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Women Drive Innovations in Sustainable Packaging, Digital Printing

A recent issue of Packaging World magazine covers sustainable packaging innovations from Mars, Aveda, and Brita Water and new direct-to-shape digital can printing—all led by women.


Quick hits:

  • Since Packaging World published a cover story in 2016 profiling women in package engineering, the pool of women in the industry has grown, as the recent May issue suggests.
  • Allison Lin, Global VP of Packaging Sustainability at Mars, Inc., who leads the company’s global cross-segment strategy to improve the sustainability of its product packaging, provides advice to young women interested in a career in packaging. 
  • Ana Espinosa, Packaging Sustainability Manager at The Estée Lauder Companies, worked along with team members and women-owned and operated Xela Pack to pioneer a paper-based, recyclable sachet for Aveda hair-care samples.
  • B Water & Beverages President Jennifer Brooks spearheaded the package design for a new retail water product from Brita that includes a reusable, recyclable aluminum bottle and a paperboard multipack carrier.
  • The first company to offer digitally printed cans in small batches in North America, Hart Print was co-founded by Stephanie Hart, who saw the need for the technology after investing in a microbrewery.

Related to this episode:  

Listen to the story here:

   Read the transcript below:

Hello, this is Anne Marie Mohan, Senior Editor of Packaging World magazine, with Take Five.

In 2015, the staff of Packaging World put together a cover story profiling eight women in the packaging industry—in manufacturing roles, in particular. The article was a huge success. However, we couldn’t make it an annual feature, since there were so few women in the industry we could tap to participate.

But, times are changing. Just recently, as we were putting together the May issue, we noticed a recurring theme. Nearly every article featured a woman in a leadership position.

In what we call our First Person Q&A column, we spoke with Allison Lin, Global VP of Packaging Sustainability at Mars, Inc. Lin began her career in packaging at Procter & Gamble, where she says she fell in love with the field of packaging sustainability. Following her time at P&G, Lin worked in sustainability positions at Starbucks and Coca-Cola, after which she did a brief stint with plastics converter Westfall Technik. Currently she leads Mars’s global cross-segment strategy to improve the sustainability of its product packaging.

Lin shared with us that she’s been extremely fortunate to have many mentors, as well as role models and male allies, along the way. For those young women interested in a career in packaging, Lin advises finding a mentor and attending conferences to build a network.

In another article, we hear from Ana Espinosa, Packaging Sustainability Manager at The Estée Lauder Companies. Espinosa detailed a multi-year partnership between Estée Lauder, co-packer and packaging supplier Xela Pack, and Gentile Packaging Machinery to develop a recyclable, paper-based sachet for Aveda hair-care product samples.

Xela Pack is a women-owned and operated company that’s known for its Xela Pack packaging structure, which is an alternative to plastic bottles and tubes that’s made from paper, foil, and film. The challenge for the Aveda project was to eliminate the foil layer and certify the structure for recycling. In the article, Carolynn O’ Connor, Director of Sales for Xela Pack, shared details on the certification process.

The paper-based, recyclable sachet that resulted from the collaboration is a first for the prestige beauty market and offers the luxurious, high-quality experience Aveda is known for.

Also sustainability-related, and also featuring a woman in a leadership position is another story in May that discusses the packaging innovation being used by water filtration provider Brita. When Brita decided to launch a single-serve bottled water product at retail, it chose B Water & Beverages, a co-manufacturer and packager of water in aluminum bottles and cans as the exclusive licensee. 

Through the leadership of B Water President Jennifer Brooks, Brita was able to realize its goal of packaging its product sustainably. Brooks worked with aluminum bottle supplier Trivium Packaging to develop an impact-extruded aluminum bottle that can be reused by the consumer multiple times. Brooks also spearheaded a project with packaging supplier Atlantic Packaging to use a recyclable, paperboard carrier for bottle multipacks rather than using non-recyclable plastic ring carriers.

In the article, Allison Scales, VP - Printing & Graphics Division at Atlantic, shares details on the development of the plastic-free paperboard carrier, known as the Fishbone C-Clip.

And probably the most prominently featured women in our May issue is Stephanie Hart, co-founder and co-CEO of Hart Print, who graces the cover of the issue, along with company co-founders JP Paradis and Alexander Anishin. After holding a number of positions at footwear and accessory company ALDO Group and becoming an investor and partner in a microbrewery, Stephanie Hart launched Hart Print with her partners in 2018 to provide digitally printed cans in small batches.

Hart Print has grown rapidly since then. It currently operates a facility in Montreal that uses two Hinterkopf direct-to-shape digital can-printing systems, and it’s opening a new plant in Chicago by year end that will house three more printers. It also plans to open two more sites by the end of 2023. The biggest boost to the business was its acquisition in 2021 by Aardagh Metal Packaging.

For those interested in learning more about women in packaging, visit The Packaging & Processing Women’s Leadership Network website. The PMMI-led group serves to recruit, retain, and advance women’s careers in packaging and processing through online and in-person events, information-sharing, and networking.

That’s all for this edition of Take Five.        

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