Knowledge Exchange Event 2021

Responsibility and Plastic Packaging: Exploring the issues for the packaging supply chain


On September 23rd, 2021, the PPiPL presented its first Knowledge Exchange Event, "Responsibility and Plastic Packaging: Exploring the issues for the packaging supply chain".

Gathering academics and practitioners working on sustainability and plastic packaging, this digital event was attended by an audience of 66 participants and 11 speakers from academia and the industry, connecting from all around the world.

LUMS Acting Dean Professor Claire Leitch and the PPiPL Principal Investigators Professor Maria Piacentini and Dr Alison Stowell welcomed the participants. Professor Leitch presented the efforts of LUMS in tackling issues related to plastic packaging and mentioned the role of LUMS in educating the next generation of leaders on these issues.

It followed a deep-dive presentation by Mr Ian Schofield, Butler's Farmhouse Cheeses and Iceland, who talked about the challenges and opportunities of making plastic packaging sustainable. Further on, the audience could join in the "Plastic Packaging Debate", featuring a "trial" for the retailing company Coca Cola, charged to be a "global polluter". The debate saw Dr Amy Benstead, University of Manchester, the Prosecutor, and PPiPL Research Associate Dr Charlotte Hadley, the Defence, discussing whether or not Coca Cola was guilty of the charges. Mr Schofield sat as the judge while the attendees to the Knowledge Exchange Event played the jury.

The following sessions focused on the preliminary project findings from the literature on responsibility and plastic packaging in three project working areas: pre-consumption, consumption and post-consumption.

Professor Linda Hendry led the pre-consumption session and hosted Professor Paul Coughlan and Mr Gonzalo Espiga Paraiso, Trinity College Dublin, who discussed responsible supply chains. The session concluded with Dr Savita Verma, PPiPL Research Associate, who presented findings from the literature explored for that theme.

Dr James Cronin and Dr Alex Skandalis hosted the session focusing on consumption. Dr Caroline Moraes, University of Birmingham, outlined ways of rethinking consumer responsibility within the single-use plastic packaging debates, and Dr Charlotte Hadley offered insights from the literature about the discussed topic.

Dr Alison Stowell moderated the post-consumption session that saw Prof Herve Corvellec, Lund University, talking about the "normalisation of waste". Dr Matteo Saltalippi, PPiPL Research Associate, presented findings from analysing the literature on the studied issue.

This event concluded with Professor Maria Piacentini and Dr Alison Stowell's final remarks that highlighted the themes discussed in the previous sessions. These included the importance of paying attention to responsibility and making informed choices, the complexity of addressing plastic packaging sustainably, how solutions rely on collaboration and interdisciplinarity. Recognising the challenges and the opportunities ahead, the two PPiPL Principal Investigators stressed the importance of events like this workshop to carry on the conversation between academia and industry on these critical topics.