Eric Roegner is ready for a fight, and he wants the rest of the plastics industry by his side.
The future of the business depends on it, he said.
As president of Amcor Rigid Plastics, which is in the business of making plastic containers, Roegner is as pro-plastic as they come. That's not a surprise. From his view, the industry has a great story to tell in comparison to other packaging substrates such as aluminum and glass.
"This packaging is the most sustainable packaging on earth," he said during the keynote speech on the first day of the Plastics Packaging Summit organized by the Plastics Industry Association. "The message is going to be very simple. And it's this: We love plastic. We hate plastic waste. And the answer is we need to recycle."
Plastics, he said, cannot be looked at independently from the forces that impact perceptions of the material. "As we go into this, you can't separate where we are from the environment around us."
And that environment has plenty of naysayers who use plastic to gain political capital and, well, actual capital as part of fundraising efforts, Roegner said during a virtual presentation from an Amcor plant in Virginia Nov. 3. Amcor Rigid Packaging is a $3 billion unit of Australia-based Amcor plc and operates a network of 60 locations in North and South America.
Amcor is the largest blow molder in North America according to the new Plastics News' ranking data, with $2.4 billion in annual sales in the region. It also has thermoforming and flexible packaging operations in North America.
The importance of plastics, he said, has been highlighted during the COVID-19 pandemic as the material has proven to protect and provide for people.
"I would suggest that COVID has been very good for our industry. All of us have been involved in essential products and services. When COVID hit, we had to run our factories and our plants and our operations flat out," he said.
Plastics had been facing a growing tide of opposition before the pandemic hit, and now that the impacts of the shutdown are starting to wane, Roegner said he sees anti-plastic sentiment returning.