Naples, Fla. — The plastics industry met the challenge of the pandemic, but needs to take more action on sustainability, according to Tom Salmon, chairman and CEO of plastics processing giant Berry Global Inc.
"The global pandemic demonstrated the strength of the industry and our ability to adjust to manufacturing critical items and keeping people safe," Salmon said March 22 at the Plastics News Executive Forum in Naples.
He added that plastics firms "collaborated to access raw materials. … In a time of uncertainty, we delivered."
Sustainability remains a major focus for Berry and other major firms, as does providing accurate information about the value of plastics.
"You have to be the ambassadors," Salmon said, while pointing to the audience. "You have to have these discussions. You can't be afraid."
Evansville, Ind.-based Berry is increasing the amount of post-consumer recycled material in its products.
"Our goal is for all plastics to be recyclable and recycled," Salmon said. "Consumers are demanding change, and they're looking to the brands they love to deliver that change."
"We recognize the global problem of plastics waste and the role we can play in eliminating it," he added.
Berry and other plastics processors "need to look at our own scrap … at this point, there should be very little unaccounted for."
Berry also "wants a larger voice" on sustainability from consumer brands. "That will pull demand through the value chain," said Salmon, a 35-year plastics veteran who was named the firm's CEO in 2017.
In its 2021 fiscal year, Berry posted sales of almost $14 billion. The firm employs 47,000 at almost 300 facilities worldwide.
According to Plastics News data, Berry ranks as North America's largest injection molder, sixth-largest thermoformer and 12th largest blow molder.