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Huhtamaki at COP28: Packaging Circularity as a Catalyst for Climate Resilience and Sustainability

Huhtamaki at COP28: Packaging Circularity as a Catalyst for Climate Resilience and Sustainability

The 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference, more commonly referred to as COP28, was held from 30 November until 12 December 2023 at Expo City, Dubai. The conference has been held annually since the first UN climate agreement in 1992. Historical results were achieved in the negotiations at Dubai: for the first time, the deal calls on all countries to move away from using fossil fuels. 

Huhtamaki was proud partner of Finland´s first own Pavilion, showcased TheCupCollective there and hosted a panel discussion on December 3rd a, titled "Driving the Circularity of Packaging: A Path Towards Climate Resilience". The panel brought together seasoned experts with diverse perspectives and engaged in insightful conversations on how packaging circularity does not only contribute to climate resilience but can also act as a prompter in a new era of sustainable practices. 

The panelists were Mrs. Liliana Annovazzi-Jakab, Chief of the UNECE/FAO Forestry and Timber Section of the United Nations; Dr. Paul Collins, VP of Sustainability at Huhtamaki; Dr. Juhani Damski, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of the Environment, Finland and Mr. Rolf Ladau, CEO of Paulig. The panel was moderated by Mrs. Sonja van Renssen, a seasoned climate, energy, and environment journalist. 

Key element of circularity 

Finland's Minister for European Affairs and Ownership Steering, Mr. Anders Adlercreutz opened the event. His opening remarks underscored the significance of the discussion within the broader COP28 agenda, emphasizing the role of circular economy for Finland.  

“Sustainable packaging is a key element of circularity. In Finland our ambition is to increase our climate and sustainability handprint in the world, therefore I am honored to kick off this insightful event organized by one of Finland´s most innovative and sustainable companies in the field of packaging.” said Minister Adlercreutz. 

The lively discussion after opening covered different aspects about how reducing food waste within food systems can enhance climate resilience by conserving resources and minimizing greenhouse gas emissions. 

"30 percent of food is wasted and lost – often before it reaches our supermarkets or fridges. Packaging solutions that are taking this into account are very much welcomed and I am very glad to see that the industry is finding solutions. Packaging can help extend shelf-life and avoid food lost”, said Mrs. Annovazzi-Jakab, Chief of the UNECE/FAO Forestry and Timber Section of the United Nations. 

Huhtamaki´s panel on packaging circularity at COP28 not only highlighted the importance of innovations in this often-underestimated domain but also showcased how a united global effort can turn packaging into a force for positive change. CEO of Paulig, Mr. Ladau brought up to the discussion that while food safety is non-negotiable, consumers are very much interested in the usability and ease of use of packaging. Mr. Damski from the Ministry of Environment of Finland reflected on how science can inform and shape better regulatory practices for packaging, promoting sustainability and climate resilience.  

“The most interesting element for me at our panel was to see how the many links in the value chain represented by the attendees will come together to enable the transition from linearity today to circularity tomorrow. We recognize that success can only come from collaboration. As nations strive to navigate the complex terrain of climate resilience, it is clear that the box itself holds a key to a more sustainable and resilient future”, says Mr. Paul Collins, VP, Sustainability at Huhtamaki. 

See full panel discussion HERE.