Waste360 is part of the Informa Markets Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Episode 101: Making Sustainable Packaging the Norm (Transcript)

TAGS: Recycling
W360_NothingWasted_Podcast_ReynaBryan_1540x800.png

[00:00:00] Liz Bothwell: Hi everyone, welcome to Waste360's NothingWasted! Podcast. On every episode, we invite the most interesting people in waste recycling and organics to sit down with us and chat candidly about their thoughts, their work, this unique industry and so much more. Thanks for listening and enjoy this episode.

[music]

[00:00:27] Liz: Hi everyone. This is Liz Bothwell from Waste360 with Reyna Bryan, President of RCD Packaging. Hi, Reyna, and thanks for being on the show today.

[00:00:36] Reyna Bryan: Hi, Liz. Thanks for having me.

[00:00:38] Liz: Reyna and I were on a sustainability packaging webinar together, and I knew once we were on that webinar that we had to chat more though. I'm so happy to have her today. Reyna, we usually set the stage at the very beginning. Could you please share a bit about your background and how you ended up in packaging?

[00:00:59] Reyna: Yes, absolutely. It's a bit of a long story, I'll keep it short. I've been just obsessed with materials and material management for as long as I can remember, which is a weird thing to have as an obsession, but I was just, as a little girl, really concerned about seeing trash cans overflowing with materials, and I knew if I saw that in my little town, then I could just extrapolate that out to the whole world. I was like, "Something's wrong here".

That's what really has inspired my journey into sustainable packaging innovation. I started with a degree in mechanical engineering and material science, and then I also studied engineering management, which is like an MBA for nerds. Those two different schools of thought have allowed me to understand materials and manufacturing, but also how to bring new technologies into the market, how to actually build businesses, and support businesses into pulling new materials because my work is really all around transforming supply chains.

I really think that we, as a species, have the capability to produce goods, services, and create amazing offerings for one another. We can do that without being destructive to our natural systems. That's what inspires the work that I do. I've been doing sustainable packaging 10 years, I got into the space looking at flexible films and saying, "How can we design these so that their design could go away, they could actually compost?" That was the entry point into my journey of packaging manufacturing.
I worked with a biopolymer compounding, film extrusion, printer converting, all the way up to the brand side, where I worked with a lot of brands to say, "Okay, how can we design this package such that it protects the product, it looks good on the shelf, and really understanding the needs of the brand working backward?" In all that, such an important part of the work that we do is designing with the end in mind, and end-of-life.

The materials that we work with, they have to work in all aspects of production manufacturing, but they also have to have a real end-of-life solution, whether it's fully recyclable or fully compostable. That gives you a little bit of a landscape of the work I do, and what I'm passionate about.

[00:03:45] Liz: I love that you're actually creating packaging with the end-of-life in mind because, as you do know, that's not always the case.

[00:03:52] Reyna: Yes. What I found as an engineer, over the years, is that a lot of these materials that we're using today, the conventional plastics, there's a lot of engineering and brilliance that went into them. These are high-performance materials, they protect the product well with UV protection and oxygen barrier, moisture barrier, works well in all these different manufacturing applications, but yes, they were not designed with the end in mind.

It's really hard to try to put that thought in as an endnote. We have an opportunity now, many people are stepping back and looking at this in a way of saying, "Okay, how can we redesign the way that we are making products, the selection of materials, and using that?" The end markets and end-of-life as the driver of the design.
[00:04:49] Liz: I love that. Tell me, what type of materials are working well in considering the full value chain and the end-of-life?

[00:04:56] Reyna: That's a great question, that's a challenging one to answer because it's really application-specific. What I mean by that is I'm in the world of consumer-packaged goods, and there's many different packaging formats, you can classify them into the two main schools of thought, rigid and flexibles. Right now in the world of flexibles, they're made out of a lot of different materials, but you might see a PET laminated to low-density polyethylene and aluminum.

That's the conventional structure, but that although a beautiful engineered structure and its performance does not have a good end-of-life situation. That's why we spent a lot of work innovating that space. But in the rigid, you do see a lot of plastics in this space, PET, polypropylene. Those two plastics do have stronger end markets, but still not very strong. Not strong enough end markets, in my personal opinion, based on the material flow. You think about it as a math balance equation.

