Future Challenges

connecting comPETence ONE:20 - Editorial

Otto Appel, PETnology, Germany

50 years of development has resulted in as sustainable PET bottle, that has been successfully used worldwide since its introduction. Today, however, the PET bottle faces the well-known problems of its own success. If you work anywhere along the PET value chain, you’re sure to be finding yourself in a lot of discussions these days, including outside of work, at home with your children or over dinner with your friends. The debate is everywhere. Climate, environment, packaging, PET — it’s all about the future.

These are discussions that we need to have, and the PET packaging industry as a whole has to engage with them — at both a local and a global level. How can the industry show strength, to ensure sustainable packaging that’s produced with conviction? Who can show the way? In other words: Who knows what the future holds? In this day and age, this is an entirely justified question. In particular for the PET packaging sector, I would say.


The history in mind

Allow me to take a broader perspective on the question of the future. Every time has its past and its future. And, we as a society have been worrying about the climate, mobility, population growth, supply security, waste management and sustainability for decades. The first study about the overexploitation of our planet’s resources was published by the Club of Rome as far back as 1972. “The Limits to Growth” received a great deal of attention and was hotly debated. Some highly interesting thoughts on resource conservation can also be found in Ferry Porsche’s 1978 autobiography “We at Porsche”. In the early 1970s, Porsche and his engineers were driven to act by the realisation that humanity was overexploiting its resources on all fronts and was entirely losing sight of the future, blinded by immediate success or fleeting comforts. Engineers have been working on sustainability for decades. So did the engineers in the PET packaging industry.


Who knows what the future holds?

In this issue of comPETence we dare a retrospective analysis, a fact-based discussion of the present and a critical outlook on the challenges in the PET packaging market. Sustainability and CO2 footprint are still the parameters that challenge engineers, move consumers and increasingly reach investors. These in turn review their investments and holdings for sustainability. It is therefore an exciting and obvious question for the PET packaging industry: who is in control?