World Packaging Organisation judging takes place in Bali

Bali was the venue for this year’s Autumn meeting of the World Packaging Organisation, the WPO. Myself and Rachel Bayswater's primary purpose in attending was to deliver the judging session of the 2020 WorldStar awards. There is also an opportunity to network with other global professional and trade bodies with packaging, food science and related technology interests.

A WPO working week is Sunday to Thursday so when people in the UK were tucking into their roast dinner, I was updating the WPO Exec Board on our KPI outcomes. Congratulations are given on the news we had exceeded our financial and entry targets. The room falls silent though when I confirm we will not be seeking a new contract to run WorldStar at the end of 2020. Eleven years is enough and time for someone else to take WorldStar to new heights.

Judging day arrives and the programme is full – 321 entries to assess in seven hours is going to be a challenge. Voting is straightforward with a show of hands or rather paddles, which gives the impression of a group directing aircraft as they taxi, however as we are in Indonesia the paddles have been replaced by fans which are also useful for keeping cool despite air conditioning. By lunchtime we are ahead of schedule – most judges have done their homework, which makes a change. The afternoon session covers the new categories introduced for this round. Packaging Materials and Components proves problematic as not everyone has materials knowledge or understanding and this will need to be addressed for next year. Finally we are done and a whole hour ahead of schedule. Not every entry has been successful, but almost all from the UK have won something. It’s been a hectic day and both of us have just about enough energy to fall into our beds.

Working Groups meet the next day with Rachel presenting in Marketing and I making a similar contribution in Education. My group begins with a debate on training course locations in 2020 and new course development. Industry 4.0 and environmental impact feature prominently – one to feed back to my colleagues in the Training Academy. My presentation on the UK Waste and resources strategy goes down well with two countries seeking a dialogue with IOM3 on potential work in this area – I can see the Team are going to be busy with the follow ups. Two training sale enquiries, conclude a successful day.

The midweek session is given over to a packaging conference organised by our hosts. Many people have flown in from Jakarta, which involves a two-hour flight. It’s easy to forget that Indonesia is made up of 1,750 islands over two time zones. I sit next to an expat from Dundee who misses Saturday afternoons at the Tannadice and snow, although more the former! The conference features all the Executive Board who outlines the key drivers for the sector over the next decade as being ‘Intelligent, Eco-friendly, High-barrier, and Lightweight.’ The subsequent conference dinner is held outside in the warm evening breeze and as we are in the Far East ends with the inevitable karaoke session. The Australian WPO President’s rendition of ‘Waltzing Matilda’ is unforgettable. Fortunately I am able to slip off before my number is called!

The event concludes with the Board meeting. Aside from the routine of accounts and Working Group reports, Ghana is re-admitted to membership after a five year hiatus and Palestine is admitted as a new member. As a Swansea University graduate, the Palestinian CEO is looking forward to a fruitful relationship with IOM3, which is a good note on which to finish this meeting.