us afraid: change.

We hate change. Why? Because we’re addicted to the present, to the status quo. It’s comfortable. It’s predictable. It’s navigable.

But, here’s the thing: Change is coming.

And you know it. In fact, fear is your mind’s way of telling you it’s coming, because your unconscious has already accepted it. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be afraid.

Plus, the more you fear, the more certain you are deep down that things will be different. Possibly very different. Possibly very soon.

Don’t run from the fear.

Swallow it. Embrace it. And most importantly, use it.

Instead of mourning the past, celebrate the future. Envision what can be, rather than what is.

When you do so, you’ll turn the negative energy of fear into the positive energy of success. Why? Because innovation happens when we define, re-define, and solve problems and face our fears in both big ways and small.

Retort and aseptic packaging are examples of changes that created fear and uncertainty. So are the introduction of biopolymers and new package convenience features that enhance ease of use (think resealable closures). All started with a desire to create something better by solving a problem, enhancing existing benefits, or both.

Many have said, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." They were content with the status quo. But visionaries embraced uncertainty and channeled their energies to imagine and create a future of possibilities.

So, if you want to protect and grow your packaging business, the first step is simple. But it’s also hard.

Face your fear. Admit that change is coming. Welcome it. And use it to prognosticate, invigorate, motivate and innovate.

Remember: Your most valuable asset doesn’t operate between your factory walls. It operates between your ears. Use it well and use it wisely.

 

Authors Robert (Bob) Lilienfeld (left) and Brian Wagner are senior directors at AMERIPEN, helping the packaging industry shape and benefit from the future. Lilienfeld has been involved with sustainable packaging for more than 20 years and is currently editor of The ULS (Use Less Stuff) Report.Wagner’s 30-year professional career as an entrepreneurial business and technical leader spanned Packaging Technology Integrated Solutions (co-founder of PTIS), Kellogg's, Sara Lee, Multiform Desiccants, Carton-Craft Corp., Burger King and General Foods.

Photo credit: Designed by Freepik

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