FPA’s Emerging Leadership Council Starts Summer Intern Program

The Emerging Leadership Council, which was formed by the Flexible Packaging Association, will be meeting virtually with students interning at companies nationwide this summer to talk about careers in the flexible packaging industry.

The first meeting, held June 3, included interns from about 15 FPA-member companies, says Apurva Shah, director of strategic partnerships for Charter Next Generation, and an ELC member.

Each Friday through Aug. 5, about 35 interns will either meet in small groups that will include discussions with an industry mentor or they’ll hear from an industry leader, Shah says. The meetings will take about an hour. The goal is to try to get interns to seek careers in the industry.

At the first meeting June 3, FPA President and CEO Alison Keane mentioned the opportunities and challenges that come with a career in flexible packaging.

The flexible packaging industry is a $35 billion industry with 400 companies and more than 75,000 workers, she told students. She noted that flexible packaging makes up 19% of the total packaging market, just behind corrugated cardboard, at 24%. Keane says she expects that flexible packaging eventually will be No. 1. “It’s a big industry that most people don’t really think about,” she says.

The challenges, she adds, often revolve around sustainability and getting the recycling infrastructure in place to handle flexible packaging, which is a new technology compared to aluminum, glass, or cardboard that is more apt to be part of a community’s recycling system. Flexible packaging uses less energy and water to produce and less fuel to transport.

 “We win hands down,” she tells the students.

The industry is working hard with consumer packaged goods companies to meet circularity goals, which means there is a lot of opportunity, she says. 

“When glass was invented, there wasn’t a system to recycle glass. The same with aluminum. We are a fairly new format. And we are going to continue to work on circularity. It is a really innovative, young industry,” she says. “We have to keep working on the wave of the future and making sure that we advance education and advance the circular economy and the infrastructure so that we close that last leg—the recyclability and the compostability—and be able to use that package again in the next package for tomorrow.”