Glasses is an interesting one as well, we love glass from a product design standpoint because it's a beautiful material, it is recyclable, it doesn't leech, and so a lot of people and brands like to use that material, but as you do know, the recycling story is a challenging one because it's all based on end markets and it's all based on local end markets. There's a lot of work to do from a product design standpoint, also an infrastructure standpoint, and opportunities for us to work together to make sure that the products that we're putting into the world have local end markets that can receive that, and actually want that material.

That's something we can talk a little bit more about, but it's a challenging question to answer because definitely really based on what performance you're looking for and what type of packaging you need from a brand side.
[00:07:18] Liz: I bet, so many questions. I applaud you because I did see that you did your Redefined Flexible Films Workshop with many CPG brands like Mars, Whole Foods, PepsiCo, and even waste management companies. Can we dig into that? Can you tell me how that went and what your takeaways were? I'd love to hear more.

[00:07:41] Reyna: Absolutely. That was a really exciting process. In my work, the sustainable packaging innovation-- A lot of my work has been looking at this from a high-level perspective and saying, "Okay, why aren't more sustainable solutions on the market today? What are some of the inherent blocks to innovation that are happening?" We're unconscious of them and they're unseen, but, "What's happening to make it so that sustainable solutions aren't more readily available?"
I'd say that for the first seven years of my career, sustainable packaging innovation, it was like pushing a rope. It was really hard to get manufacturers to try new materials on their line, we had to work with brands to get a collective interest, collective buy-in, and there was a lot of collaborative negotiation happening just to get some new materials trialed online.

I decided to do something outside the box and breakthrough idea of, "Let's bring the entire industry together and go through a design thinking style innovation workshop." No big deal, it sounds like an easy undertaking, no problem [laughs] but what I ended up doing was inviting experts from across the flexible film packaging supply chain. We focused on flexible film because it is one of the most complex packaging format, highly engineered. It needs to protect from moisture, protects from oxygen. It needs to be able to be formed and field on specific equipment, but there's no end-of-life.

These flexible films of today, they are lightweight, they easily escape the system, they're a major contributor to ocean plastic. The waste management system and our partners on the material management side are struggling to find a way to make sense of these materials.  That's why we focused on this particular packaging format in this work, and I invited experts from across that value chain. We had resin compounders, we had film extruders, printer converters, brands and co-packers, we even had retailers and waste managers, we had Recology and Eco-Cycle holding space with us. We did have some educators and some bio mimics.

We put all these people together, 80 experts, kicked off February of 2020. We're all going, the plan was going to be to do two-thirds of the workshop remote, and then meet in person in San Francisco in September. We all know that didn't happen because of COVID. We had to pivot and make the entire design thinking workshop remote, and it was a really inspiring process because you have this space where you have all these different perspectives coming into the same room, people that spend all day long making sure that film is to spec running on their lines, and it's producing an excellent product.

You have people concerned every single day on the brand side making sure that their products are on shelf, then that the ingredients are quality. All these people are coming from a different perspective of the system with their own unique challenges to be aware of. In working with this process, we started out defining the problem, we wove in and throughout this design thinking workshop, which is a style of innovation collaboration, we wove throughout it educational content because I wanted to make sure that everybody was on the same playing field in the definitions and the words we were using, in understanding concepts of different parts of the system.

Throughout the design thinking process, we had experts come in to educate us about recycling and end-of-life, composting that process. Flexible film, how it's made, what are some of the materials that are used today? What are some of the challenges of end-of-life? Polymer scientists, what are the conventional polymers versus the new biopolymers? Throughout this process, which was a ten-month process, we not only did innovation work, but we also established a foundation of knowledge, which is a unique approach to design thinking, but I felt like it was super critical because of the different perspectives, and expertise we had all jumbled in one group.

I'll just say this, one of the things that I think really allowed this to be successful or help this be successful is that we all came in with aligned values and intent. The question, the driving question that brought us together was, how can we deliver products to our customers or our consumers in a way that allows us to differentiate ourselves on the market, but creates no waste in the process or zero waste? That was the question that got us all to come together, and it's definitely a question that forces you to step outside of your world a bit, outside of your box, and start really understanding the entire supply chain.

