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Interview with CJ CheilJedang

Ahead of the upcoming Sustainability in Packaging Asia conference, we caught up with Grace Kim, Head of Global Packaging R&D at CJ CheilJedang. She gave us a sneak peek of what we can expect from her presentation on day three, taking place during our 'Brands and E-tailers' Perspectives on Sustainability' session.


Current Industry Focus:

Q. As consumers/end users continually push for more sustainable/greener solutions, what do you think is the biggest concern regarding packaging? 
The biggest concern would be the perception of the consumers. As much as the consumers want to see more of sustainable/greener solutions in packaging, it is hard for them to give up on the convenience and the additional benefits especially from the single use packaging. Consumer’s understanding of the recyclable materials is also very limited. We receive many consumer inquires daily just to understand how to recycle our package. Clear communication and consumer education will be the key success measure in order to move toward a circular economy.

Q. What are some of the biggest opportunities gaining attention within the packaging industry? How has your company chosen to react/adapt to stay on trend?
The biggest opportunities gaining attention within the packaging industry would be the opportunities to collaborate with other value chains to marching along toward a circular economy. 
In order to react/adapt to stay on trend, CJ established Sustainable Packaging Strategy focusing on technology, communication and collaboration. We are developing technologies based on “3R policy (Redesign, Recycle, Recover)” to develop the packages with the eco-friendly, recyclable and nature-based raw materials in order to reduce the negative environment impact caused by the excessive packaging materials. Technology development won’t be easy if we do this alone. Through the collaboration with value chains who have the similar vision, we can work together to get the best result for the environment. 

Future Focus:

Q. What industry topics are getting the most attention at this time? How are these factors influencing the future of packaging? 
In a post-COVID world, single use packaging and e-commerce are on rise to ensure the necessary hygiene and to reduce the unnecessary contact to minimize potential risk of virus transmission. As the consumers stay at home longer, the visual impact of their waste will make them to rethink about the packaging and will look for the solutions. They are anticipating to see more of easier-to-recycle materials and the eco-friendly packaging. Technology development and application cannot be implemented by any one group, but will need to be carried out in collaboration across all value chains in the industry.

Q. What does your company/organization hope to achieve over the next 5 years with regards to the future of packaging industry? 
We hope to realize a true circular economy based on CJ’s sustainable packaging strategy. For example, within the processed food packaging recycling stream, the washing process is one of the very important steps as it is linked to the purity of the waste. Per CJ’s sustainable packaging strategy, we will provide clear communication and education to the consumers on the importance of the used packaging cleaning process at home as this is everyone’s responsibility. We will also continue to develop technologies through collaboration and open innovation to realize circular economy. 

Q. What recommendations do you have for packaging professionals starting new sustainability initiatives? 
Packaging professionals should look at more of the holistic picture of packaging’s life cycle to truly realize circular economy. 

Q. How do you expect to see the recycling infrastructure change in Asia in the next few years?
In general in Korea, home appliances are well re-used and recycled because the raw materials have a high value and the recycling infrastructure for home appliances is well established with the automation. However, in the case of packaging for personal cares and processed foods, due to the product contamination, recycling process is very complicated and the cost is high. New recycling infrastructure will need to be developed and this can’t be done alone by recycling company. Collaboration to achieve circular economy is a new concept in Korea but with the momentum we have so far, as more people understand about the circular economy and the importance of collaboration to get there, the new recycling infrastructure for the CPG packaging can be established. 

Conference Related:

Q. Your presentation at this year’s Sustainability in Packaging Asia will cover Sustainable Packaging Strategy toward a Circular Economy, Why is it important for others in your industry to hear this message? What are some of the key take-aways? 
Circular economy can’t be achieved alone but by the collaboration with other value chains. This presentation will give the insights on how the CPG Company like CJ is looking at the sustainability and how we will deliver the circular economy, through the communication and the collaboration. 

Q. Which presentations (what session topic) are you most looking forward to hearing about at Sustainability in Packaging Asia?
  • Part 1: Lifecycle Assessments (LCA) for Packaging
  • Part 3: Application of LCA for Business – Case Studies in Action
  • Re-imagining "Green" Packaging: Understanding The Environmental Impact of 
  • E-commerce Packaging.
  • Sustainability Roadmap of A CPG Brand