‘Sustainability in Packaging Asia 2024’ Spotlights the Need for a Circular Economy

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The ‘Sustainability in Packaging Asia 2024’ conference was held in Singapore from 4th to 6th June 2024. The high-profile conference showcased the latest sustainable packaging solutions from leading suppliers other professionals in the industry while enabling packaging professionals to avail of an unparalleled mix of actionable insights, collaborative case studies, leading panel discussions, latest trends and emerging developments in the sustainable packaging marketplace. The conference was organised by Smithers, a multinational provider of testing, consulting, information and compliance services. This is an important annual event in the calendar of Asia and South Pacific countries on solutions to plastic waste problems and improving sustainability of packaging as a whole.

Daily waste generation in Sri Lanka amounts to 7,500 metric tons (MT) of solid waste day, including 400 MT of plastic waste, with low recycling rates of between 5% and 20% for the plastic waste. In recent years, Sri Lanka has been struggling with a municipal solid waste management problem and also of being accused as a major polluter of the Indian Ocean. 

One of the speakers at the conference was Kithsiri Wijesundera, Principal Consultant, Kiwi Strategy Consultants, Sri Lanka, who presented a paper on ‘EPR development in Sri Lanka and what it means to local industries’, offering valuable insights into the challenges and achievements of the sustainable packaging industry. Having headed several leading FMCG marketing, Export and International Marketing companies, his mission is to drive awareness of circular economy principles amongst the local packaging community. Presently, he is working with the Sri Lanka Institute of Packaging to implement an EPR centric industry strategy.

His presentation explored the development of the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) framework in Sri Lanka and its implications for local industries. While emphasising the need to build a circular economy, his paper examined the evolution of EPR regulations in Sri Lanka in relation to packaging materials, including the establishment of legal frameworks and the involvement of stakeholders in the implementation process. Suppliers in Sri Lanka’s packaging industry need to be aware of evolving demands from buyers for incorporating sustainability in their packaging solutions to remain competitive in a global market.

Furthermore, his presentation shared the impact of EPR on local industries in Sri Lanka, encouraging local industries to incorporate more circular economy principles, such as reducing waste generation and increasing resource efficiency. Continued collaboration between government, industry, and other stakeholders is crucial to ensure successful implementation of a circular economy that benefits the environment. 

During this year’s conference, many other experts shared their research on topics such as the circular economy and carbon emissions; technical advances in sustainable packaging; case studies and best practices from across the value chain; advanced recycling for packaging and more. The speakers at the conference represented leading brands active in the Asia Pacific region including Coca-cola, Mars Wrigley, WestRock, Haleon, Friesland Campina, UPM Speciality papers, Metsa Group, Borouge,  BOBST, CCC Label, Henkel, Mitsui Chemicals, DOW Chemicals, SCG Chemicals, Fonterra and Danone. The Alliance to End Plastic waste, PEFC, which provides certifications for commercially grown forest products, and ISCC, which provides sustainability certificates also made presentations at the conference.

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