Industry giants to debate future of plastics at Packaging Innovations

ORGANISERS of Packaging Innovations have revealed that a number of major brands are set to participate in this year’s Big Plastics Debate.

Experts from the likes of Marks & Spencer, Pepsi Lipton and Church & Dwight Co., together with British Plastics Federation, A Plastic Planet and WRAP, will come together at the event to debate plastics in packaging.


The Big Plastics Debate, which will be hosted on the Ecopack stage, will explore the future of plastics and reflect on the pledges made by brands over the past year.

From Marks & Spencer’s initiative to turn non-recyclable plastic into playground equipment, through to Iceland’s bottle return scheme, the issue of plastic in packaging has been the sector’s hot topic. Following its launch last year, the return of the Big Plastics Debate provides a platform to reassess the situation one-year on.

The debate will take place across both days of the event, which returns to Birmingham’s NEC on 27 & 28 February.

Day one’s debate will be chaired by Martin Kersh, executive director of the Foodservice Packaging Association (FPA). It will commence with the Ecopack Challenge, where six companies will present their sustainable packaging solutions as they battle it out for the chance to work with Marks & Spencer, and the prize of Ecopack Challenge Winner for 2019.

This will be followed by The Big Debate, where two teams will debate whether plastic packaging will always play a fundamental part in our lives. Speakers will have five minutes each to make their case, before the debate is opened up to questions from the floor, followed by an audience vote.

The circular economy takes centre stage the following day. Chaired by Jane Bevis, chair of OPRL, the debate will see panelists tackle two key areas. The first debate, ‘Designing Packaging for a Circular Economy’, will welcome Andy Rees, the Welsh Government’s head of waste strategy, who was recently awarded an OBE for services to the environment and recycling. Also joining the panel will be Paul Day (senior packaging technologist at Church & Dwight Co.), Peter Maddox (director of WRAP), Stuart Foster (RECOUP CEO), and Clover Abbott (global sustainable packaging manager at Pepsi Lipton), who will discuss what designers and technologists need to consider when designing sustainable packaging.

The Big Plastics Debate will end with the ‘Recruiting Consumers for a Circular Economy’ panel, which will consider how the packaging community can influence consumers to change their habits to help reduce plastic waste. Panelists will include Carole Taylor (chair of LARAC) and Jos Harrison (global design strategy director at RB).

James Drake-Brockman, divisional director of Easyfairs’ Packaging Portfolio said, “Since the Big Plastics Debate launched in 2018, we have seen many global brands taking steps towards creating greener packaging solutions, but the issue still remains prolific, as consumers and regulatory bodies increasingly demand more sustainable packaging and plastic alternatives.

“The return of the Big Plastics Debate offers us a fantastic opportunity to bring together some of the biggest names in the industry to continue the discussion and tackle the issues our industry is currently facing, including the circular economy. The debate provides a platform for all sides of the debate, from many areas of expertise, to discuss the issue in a balanced manner. It is certainly not to be missed.”