Sustainability Pathways

The Grocer’s editor-in-chief, Adam Leyland, will be among the key speakers at the Rethinking Materials conference in London next week.

It will take place at Hilton London Bankside on 14-15 May. More than 400 decision-makers from 35 countries will attend the only international summit focused on accelerating the commercialisation of innovation in new materials for consumer goods.

Leyland is set to lead the opening seminar of day one, Sustainability Pathways: Corporate Transitioning Towards Sustainable Supply Chains. He will be joined by luminaries including Paul Bedford, Deliveroo director of policy & sustainability; and John Ryan, R&D packaging director international at Kraft Heinz.

The panel will look at accelerating the transition to more sustainable supply chains and how innovation in materials is supporting these goals; how major corporations navigate conflicting and contradictory commitments on sustainability; how evolving regulation is impacting the ability to develop business long-term strategies; and many other vital issues.

The rest of the Rethinking Materials summit – organised by William Reed, publisher of The Grocer – will present new opportunities for partnerships and investment in the changing landscape of synthetic materials, bio-based alternatives and circular solutions.

With an emphasis on reducing reliance on virgin feedstocks, scaling regenerative solutions and enhancing the performance of bio-based materials, the event will provide pivotal insights into the challenges facing business leaders in tackling waste both upstream and downstream.   

Attendees will hear from such thought-leaders as Unilever global head of R&D packaging excellence & technology Colin Kerr, AB InBev global packaging innovation manager Farida Bensadoun, Defra head of governance & government relations Alex Hilton, Environmental Resources Management associate partner Richard Platt, and WRAP head of materials systems transformation Helen Bird.

Discussions will focus on the viability of new technologies and next generation materials; routes to scale-up; and cross-sector applications in packaging, textiles, durable goods and disposable personal hygiene products.

One highlight of the main agenda is set to be the Dragons’ Den-style Technology Showcases. The fast-paced session will see startups explain their tech to brands, retailers, producers, manufacturers, and investors. After pitching, they will be interviewed on stage by a panel of industry specialists.

Businesses making pitches will include Algreen, maker of the world’s first viable, 100% biobased polyurethane solutions; DisSolves, which is commercialising a disruptive, patented technology for creating edible pods and films; and Werewool, developer of the next generation of biodegradable performance textile fibres.

The showcasing startups have been carefully selected by material innovation specialists, to ensure only the most pioneering, dynamic tech is being spotlighted at the summit. The selection jury comprised Efrat Friedland, Positive Plastics; Luc des Vallières, Source Green; Sonalie Figueiras, Green Queen; Justin Guest, Archipelago Ventures; Johanna Wiese, Mistletoe; and Sagar Tandon, Beyond Impact.

Rethinking Materials will also offer attendees the opportunity to meet startups face-to-face, learn about their innovations firsthand and ask questions directly to the entrepreneurs at the StartUp Exhibition. Business leaders can book in one-to-one meetings and discover the next big solution that will futureproof their companies. Day1Lab, FlexSea and Zerocircle will be just some of the startups in the exhibition, showcasing the likes of plastic alternatives using starch-based carbohydrate materials, ‘plug & play’ bioplastics, and ocean-degradable plastic alternatives.

“The Grocer is delighted to be the media partner for Rethinking Materials,” said Leyland. “As we’ve seen through our New Product & Packaging Awards, innovation in the fmcg sector is being increasingly dominated by the use of new and more sustainable packaging solutions, and this important conference covers the latest technological breakthroughs, and the next generation too through an exciting programme of Dragons’ Den-style technology showcases.”

Register now, using the code GROCER10 to claim a 10% discount.