Coming to terms with COVID-19

* 3 min read
Our Group Commercial Director Greg Lawson shares his thoughts on COVID-19 and how it's affecting the world we live and work in. Greg has 30 years of packaging expeience under his belt and has significantly influenced the packaging market in terms developing IT systems and strategies for the environmental impact of packaging across global supply chains.

Perhaps, like me, you are still trying to digest the devastating human cost of the Covid-19 pandemic and starting to wonder what it means for our way of life; how are we going to adapt to the seismic shifts in behaviour expected of us as individuals, families, communities, and societies? How are we going to keep ourselves and our communities safe? How are we going to continue to sustain body, mind and soul and what does the future hold?dhaya eddine bentaleb 16DAxpx l8I unsplash2In the context of the frontline life and death fight against Covid-19, it seems a little frivolous to ask about the future of the packaging sector and yet how we continue to meet demand for packaged goods in an emerging new-look world is a very serious concern. Demand for FMCGs is rising yet supply is under pressure from both ends – fractures in the physical supply chain and unprecedented social constraints on consumer movement.

“We access 387 suppliers in China that ship to use globally more than 9,000 different materials, impacting approximately 17,600 different finished product items. Each of these suppliers faces their own challenges in resuming operations.”

(Forbes 20/02/20)

Are we over-reliant on complex, overseas supply chains? Can we reorganise, resource and plan in order to regain control and to mitigate risk?

What will the ongoing implications of Covid-19 be on consumer behaviour? What do staff and consumers need in this time of crisis? How do we support these needs; how can we adapt to provide a more relevant product or service? How can we be socially useful?

The Covid-19 crisis is certainly sparking a rapid acceleration in the digitization of the world as we know it with millions suddenly tapping into remote working and distance learning platforms as well as an explosion in demand for e-commerce. The last month has seen an unprecedented surge in mobile and contactless payments and for the very first time the future of paper money is uncertain. As consumers adapt to the Covid-19 threat some of their new-found behaviours will undoubtedly stick around long-term whilst others may evolve even further to take advantage of new era digital opportunities.

It’s also worth considering what will happen to the sustainability agenda? Will it be forced to take a back seat? Economic instability will impact some decisions and sustainability might have to give way temporarily as businesses struggle to keep staff and consumers safe but perhaps your business still has sustainability goals and commitments to meet? What are the implications of Covid-19 on these?

"Nestle & Mondelez have signed the European Plastics Pact a commitment to make 100% of packaging reusable or recyclable and reduce the use of virgin plastics by 1/3 by 2025."

Whilst we are living in these uncertain times we can take the opportunity to contemplate these recurring themes and how they will shape our future.

The rise of the virtual business; Stop, think and let technology do the walking, don’t get left behind!

Sustainability AC (after Covid-19); As the earth re-sets as a consequence, should reverting to bad habits be criminalised?

Consumer behaviour; Bulk purchasing over food waste, locally sourced over unlimited seasonality. Is this the new norm and where does ethical fit?

E-commerce; Not just a nice to have but a necessity, is this the end for bricks & mortar businesses?

Packaging; Reality check, packaging isn’t just waste, it serves a purpose!

Legislation; is lockdown preparing the way for tougher enforcement?

Over the coming weeks, as I work from home, I’ll be contemplating these topics in more detail and considering their impact on people, planet and profits. I think now is the time to explore tactical levers short term and also revisit longer-term strategies. I hope you join in and share your thoughts too. Together perhaps we can feel a little more in control of the future.

Stay safe.

#weareinthistogether #Covid19 #Packaging #Sustainability