Wayne Wegner, Global Director of Sustainability for Bemis Company,
will be presenting at Focal Point 2013: Frontiers in Packaging. Bemis is a major supplier of packaging and pressure sensitive materials used by leading food, consumer products, healthcare, and other companies worldwide. Founded in 1858, the Company is included in the S&P 500 index of stocks and reported 2012 net sales of $5.1 billion. The Company's packaging business has a strong technical base in polymer chemistry, film extrusion, coating and laminating, printing, and converting. Headquartered in Neenah, Wisconsin, Bemis employs approximately 20,000 individuals in 73 manufacturing facilities in 12 countries worldwide.
Wegner has more than 35 years in the packaging industry and prior to his current position served in various senior operations and technical roles at Bemis.
WIST: What do you see as the single biggest challenge currently facing the plastic packaging industry ?
Wegner: The flexible packaging industry is an extremely competitive business. Probably the industry's biggest challenge is continuing to use new material developments (e.g. renewable materials, recycle content and stronger polymers) to bring new offerings to new markets that have traditionally been served by other forms of packaging. Also, life cycle analyses have shown that when efficient flexible packaging solutions are considered along with the protection of food products throughout their supply chain food waste is reduced. It is an ongoing challenge to get that message to the general public.
WIST: How is Bemis tackling end of life management options for flexible and multi-layer films?
Wegner: Bemis is a very active participant in several trade associations that are promoting a variety of end of life options for flexible packaging. The Flexible Packaging Association is deeply involved in evaluating the economics of energy recovery. The Sustainable Packaging Coalition, Society of the Plastics Industry and American Chemistry Council are aggressively promoting recycle opportunities where they make environmental and economic sense. In fact, Bemis is a major sponsor of a new public/private partnership in the state of Wisconsin targeting post-commercial material such as pallet wrap, poly bags, and air pillows as well as postconsumer material including carry out shopping bags, dry cleaning bags, food storage bags, bathroom tissue wrap, and case wrap-materials found in nearly every business and household-to dramatically increase plastic film recycling.
We are also working with a variety of opportunities to better utilize our own wastes to eliminate the need to landfill manufacturing scrap. We expect that some of these will have applications with our customers as well.
WIST: You've been at Bemis as its Director of Sustainability for two years now. What action by Bemis are you most proud of?
Wegner: As a global leader in flexible packaging, we at Bemis have raised our presence in the entire sustainable messaging around flexible packaging. Our engineers are considering even more sustainable solutions with our customers and are using fact based data to support developments.
WIST: In terms of innovation, what would you like to see emerging from the R&D and academic communities to facilitate sustainable growth of the plastic packaging sector?
Wegner: To facilitate sustainable growth of the flexible packaging sector we need cost-competitive renewable solutions as alternatives to our current fossil fuel based materials. These potential offerings also need to show improved performance characteristics. The academic communities need to better understand our industry's needs and better anticipate the needs of the future.
Focal Point 2013 targets challenges and opportunities in the packaging and converting industries. In addition to Wegner, the conference features a full slate of experts representing important aspects in the current landscape of the packaging and packaging-materials industry. On the program are Lisa Bauer-Lotto, Green Bay Packaging; Paul Fowler, WIST; Paul Gardner, Recycling Reinvented; Amanda Humes, Conagra Foods; Jeffrey Keithline, Keller & Heckman; Gopal Iyengar, NewPage Corporation; Chris Reitmeyer, IPS; and Jeff Timm, Timm Consulting.
Check out the conference website for speaker profiles and more conference information. Registration is now open for this conference. Early bird registration is $150 through September 27.