The next question we asked the group was, what does a zero-waste world mean to you? That question, another mind-opening question, I was surprised to see how people responded. Some of the ways that we interacted as this large group was we had these interactive webinars where we'd have experts talking, and we would have these tools that would allow people to answer in real-time, they would just text their answer, and in real-time it was populated on the screen. It was really cool, I think it was called PollEv. We found that to be really helpful with this big group.

When I asked them, "What does a zero-waste world mean to you?" I didn't know what we were going to get. We had engineers, scientists, and conservative CPGs, I wasn't sure, but it was very inspiring to see the words that began to populate the space, clean oceans, compostable, back to nature. These concepts became the guiding light for the group of what is the direction that we can turn all our boats to start rolling in that same direction. The process ticked off like that, and I think that really set us up for success because it's not an easy thing to do to bring that many different types of people together to work towards innovation.

[00:15:15] Liz: It's just amazing that you got so many stakeholders, for lack of a better word, in the same room together, that you were able to pivot like you did, and do it virtually over such an extended period of time. I know you talked about some of what you discussed in the takeaways. Now, I know from the work that you're doing, you want this to be continue progress. Are you tracking the outcomes from it on an ongoing basis? How is that working?

[00:15:41] Reyna: As a result of the workshop, we did have over 1,500 ideas generated. The first group of ideas was, what are blocking us from achieving a zero-waste world? And those ideas helped really paint the landscape of challenges that we're dealing with. What was cool about that was we did see that, even though we were focused on flexible film, flexible film essentially serve as a proxy for all other materials and material management as we flushed out the challenges of trying to design products for a zero-waste world.

From that, the group looked at whether recycling, composting, reuse was the right zone for solutions. We flushed out solutions in all those different solutions states, and then it seemed the group began to migrate towards the compostable side of things because they were really interested in these concepts of, "What if we thought of things differently instead of just designing something to be compostable? What if we started from the needs of soil and designed backward?" Which I thought was really fascinating to see the group move that direction.

We started looking into soil health, and are there microbes and elements in the soil that can also perform in terms of barrier, moisture and oxygen barrier, or other characteristics of packaging. That was an interesting exploration. We also looked at challenges around funding. One of the challenges that the group identified was that there is not enough resources going into the development of these new solutions. They've identified that, "Hey, we need to really rethink and reimagine materials in order to get to this new state where the packaging that we're creating is such that it doesn't create habits on natural systems. How do we get funding to those areas?"

Out of the work that we did, over a thousand ideas generated, we had nine incubation teams that came together and worked for an extra six months to bring some of their ideas to life. We had projects ranging from driving change through consumer awareness, composting education in schools, soil centric, packaging design, crowdfunding for research and development of new compostable materials, and we even had a group that looked to biomimicry, which biomimicry, if you haven't heard of that school of thought it's this beautiful methodology for innovation and design where you look to nature to inspire your design.

In nature, there's different organisms and different plants that actually do have functionality of interest. One of the things that we look to in designing packaging is how to control moisture vapor, which is a very specific functionality. There's a lot of different elements or different creatures and plants in nature that are doing that, they have an element of their shell or an element of their body that is managing moisture vapor. This group is looking to see if they can identify the micro patterns in the materials in nature that are doing that, so we can bring it back to flexible film.

Of these nine incubation projects, there's three that are still continuing after that. Actually four, the policy group is still going strong. The crowdfunding for research and development, actually I think I can speak to that, Evan White from UGA is working with some major retailer partners and has put together a way of collecting funding, and directing that funding to early-stage R&D efforts. You're going to see more about that, if you haven't tracked Evan White, definitely ask what he's up to.
Then, that biomimicry team is called Team Flextures, and they're doing some really cool work. They're starting to talk with different partners for funding their early-stage development around identifying micro patterns in nature that have that performance characteristic of moisture vapor, management, and containment. A lot of cool things, I could nerd out all day as you can see. I'm a big nerd [laughs]. But there are some cool things that are still in motion here.

[00:20:58] Liz: I love that. I love that you had in mind pilots coming out of the incubation, and you're following that. This is just all very cool. I know that compostable materials are hard, and people say, "Biodegradable is great, but it never truly disappears." What are some of the other challenges around both of those things? I'm sure you could go on for days, but I would love to hear more about that.


