18 August 2021

A look back at the past year in packaging

Jude Allan, Chair of IOM3 Packaging Society looks back over the past year and the activities within the group and what's to be expected over the coming months.

As we enjoy the summer holiday period, we can look forward to being able to hold physical events again in the not-too-distant future I thought it would be a good opportunity to look at what we’ve done in the last 12 months and what’s to come. While we’ve not been able to meet in person, we have been able to increase the communication about packaging and the engagement with our members in several ways, I hope you’ve enjoyed what we’ve done.

Direct communication – the new IOM3 website and the background systems make it much easier for me to email out directly to anyone who has registered their interest in the packaging society. I hope you’ve received these emails and found them interesting, please feel free to respond if you have any thoughts or comments.

There are a number of great channels for communication that have really come into their own over the past year while so many of us have been at home, I wanted to share with you some of the ways in which packaging has been in focus across the past year.

IOM3 Investigates… 

The IOM3 Investigates… podcast series launched with IOM3 CEO Colin Church speaking to Professor Margaret Bates, Executive Director at On Pack Recycling Label (OPRL) and Packaging Society Board member about sustainable packaging. 

Part 4 of the environment theme podcasts included IOM3 CEO Colin Church interviewing Sarah Greenwood (University of Sheffield/Packaging Consultant/Packaging Society Board member) and Sally Beken (KTN/UKCPN) to discuss the role plastics play in modern society and whether or not we can really be both plastic free and sustainable. 

The whole podcast series has developed some really high-quality content across the breadth of areas that IOM3 covers, recycling and sustainability have been important topics and we expect some additional packaging content in the months to come. 

Materials World Content

We’ve worked closely with the Materials World editorial team this year to increase the packaging content in the magazine. These are some of the highlights from the last few months:

Packaging design members of the IOM3 Packaging Society explain the targets, guidelines and legislation that affect packaging development and its journey to a circular economy.

Policy responses & influence

As you will hopefully be aware the Government released several policy consultations relating to packaging from the Plastic Packaging Tax last July, to the Extended Producer Responsibility for Packaging and Introducing a Deposit Return Scheme in England, Wales and Northern Ireland consultations this year.

IOM3 has been actively involved in informing members about the proposed policy reforms  and developing consultation responses with input from across the membership.

As part of this activity, we have held webinars, workshops, written articles and blog pieces.  

The blog piece I wrote in May talks about the way in which IOM3 were responding to the consultations on behalf of all members, not just our packaging members.

I certainly learnt a huge amount about policy consultations throughout this process and I really appreciate that it is one of the objectives of IOM3 to increase the external influence of the Institute by representing its membership in these really important areas.

The government policy relating to packaging will have a significant impact on our industry and the entire value chain, there will therefore be more activity following the government responses and as the proposed policy reforms are implemented as we aim to help our members with webinars and training that help to inform and address the skills gap that is likely to occur.


In addition to the webinars relating directly to packaging through the consultations, we have also been involved in a number of webinars on packaging from across the technical communities. 

One of the early highlights included a cross community webinar discussing decoupling materials inputs and growth – Plastics & Packaging. A panel of expert speakers considered the behaviour of consumers and the technology used in food grade recycling.

The Natural Materials Association lunchtime seminar series has included a number of webinars with packaging related content, with February’s seminar focusing on natural materials for packaging. 

IOM3 members can get access to the recording via the website via the link below.

Plans for the next year include a webinar series focusing on packaging, these will take the format of a regular lunchtime series, if you have any suggestions for topics that you’d like us to cover then please do let me know via email at [email protected]

We are also planning on partnering with other technical communities where we have shared areas of interest. The first of these is likely to be a joint webinar with the Light Metals Technical Community.


As mentioned, I wrote a blog post looking at what’s been happening within IOM3 in the lead up to submitting the packaging responses.

I also started the year with a blog post looking at the importance of packaging in society and why embracing change is essential to help solve some of the challenges ahead.

Future plans

While I hope you have enjoyed some of the virtual content I mentioned above, it would also be great to meet in person. We will hopefully be at a physical Packaging Innovation & Luxury Packaging 2021 show which is now planned to take place on 1–2 December and I very much hope that we get to meet some of you there.

Finally, we want to make sure that we are doing the best for you as members and that we are responding to the needs of the industry. To do this, we want to find out more about you and what your challenges are. We’d also really like to understand what you are looking for from your membership and you will expect to see our members survey in the near future which we’d really appreciate your time to complete.

Jude Allan, Chair of the Packaging Group