Alan Blake - Sustainable Packaging Expert
Alan is a "semi-retired” consultant in Packaging and Sustainability and has recently re-activated his connection with PAC The Packaging Consortium as their PACNEXT US and Food Waste Director. Alan also has 20 years experience with Procter & Gamble in Package Development & Design and was the Corporate leader for their global Packaging Sustainability program. He has been a board member of PAC, of the National Zero Waste Council (NZWC) and of Green Blue and served on the the Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC) executive committee.
Alan Joins Sustainable Nation to Discuss:
The new packaging take back program, Loop
Importance of life cycle analysis in packaging sustainability
The circular economy movement and business's role
The business benefits of designing more sustainable packaging
Advice and recommendations for sustainability leaders
Alan's Final Five Question Responses:
What is one piece of advice you would give other sustainability professionals that might help them in their careers?
Two pieces of advice. First and foremost, if this is something that you are passionate about, then follow your passion and don't give up. There is a huge network of people and organizations out there who share your passion and want to make a difference. So, follow your passion. Secondly, be patient, because as I said, this is a journey and it's a long journey and it's going to frustrate you. So be patient, but know that you're making progress and celebrate that progress.
What are you most excited about right now in the world of sustainability?
I'm excited about the fact that there's so much activation out there to get going on this journey and to take bigger interventions. I loved the fact that this sort of program, like Loop was getting center stage in Davos. You had Tom Zacky, the head of Terracycle, on stage with company CEO's talking about Loop. That's crazy. That would never have happened a few years ago. So, I'm excited about that and I'm excited about the ongoing discussion around the new plastics economy and this focus on keeping plastics out of the environment and in the economy. These are the sorts of activation steps and momentum that I think we need that's going to help us make the sort of progress that we'd love to see in the next five, ten to fifteen years.
What is one book you would recommend sustainability leaders read?
Yeah, this is an interesting one because things are changing so fast that sometimes you struggle to think what's relevant. But I'll go for an old one, because it was something that really helped me a lot in terms of understanding the challenges out there across the value chain. And it is very simply titled Integrated Solid Waste Management. It was written by several of my Proctor and Gamble colleagues about 15 years or so ago. It's just kind of an encyclopedia all to do with solid waste management. It's a little bit out of date now, but it's just a great resource. A second book that's just come out, and I like this because it's a collection of industry leaders talking the sustainability journey, and it's called The Future of Packaging From Linear to Circular. It's edited by Tom Zacky of Terracycle and I think that's a great read because it's today and it's relevant. It's just industry leaders sharing their stories and approaches and thinking on what it's going to take to get to the circular economy with packaging. So those are the two books I would recommend.
What are some of your favorite resources or tools that really help you in your work?
This is another good question and it had me scratching my head for a while and then I thought the more my network has grown in the world of packaging and sustainability, the greater the resources available to me. So, my favorite resources are my network and all of the stuff that they share and send to me. They share websites, they share media links, the latest news reports and I find this phenomenal. I welcome it, and I'll be honest with you, my struggle is to keep up with just the wealth of great information that this network sends to me and then sorting through it. One of the nice things now back with PAC is that we have a monthly letter and our challenge is to sort through and come up with two or three links every month that are relevant to packaging.
Where can our listeners go to learn more about you and the work that you're leading?
Well, right now, the best place to go is to the the Packaging Consortium's website and that is www.pac.ca. That tells you everything about PAC and the organization that goes all the way back to 1952. So, it's a long standing organization that is focused on promoting the packaging industry.