November 24, 2009
Improving the global sustainability of product packaging took a meaningful step forward with a new collaboration being created by The Coca-Cola Company and Michigan State University. Coca-Cola awarded $400,000 to MSU’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources to help establish a new Center for Packaging Innovation and Sustainability.
The center, to be housed in the MSU School of Packaging, will serve as a think tank for packaging innovation and sustainability and a research and education hub to measure and reduce the environmental impact of packaging. The Coca-Cola grant represents the initial gift in a campaign to establish the global center.
The goal of the initiative is to develop innovative packaging solutions that reduce costs while minimizing impacts on the environment, said Ingrid Saunders Jones, senior vice president of global community connections for The Coca-Cola Company.
Saunders Jones is well-known to the MSU community. A 1969 MSU graduate (Education), she set up a $1 million endowed scholarship in 2007, part of which will support the Multicultural Business Program in the Eli Broad College of Business.
The center will serve as an entry point for industry leaders to access MSU expertise from the colleges of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Engineering, and the Eli Broad College of Business. “By bringing together university and industry resources in supply chain, packaging, and engineering, this center will be able to effectively address issues of sustainability, discover environmentally and economically operative solutions, and consider new ways to manage environmental impact throughout the value chain,” said Elvin Lashbrooke, interim dean of the Eli Broad College of Business.
The center will include state-of-the-art technology for bench research and testing of packaging materials and will offer academic, outreach and continuing education programs. “It will be a clearinghouse that disseminates information and encourages action that speeds the adoption and implementation of sustainable practices,” said Satish Udpa, dean of the College of Engineering.
It is anticipated eventually to expand its reach internationally through research, development, education and training facilities in Dubai and Shanghai where MSU already has a strong academic presence.
“Packaging is ubiquitous throughout the food system and a critical component to the quality, safety and sustainability of the products we buy and eat,” said Jeffrey Armstrong, dean of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. “Coca-Cola’s funding commitment to establish the Center for Packaging Innovation and Sustainability will move us toward an unprecedented level of industry collaboration that will have global implications for improving packaging performance and sustainability.”
Back row (l-r): Kim Wilcox, MSU provost; Stephanie Rowbotham, supply chain consultant to The Coca-Cola Company; Ian Gray, MSU vice president for research and graduate studies; Scott Vitters, senior manager of environment and water resources, The Coca-Cola Company; Jeffrey Armstrong, dean, MSU College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. Front row (l-r): David Closs, chair, MSU Department of Supply Chain Management; Forrest Bayer, director of packaging, scientific and regulatory affairs, The Coca-Cola Company; Shell Huang, director of packaging research, The Coca-Cola Company; and Susan Selke, then acting director, MSU School of Packaging.