Circular Economy: CPG Packaging Design

Current Head of Sustainability at Danone, Brazil.

Why is this interview interesting?

How CPG companies look at the recyclability of packaging

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Executive Bio

Ligia Camargo

Current Head of Sustainability at Danone, Brazil.

Ligia Camargo started working in Sustainability at Unilever in 2010 when the area was first being developed within large CPG companies. She was part of a global team that launched Unilever’s Sustainable Living Plan which, together with HR and the Sustainability Committee, aimed to educate at least 90% of the company on the role of sustainability. Ligia then worked with each brand within the group to build an adherence strategy to various sustainability metrics. She then moved to become Head of Sustainability at Danone in Brazil in 2017 where she is responsible for corporate communications and sustainability strategies for the region across all Danone brands. Read more

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Interview Transcript

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation reported details on how smaller package formats, lids and seals are very hard to recycle. Have you seen the decision-making process around product design process change over the last few years?

Actually, over the last ten years, it has been the awareness period. Of course, we have seen some changes on the design of plastic. We don’t see the mass design of the products that are in supermarkets, for example, with this kind of intervention. Even the study, from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, the most important one, gave us the information from 2015, that until 2050, we will have more plastic than fish in the ocean. So it’s pretty new. The changes that are happening, I really believe they are happening fast, in terms of awareness. Everybody knows, nowadays, the importance of talking about recycling, the importance of talking about new plastics and new packaging. But we are starting, I really believe this is the case, from 2020 to 2030, we will have the big changes, in terms of the way of doing it, because the concept is already established.

How do you change the culture of CPG companies towards packaging design?

Well, everything starts from knowledge. I believe that the design process, it’s a process of knowing, what is the availability of the materials that you have in your hands? What is the needs of your brand and what is the expectation of your public? The design comes from a combination of interests for the change and everything starts from knowledge.

For example, just here in Danone, I finalised the analysis of our portfolio, in terms of recyclability. We have two kinds of recyclability that we are looking for. One of them is technical, the technical recyclability that we have in our packaging. This is very easy. 100% of our plastics are technically recyclable. But the recyclability depends on the demand, so the marketing needs to be developed to have a guarantee to really recycle the material. This is the challenge that we are facing from a lot of plastics, here in Brazil. For example, for PET, which is a very common plastic, we have a very good market to develop this. Even for textiles, PET can become fabric and this is one kind of development that we can have on the recyclability; we have a very open, close look.

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Circular Economy: CPG Packaging Design(November 21, 2019)

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