We spoke to Luca Zerbini, Head of Marketing, Innovation and Sustainability for global packaging leader Amcor, about the challenges of creating innovations that work for entire industries and Amcor’s pledge to make all its packaging reusable or recyclable by 2025.
Tell us about your role at Amcor?
When I joined Amcor as head of strategy over four years ago, the company had been very successful through acquisitions and operational excellence. We realised going forward we had to focus on organic growth, bringing value to customers and sustainability. Amcor was already doing a lot of good things in sustainability, such as ensuring every project reduced energy use, waste and water consumption. But our focus turned to the packaging itself, and this has become core to our business. Our customers want to know how to deal with higher awareness of the issues created by plastics in general. We made a commitment at the start of 2018 to make all our packages 100 percent reusable or recyclable by 2025, and are helping our customers make this transition.
What does innovation mean to you?
Innovation means solving customers’ issues or opening their eyes to opportunities they have not yet seen. It’s about finding solutions that are not obvious and that bring value, for example: sustainability, ease of use, portability, safety, differentiation, and making products ecommerce-ready. These are all the big areas making packaging a top priority for companies.
How has innovation at Amcor evolved over the last 5 years?
The growth of ecommerce and the importance of sustainability have impacted our strategy. We’re running fewer, larger projects. Previously, Amcor developed solutions for individual customers. It meant there were thousands of very specific projects every year. It was inefficient, and didn’t allow us to anticipate the customer’s needs. Now, we have more than halved the number of projects we do, but our innovations are more impactful.
What structures did you put in place to change innovation?
We first defined where to play: we focused on 10 priority verticals where we knew we could add value (previously, we were serving more than 60). For every vertical, we created an innovation roadmap defining critical solutions needed. We’re experts in these industries: we understand their design needs, processes and material science challenges. We understand the machinery they use and try to find commercially viable solutions that can be developed with minimal changes to our customers’ current machine assets.