A Common Vision for Sustainability Keeps SPC Members Passionate About the Future

A few weeks ago, nearly 200 Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC) members came together for the annual 2012 SPC Fall Members Meeting. While the Fall Meeting has always been a chance for members to roll up their sleeves and shape SPC project work, this year’s meeting in Pittsburgh also gave members a chance to step back and think about the bigger picture: the future direction of the SPC.

When the SPC was formed in 2004, we had nine members and the sustainability landscape was a wide open frontier. Now in 2012, we have 200 members and counting, but the sustainable packaging landscape is also much more crowded. It was time for our members to look back at our origins in order to move forward. We began as a small group of committed companies who gave their time, effort, and funding to create a space where members could collaborate and learn from each other about leading edge sustainability practices both in packaging and also across the rest of their businesses.

Today, we are a large group of companies, but one thing I have learned over the past four years is that companies who choose membership in the SPC are nothing if not passionate about collaborating on sustainability! That characteristic has remained a key feature distinguishing SPC members from the industry at large–a claim that is confirmed year after year by the results of our annual survey of the packaging industry conducted with Packaging Digest magazine.

At this year’s Fall Meeting, member companies presented case studies demonstrating how their membership in the SPC has helped them collaborate and actually spread sustainable packaging practices up and down their supply chains and deeper within their own companies. They heard the latest about SPC-led projects, shaped by members and designed to benefit the whole industry, such as:

  • The How2Recycle label now appearing on packaging on store shelves
  • Plans to integrate SPC’s COMPASS life cycle packaging design software with Esko’s design software
  • Creation of a Voluntary Packaging Design Guide with Éco-Enterprises Québec coordinated through PAC Next
  • SPC Member-Led Working Groups starting to tackle issues such as small package recycling (think lip balms and travel sizes) and the sustainability of inks, adhesives, and coatings that are applied to packaging.

This type of project work, from the germ of a theory all the way to concrete changes in packaging available on store shelves, happens nowhere else but the SPC. This desire for real, meaningful change is truly unique to this passionate group of companies.

So, eight years later, our members continue to be leading edge companies eager to hear the latest advances and unbiased information about sustainable packaging. They don’t shy away from difficult issues and instead get down to work and ask, “Where do we start?” As positive influencers with a common vision who want to spur broad change in the marketplace, SPC members tell us that the SPC is their go-to place to share and solve problems. I speak for the entire SPC staff when I thank our members for all of their hard work over the years and say that I look forward to starting to work together on the next eight years of sustainability in packaging. And we’ll see you all in San Francisco for our 2013 SPC Spring Meeting!

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