[00:21:25] Reyna: Yes. The biodegradable and compostable materials of today are very early-stage technologies. There's a lot of room for improvement. One of the challenges that we have in the world of compostable is infrastructure. I know everybody, from a theoretical standpoint, wish that there was curbside compost collection available everywhere. That's not necessarily. Also, there's only a small percentage of those that will also take compostable packaging. I've visited different compost manufacturers, and I understand why.

Those composters run their systems optimize to what product they're trying to deliver, they might turn around their composting process in a matter of 90 days, or even shorter. A lot of these compostable materials, especially PLA, if they don't reach a certain temperature for enough time, you're not going to get the degradation you're looking for. Also, it's really hard to discern, what's a compostable flexible film versus the conventional? They look almost identical.
Technology on the front end to sort these materials it's going to be an important part of making this more of a mainstream offering. Also, I think the packaging, again, the compostable packaging is today early-stage technologies, needs a lot more energy and intellect threw into it to really get them to where they need to be, but today we can make compostable packaging that works very well with dry shelf-stable goods, and there's room for improvement for things in the frozen category, or things that have more moisture in the product itself.

I think that the materials of the future will have included in them, designing to the needs of nature, designing such that bringing nutrients to the next cycle. That's the direction that I would like to see these products and materials move towards as we're thinking about what types of materials to introduce into the supply chain.

[00:24:00] Liz: That's exciting, there's a lot to look forward to, there's a ton of innovation happening and people like you are moving it forward. That's fantastic.

[00:24:09] Reyna: Yes. I think-

[00:24:11] Liz: Go ahead.

[00:24:12] Reyna: I just get very excited about it too, that's all I would say.

[laughter]

[00:24:16] Liz: [laughs] I love it. As you should. I know you mentioned the policy group within the workshop that you did, are you involved at all in the policy side of things that's required to support? And move away from a plastic packaging-centric economy, are you getting involved in that? I know you support it, but I just wonder your role.  

[00:24:42] Reyna: Yes. I'll say this, as a young engineer, I was just really frustrated to see how slow policy moves in this country. I was the head lost faith a little bit in our country's ability to affect change in that direction. That's why most of my career was, "How can we create the right market dynamics to pull through positive change? How do we help brands know what options are available so that they can demand the right things? How do we make sure that they have the technologies available?"
I've been spending majority of my career on market side and market dynamics affect change, but I am understanding a lot more about the power of policy and how that can make things really challenging for us. I am definitely interested in supporting positive policy or policy that would help speed up innovation in the right direction.

I know our groups, we're definitely interested in talking about extended producer responsibility. They were also very interested in how to get the true cost calculations or somehow make sure that plastics, conventional plastics, which are considered super cheap in the packaging world, but the externalities, the cost to the environment, the cost to society, human health are not included in that price, which makes it really hard for new bio materials to compete on that market. They were interested in policy around that.

I would say I'm also really interested in looking at the definition and actually redefining recyclable in the world of the FTC. In the FTC Green Guides, recyclable, it boils down the definition that over 60% of households have to have access to collection of that material. To me, it's not a reasonable definition because it stops at the end markets. It's not allowing for us to create incentives to build end markets. All we're saying is, "Hey, let's just collect this material and let's do the job sorting it and let's bail it, and then let's just look at these bales together".

That's obviously not working. We need to make sure those bales have a place to go. I want to create and work to create incentives such that if you're going to be introducing materials into the system, whether you're a material supplier or a brand, you understand the current end-market ecosystem for that material, and you know it's strong and if it's not strong, you are helping build that.

We have these virgin plastic companies that have increased their production of virgin plastics. I think before we are producing a ton more of virgin plastics, we need to make sure that the plastics that are in our system are actually recyclable to the point of an existing end market holding those materials back into the system in a real way. Yes, I do think policy is a powerful way to help inspire positive innovation in the right direction for, not just the CPG supply chain, but all supply chains.

[00:28:32] Liz: Absolutely. I hear what you're saying too, and lately on this podcast I've been interviewing a lot of people who were part of the plastics value chain, and a common theme seems to be supporting some sort of nationwide infrastructure around recycling and organics. Obviously, it's been so local, but you all say that that's a must in order to really be able to make real change. I'm sure that's being looked at, and I know it's challenging, but everything worth doing is challenging, right?

