Reasons to be cheerful

Dick Searle1smallOut and out inspiration doesn’t often strike this seasoned packaging practitioner during the course of any given working week

However, I can categorically say that last Thursday morning’s event at the Museum of Brands in the company of our Fresher For Longer (FFL) schools competition winners did the job in spades. I suspect that the students from Alfreton Grange Arts College will remember it for the rest of their lives.

Our twelve week programme, delivered by Global Action Plan, had challenged 10 secondary schools to demonstrate their understanding of how packaging protects food on its journey from field to fork and how it helps to keep food Fresher For Longer in the home after purchase. Our resultant campaign saw student teams reach out to 50,000 people including classmates, teachers, families and even to local businesses and local governments.

Alfreton Grange was streets ahead of the other contenders in its ability to listen closely to the FFL brief and then to respond to its needs; creatively and positively and showing an uncanny mastery of the various arts of research, IT and communications, PR and marketing and product design and innovation.

I never hesitate to describe our UK food waste as a scandal – for so it is. Our Fresher for Longer campaign is about meeting that scandal head-on and to do that we need to pull no punches with our food-saving messages. We live in the developed world and should not waste the food we have the privilege of buying.

I was therefore impressed and moved to hear the Alfreton Grange students saying exactly the same thing in their own unique way. Our winning students had taken this central message to heart; they had fully grasped the thinking behind the FFL campaign and had then devised a wide variety of detailed solutions – apps; programmes; containers; awareness campaigns- that had risen to the challenge.

Would that most of our consumer world and part of the food supply chain were like-minded. Alfreton Grange reminded us that focus, creativity and determination can succeed in making changes for the better. Their efforts, indeed, are ongoing and the Packaging Federation will be supporting them at every turn.

In a rueful moment I recalled the difficulties in getting companies to take a moment to step back and engage with these FFL issues and to sponsor schools in this vital FFL project work. All of our schools had much to commend them, including The Warwick School and All Saints Catholic Academy. Ousedale School was also singled out for the Love Food, Hate Waste award.

We hope to run this competition with more schools next year and we plan to try and motivate the supply chain to help us do this. The talent and energy shown by most of the participating students is a timely reminder of who exactly will take our industry and society forward. It certainly behoves us to nurture and support this young talent going forward.

On that note, many thanks again this year to our eight sponsoring packaging companies. They are: Alexir, Ardagh, DS Smith, Linpac, Metalbox Benevolent Fund, Nampak, RPC and Sealed Air.

Our Fresher for Longer programme is led by a partnership including us, INCPEN, Kent Resource Partnership, Love Food Hate Waste and the FDF. Please contact any of these organisations or me directly at the Packaging Federation for further details. We look forward to getting you on board.

Many thanks again

Dick Searle