A Career with purpose: sustainable packaging
We explore the links between, packaging, sustainability and the food & drink sector. What sort of career opportunities are there in the packaging industry?
This article was taken from Nov 2020 careers event centered around a career in sustainable packaging, the speakers of the first session included:
"There is a huge focus on sustainability in the food and drink industry and it's growing exponentially. Packaging design is a really integral part of that focus". - Judith Allan
"If you want to deliver a difference, if you want to make a change, if you want to get into an industry that is evolving and being challenged but accelerating innovation crazily. Then it's a great place to start your career". - Joanna Stephenson
"Packaging is a green technology, it's preserving goods and protecting the planet from waste". - Joanna Stephenson
"Packaging is how product gets from farm to fork and the packaging engineer plays a critical role to ensure that product gets to them safely for that perfect moment of consumption". - John Revess
It's a really exciting time for the evolution of the packaging industry and it takes on those challenges of sustainability and a circular economy. These developments create huge potential to rejuvenate awareness of the variety of scope of careers in a sector that you may not have heard much about.
"To future-proof the industry, it's vital that we all come together to showcase what we can do and the myriad of different careers in the industry in order to build a sustainable future for food and drink packaging". - Judith Allan
The packaging industry doesn't get recognised as an industry. Consumers see packaging as waste, they don't understand its core role in fundamentally protecting goods, preserving goods, extending their shelf-life in order to get them from a remote place or minimising damage, and of course, presenting the product in store.
What skills/qualifications do you need to pursue a career in packaging?
There aren't really packaging qualifications offered in universities, there are a few apprenticeships around, the Iom3 run training courses for a diploma in packaging.
When recruiting, a technical background might help, but not necessarily. I look more for passionate and committed people, everything else you can learn on the job. We are lacking a culture of sustainability in companies when it comes to packaging. Building programmes internally to educate people around this topic is key. - Feliks Bezati
We don't necessarily mind which degree you have got, you just need to have a good analytical ability, a curiosity and if you can get some experience working for a brand or in a manufacturer - fantastic. But because we don't have a feeder education system, all skills are welcome! - Joanna Stephenson
Packaging is central to the way companies bring their products to market so having outstanding communication skills is key. You also need to be able to think creatively, and think outside the box. There is opportunity for all educational backgrounds. - John revess
More about the speakers:
I set up Women in Packaging UK because we don't have enough young talent coming into the industry, particularly female talent. I set it up to help with networking, training, education, and generally supporting the female employee population in the UK. - Joanna Stephenson
I worked for Danone and now at Mars, I am working to improve the circularity and recyclability of their packaging. This is what motivates me, being part of this system and trying to improve it. Having packaging in the market that is not recyclable, you are exposing your company to business risk. - Feliks Bezati
I graduated as a mechanical engineer from the University of Surrey and quickly realised that building factories is much less interesting than what's going on inside the factories, in particular, packaging. I moved in Unilever from a project engineer to a junior packaging engineer. I found the whole process enthralling to be part of. - John Revess