[00:29:07] Reyna: That's right. Yes, I know. It's kind of interesting to see different countries, how they manage it. Us, right now, we've privatized the material management waste management system, and it's this patchwork quilt of operations. The reality is the MRFs, which are the heart of the recycling system, are not able to even keep their doors open because they're forced to try to sort and bundle and sell materials that have no value.

We really need to start there and say if recycling is going to be a real solution, how do we support these material recovery facilities, such that they have a real business around them. If that takes a national alliance around our philosophies of how we do things, I'm all for it.

[00:30:09] Liz: Absolutely, and you're right. The business model is broken up around recycling and that needs to be fixed. I know innovation is there and it's being looked at. Hopefully, within markets and some of the changes being made, hopefully we're on our way. I know the world is paying closer attention to plastic. You see that more than anyone. What do you think is motivating brands these days to really rethink their environmental impact and sustainability goals?

[00:30:43] Reyna: Yes, I would say definitely plastics in the ocean being so visceral. People are realizing that when scientists predict, and you've heard this one before, that the plastics in the ocean will outweigh the fish by 2050. That's 30 years from now, that's no time at all.

Companies are realizing that, and they are now looking at sustainable packaging a little different. I was able to have dinner with the head of supply chain purchasing procurement for a huge brand. I was talking with him about, "How does a large company like yours think about sustainable packaging?" Because in the past it was all driven by price. They weren't able to move to a new sustainable format because it was increased the cost of goods sold, and it would affect their margin, and it just became a nightmare to try to get that signed off.

I understand, especially if their margins already set, their prices already set, I get it, but now these big brands, and I'm seeing many other brands of all sizes, think this way. They're thinking about the transport to sustainable packaging, not as a cost of goods sold, but as a cost of doing business. Instead of thinking of as this is an additive cost, they're thinking, "Oh no, we need to change to sustainable packaging or else we're not going to be on the shelf much longer. This is something that consumers and everybody, humanity, is beginning to expect. If we want to have a place on the shelves in the future, we need to make that transfer".

Again, from an economic standpoint, business management standpoint, they're moving their thinking from, "No, this is not an added cost of goods sold, this is a cost of doing business." That's been very helpful. I think it's just in a reframing of the value and also understanding the cost to brand value if they don't. I'm grateful to see these leaders think like that, and then now it's just a matter of helping people get informed.

I do a lot of work around education to help brands really understand the ecosystem of sustainable packaging and materials. What is technically feasible today, what will work with their particular product based on their barrier requirements and the equipment they're using. It's a little bit of like, "Let's make sure people understand the philosophies, and the why's, and then understand what's technically feasible and what needs to happen." Then, where's the innovation needed to happen for the big gap on some of those.

[00:33:45] Liz: Definitely. I know the big workshop that you did with the CPG brands that we already talked about, that had to pivot because of the pandemic. Has COVID-19 affected your work in other ways? Or I guess that's a dumb question. How has it affected your work is a better way of phrase it.

[00:34:04] Reyna: Yes, it definitely has. I think we have found ways to connect via Zoom, and so that's been nice. I have not had to travel as much. I used to travel a lot to make sure I'm meeting with manufacturers all over the country and even the world. I'm actually grateful for not having to jump on a plane all the time, and everybody understands.

That's been nice. I'm just grateful I do not manufacture at this point. I work with a lot of manufactures from resin compound, to film extruders, printer converters. The stress of managing those operations, if one person got sick, then they had to rethink the way that they were staffing because that whole group of staff had to quarantine. It caused a lot of delay in manufacturing. It caused a lot of challenges for international trade.

We are seeing more desire for US manufacturing because of some of the international trade challenges due to COVID and other things. I'm seeing that a lot of people are more interested in American-made, which is what we wear as our bread and butter. That's been helpful, but a lot of delays in packaging manufacturing. I'll also say this, especially at the beginning, the first eight months of COVID, a lot of brands, even my company, we're all in survival mode, like, "How do we even operate in this new normal?"

Sustainable packaging initiatives got pushed out a bit. If it was a project that was, "Hey, let's begin to transfer these skews into this packaging format", those projects did get kicked out a bit because people just needed to make sure that they could maintain operations, but those projects are now picking back up again. I think we're getting back on track.

[00:36:22] Liz: Okay, good. I know a lot of your focus, obviously, is flexible packaging. It seems to be popping up everywhere. Why are the brands choosing flexible manufacturing? What are some of the benefits?

