Society of Plastics Engineers Fall Conference Takes Shape

Society of Plastics Engineers Fall Conference Takes Shape
Digital Exclusive

The Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE) has finalized its lineup of keynote speakers for its October annual conference, with the goal of addressing the challenges facing the flexible packaging industry.

FlexPackCon® 2023, which will be held October 10–12 in Montreal, will include speakers from along the value chain of flexible packaging, says Pierre Sarazin, FlexPackCon® conference chair. Sarazin also is vice president of research and development and sustainability at PolyExpert based in Canada.

About the Program

“From materials and equipment suppliers to processors, converters, packagers, and brand owners, FlexPackCon® 2023, presented by the SPE Flexible Packaging Division, spans the supply chain,” according to the SPE website. “Engineers, researchers, marketers, and other flexible packaging professionals come together to learn about new developments in materials, trends, challenges, and opportunities in this double-digit growth market.”

The conference, which first started around 2005, usually attracts about 350 to 400 people, primarily from North America, Sarazin says.

“This event stands out as the first post-pandemic technical conference in North America to focus exclusively on flexible packaging,” he adds. “There have been many upheavals in value chains—and there’s more to come. The industry is undergoing major changes in a global context where plastics and packaging are strongly contested because of the waste they generate despite their essential role. The banning and limiting of plastic packaging and new regulations aimed at increasing the circularity of materials are driving major changes in packaging technology development.”

Numerous Presentations

The conference will include presentations that address issues involving flexible packaging sustainability and circularity, new approaches to achieve barrier properties, the evolution of mechanical and advanced recycling, new regulations, bio-degradable and bio-based materials, food development requiring new packaging concepts, and packaging challenges along the supply chain, the website says.

The scheduled keynote presentations include the following:

  • “In Single-use Plastic, the Issue is Single-use, not Plastic,” by Anne-Marie Boulay, professor at Polytechnique Montréal and director of the International Life Cycle Consortium at CIRAIG.
  • “Flexible Packaging Past, Present and Future: Reflections on a Century of Technology Advancement,” by Barry Morris, Ph.D., retired R&D fellow for Dow.
  • “Towards Recyclable Flexible Packaging: Boosting Demand, Supply, and Everything In Between,” by Eadaoin Quinn, sustainable packaging senior manager for the Americas at Mars, Inc.
  • “Compostable Flexible Film for Snack Foods—Development and Commercialization,” by Pak Meng Cham, Ph.D., senior principal scientist for global research and development foods packaging—sustainable materials commercialization at PepsiCo.
  • “The Future Of Sustainable Flexible Packaging—Long-Term Strategic Forecasts To 2032,” by Tom Dunn, managing director at FlexPacknology™. Dunn was inducted into the PMMI Packaging Hall of Fame in 2012, according to his website. 
  • “Bioplastics From a U.S. Policy Perspective, and the Role of LCA In This Process,” by Mike Levy, market area director of sustainability and GHG Consulting CLE—Certified Lifecycle Executive at First Environment. First Environment is an environmental engineering and consulting firm based in New Jersey, according to the company website.

“With recent decisions by the U.S. government and renewed interest in bioplastics, an important session at the conference will focus on these materials,” Sarazin says.

More Sessions

“There will also be numerous presentations on the design of mono-material packaging, the strategy for the use of recycled materials, and innovative solutions for designing recyclable barrier structures,” Sarazin also says. “There will also be presentations and a panel discussion on fluorine-free polymer processing aids, a technically challenging topic for the entire flexible packaging industry.”

The sessions are:

  • Bio-based plastics and compostables
  • Extrusion and processing innovations
  • Sustainable package designs and approaches
  • Barrier and coating developments
  • Recycling and regulatory developments
  • Additives for sustainable design
  • Panel: Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances-free processing aid alternatives

“We were surprised to have a record number of abstracts submitted, and they were very relevant,” Sarazin says, adding that there will be about 30 presentations in addition to the keynotes. “So, we reorganized the conference to double the number of presentations.”

More Details

Early registration for the event ends on August 17. The cost for SPE members is $599, but that fee goes to $699 starting August 18. The cost is $799 for nonmembers, with the fee increasing to $899 on August 18. Students can attend for $199, with the fee staying the same starting August 18.

For more information about the event or to provide sponsorships, go to SPE.

Thomas A. Barstow is senior editor of FlexPack VOICE®.