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By Tom Pollock

As one of the first working sessions to kick-off SPC Advance, the combined pharmaceutical and biopolymers brainstorming sessions generated a number of innovative ideas and set-up the process for members to engage in the two projects moving forward. There was interesting overlap in these two initiatives as both the pharmaceutical and biopolymer industries are utilizing cutting-edge technologies and present significant opportunities for innovation. We are very excited to now have both of these new ILCs off the ground and running!

Members shared a number of innovative ideas during pharmaceutical packaging brainstorming session with everyone agreeing that there are real sustainability gains to be made in both material sourcing and recovery areas of the value chain. Cold chain packaging was described by members as an example  where there is a need for solid thinking and supply chain collaboration around how to recover and/or reuse materials. The group also  discussed the need for dialogue across the supply chain, new initiatives drugstore companies are exploring, medical/hospital waste needs, and over-the-counter bottle and label recovery. It was an excellent brainstorming session that helped define the focus area (or areas) of the ILC as we move forward.

In the fascinating and emerging world of biopolymers, attendees  heard a number of valuable insights from members, most of all concerning the need for better education in the marketplace. For example, the prevailing (and incorrect) thinking that feedstocks for biopolymers necessarily disrupt what would otherwise be a food supply. Not the case. Biopolymer feedstocks are often residual material that normally gets sent to the landfill. But more than anything else, the discussion was very much focused on the potential that biopolymers present and the exciting opportunity that the SPC member companies have in exploring ways to bring these materials to the mainstream and leverage environmental benefits.

Thank you to Rob Fitzgerald, Director of Sustainable Packaging, The Estee Lauder Companies Inc.; and Owen Schultz, Vice President of Business Development, Earth Renewable for volunteering as co-chairs of the Biopolymers Working Group. Also thank you to Jason Sawicki, Senior Manager Operational Excellence and Packaging, Genentech; and Guy Gagnon of Ecolopharm for volunteering as co-chairs of the the Pharma Packaging Working Group.

Companies signed up to the Pharmaceutical Packaging and Biopolymers Working Group should look for invitations to the first conference calls to be held for each group in early November.

Through strong member support, an informed and science-based approach, supply chain collaborations and continuous outreach, the goal of the Pharmaceutical Packaging and Biopolymers Working Group is to understand the benefits, identify roadblocks and challenges, and develop solutions to bring innovations to market in a meaningful way.