[00:36:35] Reyna: Yes, flexible packaging is a beautiful structure because it's incredibly lightweight. Especially with e-commerce, it's a lot lighter than your plastic rigids or your glass. It also has excellent barrier properties, so excellent moisture, oxygen, UV barrier. When you're looking at a package, the primary function of that package is to protect the product. You want something that's going to be lightweight and protect.

That's going to be the ideal one, plus it's much cheaper. At a per unit basis, it's a lot cheaper and it has excellent print quality. Yes, we're seeing a major uptick in that particular packaging format, flexible films. That is why you're seeing a lot of work, a lot of groups trying to solve for this sustainability issue of flexible film. Because, again, those conventional materials do not have a good end-of-life situation.

One of the reasons for that is conventional flexible films it's a combination of different materials, and there's a lot of different combinations. You might have this couch over here that's made out of PET laminated to aluminum and laminated to low density polyethylene. Then you have this one over here that's like a polypropylene, or just the OPP, but then you might have a high-density polyethylene with EVOH over here, and these all look the same.

When you try to combine those materials from a recycling perspective, you now have PET, nylon, aluminum, low-density polyethylene, high-density polyethylene. Not to mention all the anti-slip, anti-block inks. It becomes like this hodgepodge of materials and that's why the recycling industry is like, "I don't know what to do with this for A, and B, who the heck wants to buy this to put it into that next material stream?"

In flexible films, there is an option for storefront location recyclable. You know this one, it's the high-density, low-density polyethylene structure. That's a good option for products at this point that are high moisture, frozen. There are certain products that that's the right structure for now, but it needs to be collected at storefront locations. Then that's going to be recycled into products like [unintelligible 00:39:24] or other decking, or that type of product.

I am seeing a lot of brands move towards that format and a lot of opportunity for improvement. In the world of compostable, again, we can make products using wood cellulose and specialty biopolymers that have that same functionality, same barrier properties as a metalized PET. Would perform with the right barrier, will be able to be heat-sealable on all the different types of equipment whether it's a horizontal or a vertical form of film seal type of equipment, and also has excellent print quality.
There are options available on the sustainability side, but again, any option has major implications for end of life from a recycling or composting standpoint.

[00:40:17] Liz: Absolutely. I don't know if you've seen yourself, but have the new modern MRFs been able to adapt more to this in terms of being able to handle the flexible films?

[00:40:28] Reyna: There are some trials going on. I know MRFF is a group that is working with some select MRFs to collect and process them. What they do is they're working on front-end sorting equipment to say, "Can we just put all of our flexible film in that same bucket that has our rigid plastics under glass? Can the technology actually sort it out?" Then they're also looking at end market development.

If I pulverize this material, can it be compounded and made into two new pellets? They are looking at that. That is not, in my mind, a scalable solution. I think that, for this particular format, we need to rethink the materials that we're using because we also don't want to introduce toxins into the system. Unfortunately, a lot of the materials of the past, there's a lot of toxins in that chemistry. When you try to recycle that, and pulverizing it or recompounding it, you are bringing those toxins back in line.
I really feel there's a critical opportunity here where we can take this particular packaging format, step back and say, "How can we redesign this and rethink the materials that we're using, and design it in such a way that it will not [unintelligible 00:42:03] on nature, it will still perform, and it doesn't contain toxins." We, as a species, are incredibly brilliant if we focus our minds on the right questions and we work together. I really think that we're not actually that far off for coming up with solutions for this particular format.

[00:42:24] Liz: That's great to hear. You had such a great point about introducing the toxins. Now, any advice for haulers and recyclers in terms of their role in this and how they could be most helpful?

[00:42:40] Reyna: I would say, first of all, thank you. Thank you for working with this. I would say it's time to make sure your voice is heard. That you no longer want to deal with materials that do not have end market. I would say really take a look at the way that the FTC is defining the term recyclable and, is that definition serving the MRFs? That's critical part of the equation and I would argue that it's not. We want to support our MRFs and we must build end markets for the materials that we're throwing into their system if they're going to be able to survive and thrive.

