At the Conference organized by dvi, (the German Packaging Institute e. V.) in Berlin, students taking packaging courses in the fields of Technology, Design and Food met with company representatives as well as experts from the sectors of politics and society. The young people from the industry created a clear “to-do list” for the responsible businessmen and politicians. The focus was on sustainability, recycling management and global responsibility.
The core requirements of the approximately 80 students from Berlin, Hanover, Kempten, Leipzig, Munich, Stuttgart and Vienna were:
- Clear paths to sustainable packaging solutions: When asked about the most sustainable ways for sustainable packaging solutions, the students emphasize the global responsibility of policy-makers and companies. 83 percent call for the establishment of collection and recycling systems in countries that currently have no or only inadequate frameworks. There was also a clear vote for greater use of recycled materials (78 percent) and the expansion of reusable systems (74 percent).
- More sustainability and recycling management in the curriculum: The majority of universities and those responsible for curricula are called upon to pay greater attention to the aspects of sustainability and recycling management in their curricula (63 percent).
- Clear demands addressed to politicians: Accordingly, 80 percent of students call on policy-makers to support countries without functioning collection and recycling systems in setting up such structures. The promotion of deposit systems and reusable solutions also finds a clear majority of 71 percent.
- For 90 percent of the students, the sustainability of a company or its products plays an important or very important role in their choice of future employer.
Ms. Kim Cheng, Managing Director of dvi (the German Packaging Institute), commented on the results: “The next generation in the industry has adopted a clear position and is looking beyond the national horizons. The committed and very constructive discussions by the students with the representatives of companies, politicians, educationalists and society who were present made us very confident. For this generation sustainability, recycling management and global responsibility are beyond question. Those who want to win over young people may not close their minds to these topics, but on the contrary must actively encourage and promote them”.
Alongside fascinating insights into the attitudes and wishes of tomorrow’s staff members, the participating companies – Coca-Cola Deutschland, Nestlé, Tetra Pak, Griesson – de Beukelaer, Stabilo, Der Grüne Punkt, Thimm, Jokey, KHS Corpoplast, Pöppelmann, and MEG – also had the opportunity to establish initial contacts with the next generation during discussion rounds, workshops, and a business speed dating session.
“The conference was a win-win event for everyone involved,” said Kim Cheng. “We were able to promote the early transfer of knowledge and know-how between industry and students and show that tomorrow’s packaging makers are already providing important impetus today and can become drivers for greater sustainability. This is why the students had the opportunity to present their own innovative ideas at the Conference too”. The dvi plans to continue and repeat the event format in the coming year.