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Exclusive Interview with SuperBin

Ahead of this year's Sustainability in Packaging Asia 2024, we spoke with Kim Jeungbin (JB), CEO at SuperBin, to get a sneak peek of what we can expect from his presentation on 'Insight into an advanced recycling technology and culture for the circular economy at im_factory in South Korea' Here's what he had to say...

1 Why is it important for others in the industry to hear this message?

Before answering this question, I need to define what a circular economy is and why it is important for all of us. A circular economy is a civilization that we, humans have not experienced, and it will give us an alternative that can play a crucial role in the climate crisis facing humanity especially at this critical moment. There is no doubt that a circular economy is one that will bring the most change to the future of our society and industry to tackle this problem.

Similarly, regarding the recycling industry where the circular economy needs to be achieved, it is essential to understand our human history. During the industrial revolution, the focus was only on manufacturing and consuming goods and products, and we used and threw away these products like abandoning animals, and abandoning plants.
I would like to give you a chance to be able to reflect on ourselves by delivering the notion of  im_factory, based on the circular economy, which has a forest made of abandoned trees and a shelter that takes care of abandoned animals. There is also a waste-related culture space where consumers can come at any time to study and think.

No matter what we produce, it is eventually consumed by consumers and ends up in two ways: disposal of waste or recycling of it. The only way to reduce the total amount of waste caused by our production and consumption is to increase recycling. We need to be able to change our perception of waste by reinforcing the notion of the circular economy and by encouraging humans’ actions including recycling.

Accordingly, by im_factory, I would like to shift the perspective of waste and recycling.  SuperBin’s solution including im_factory would be one of the representing models which gives you motivation and intuition for our future and the circular economy.

2.What are the main challenges in your day-to-day work relating to sustainable packaging solutions?

One of the biggest challenges is how to respond to the packaging market which is related to the circular economy and recycled materials. There are two specific reasons: one is based on structure of high price of recycled materials, and the other comes from the design of using recycled materials.
  1. High price: producing recycled materials based on the circular economy is still high. Understanding this structure and accepting this high cost, purchases will occur so that the recycled material industry can become competitive.
  1. Design of using recycled materials.: The process of producing high-quality recycled materials begins with the design of the product. There is no magic spell of designing and manufacturing the products which are all far away from making recycled materials and having the recycling industry solve all the problems and produce high-quality recycled materials.

In conclusion, the circular economy is our culture and civilization where the role and responsibility of packaging companies lie, which I hope, not ignored by us. Through innovation and leadership in the packaging industry, consumers will have options which are alternatives to preventing climate change and making the right choices for the future and society.

3.What are some of the biggest opportunities gaining attention within the packaging industry?

Besides the regulation which emphasizes the mandatory use of recycling package, of course, preferable opportunities for the packing industry, the big change and opportunity on which we should focus is the design of packaging.
So far, the competitiveness of the packaging industry has been a design which is the attractive and beautiful packaging that attracts attention from consumers, however, in the future, it will require the supply and demand of materials that can be replaced by eco-friendly materials such as recycled materials and minimize damage to the environment during the packaging process and consequently, it will be transformed to technology development, process innovation, and design that can develop sustainably.

4.What do you think will be some of the most interesting advancements in packaging circularity in the near future?

We will see the emergence of an active recycling market and its further development. The recycling market stems from the waste market. In details, the sustainability of packaging will be closely linked not only to technological development in the packaging market but also to the supply and demand of high-quality recycled materials from the waste market.

In the past, we needed only to focus on packaging technology, material procurement, and production technology. But in the future, packaging technology and industry will develop differently as the packaging industry solves the waste problem facing our society.

As a result, technological advancement is one of many we have witnessed such as advanced AI tech, but the market needs to shift perception and creativity which is able to connect issues and business chances in packaging business. My point of interest is to see how experts in the packaging industry will recognize and define social issues and connect them to the development of the packaging business.

5.What are the challenges the packaging industry has to overcome in the next few years?

We have to use eco-friendly materials that are recognized by consumers. However, eco-friendly materials have a high cost due to their cost structure. Therefore, leadership to maintain the price is needed to ensure that this cost structure is recognized as a price while using eco-friendly materials, including high-cost recycled materials. Such leadership can only be achieved by accumulating sincere and consistent decisions regarding the environment over a considerable period of time.

Packaging is a rather small element of branding. Packaging, which contain numerous products, has to provide consumers and our society with confidence that the value of products will not damage the environment in the process of delivering it, rather than expressing uniqueness and differentiation in a technical manner or process.