I would say, yes, just get your voice heard, work with packaging designers. I'm just one of them and I'm always open to collaborate and connect with material recovery facilities and people in the recycling and composting industry. I'd love to connect and hear their specific challenges. I'm just one packaging engineer designer. Definitely connect with the world of packaging manufacturing and make sure that that world understands what you deal with on a day-to-day basis.

[00:44:08] Liz: That's great advice. Don't underestimate the power of you reaching out and already pulling these holders together. Is super helpful. I know we all appreciate that. Tell me, what's next for you? Not that you don't have enough going on already right now [chuckles], but I'm just curious what else you're looking forward to and working on.

[00:44:30] Reyna: Yes, I know. That's a great question. We're focused on helping brands and manufacturers connect with the leading sustainable technologies available to service their particular product or their particular manufacturing process. We're also working with early-stage technology providers to help qualify and commercialize their technology. That keeps me really busy. I do a lot of work as well helping venture capital identify which opportunities are available or even that out things.
It's about helping people get aligned with the solutions and then also helping getting funding into the right spaces. That's something that's been on top of mind. We're going to be doing these little biomimicry bites theories, which I'm very excited about. Will be a little series of webinars where we're going to work with the biomimicry community of experts to help us identify and evaluate different creatures, species, organisms of nature that have interesting functionality in the eyes of packaging and packaging performance.

That's something I'm very excited about, because I really think there's a lot of wealth of knowledge in that intersection of nature and technology.

[00:46:03] Liz: That sounds great.

[00:46:04] Reyna: Keep your eye out for that and I'll invite you. I'd love for you to join us.

[00:46:06] Liz: I would love to join and actually write about it and share it with our audience. That would be amazing.

[00:46:13] Reyna: See you at 8:00. I'll say this too, that whitepaper that we put together for that innovation workshop, it's a really rich resource and it's a free resource available. If people go to rcdpackaging.com/innovationcolab, a lot of letters there, you can find the whitepaper there as a free downloadable resource. If listeners are interested in the innovation process, this is a process that's never been done before at this scale of industry-wide innovation collaboration.
The whitepaper does a good job at basically mapping out that process and our approach. It also has a list of key takeaways of this particular group as we use this process around innovating flexible film packaging. I just wanted to offer that to your community if somebody feels like they need a 10-page nighttime reading resource, but it's that.

[00:47:21] Liz: We'll put that in the show notes as well. Just for everyone listening, it is a beautiful whitepaper and it's in digestible chunks. If you don't have time to read all the pages at once, it's definitely worthwhile to give it a view and consume it as you can. It's a beautiful whitepaper, well done, and it definitely gets across the takeaways and the goals that you all set during that workshop. For sure, we'll include it in our show notes and it's definitely worth a download.

[00:47:55] Reyna: Awesome. Thanks, Liz. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

[00:47:58] Liz: [laughs] 

[00:47:59] Reyna: It is long. I think I need to maybe put out some little social media posts that break it all up and add some memes or something. Isn't that how people consume content these days, Liz? You're an expert.
[laughter] 

[00:48:15] Liz: Yes. It could be very meme-worthy, but there's a lot of good content there. You could do infographics. There's so much there that you could pull out and do little carousels on your social networks. There's so much [laughs].

[00:48:30] Reyna: All right. I'm going to need your help because that's a lot for me.

[00:48:32] Liz: It's a lot to digest, so no worries [laughs].

[00:48:37] Reyna: Okay.

[00:48:38] Liz: Is there anything else you want to share before I let you go about your day?

[00:48:43] Reyna:  No. I'm just so grateful for you inviting me to just share this time with you and listening to me get on my little-- what is it? I get on my little soapbox here. I really appreciate the time and your time. Was wonderful to talk with you.

[00:49:02] Liz: You too. Thank you. I love your perspective, how you're always keeping nature in mind, you're keeping end of life in mind, and those are the types of packaging people that are really going to make a difference. I appreciate you sharing your story and we look forward to hearing more from you in the future. Thank you.

[00:49:21] Reyna: Awesome. Have a wonderful day, Liz.

[00:49:23] Liz:  You too. I'll be in touch soon. Thank you for listening. It would mean the world if you would take a moment to rate or review this podcast. If you share it with us on one of our social networks, we are giving out some fun Nothing Wasted Podcast swag, so just tag us and see what you get. Thanks so much.


[music] 

Hide comments
account-default-image

Comments

  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
Publish