Jill Boughton is Founder and President of W2Worth Innovations - an organization that seeks to catalyze the use of solid waste as a resource as a means for mitigating the larger social, economic and environmental impacts caused by solid waste. She began this recent adventure upon retirement from a successful 24 year career at Procter and Gamble (P&G). Over her career at P&G, Jill managed Product Development activities for several of P&G's businesses, in categories ranging from Personal Health Care to Paper Products.
Jill will be one of our closing keynote speakers at Sustainability in Packaging 2014, taking place March 5-7 in Orlando, FL. She'll be discussing Solving Solid Waste Challenges by Working Both Ends of the Spectrum: Designing for Recovery of Waste Resources with our audience of more than 200 packaging and sustainability leaders. Her talk will dicuss how collaboration between those designing packages and those applying advances in waste management technology can enable a duplicative effect to driving scale, efficiency and ultimately maximizing value/recovery from the waste resource. She gave us a sneak preview interview leading into this year's event:
Could you share with us a little the story behind W2Worth Innovations and what are its main goals?
I spent 24 years as a product develop manager at Procter & Gamble. One of my last assignments was to manage a portfolio of disruptive innovation - innovations that fundamentally change markets as we know them today. P&G, in an effort to grow their business responsibly, was dealing with the issue of how to provide consumers with products they wanted and would improve their lives but in regions where waste infrastructure was largely lacking. They announced a long term Sustainability Goal of "eliminating consumer and manufacturing waste going to landfill". A project called "Waste to Worth" was assigned to this goal. Through years of extensive research we developed a model by which to enable lasting waste infrastructure by recognizing the resource value of waste - and in essence tying it with economic development.
In 2012, I became retirement eligible from P&G. However, by this time, I had become fascinated by this project and wanted to see it through. I basically asked to manage the project outside the auspices of the company - which represented a "win-win". P&G wants to see this vision come to fruition (and replicate). But, to their credit, they realized that the boundaries of a consumer goods company can be restricting when trying to influence the larger waste space. In creating W2Worth Innovations, I reap the years of investment and research provided by P&G for "Waste to Worth" and get the flexibility to work with other entities - governments, other companies (including competitors to P&G), technology vendors, etc. to drive the scale that will be necessary to drive this "waste as a resource" industry. We currently have some municipal scale pilots underway to prove out the model and inform replication.
The main goal of W2Worth innovations is to drive the recognition and conversion of solid waste as an economic resource. In other words, instead of mitigating waste, let's extract the value from it as a means for driving an economically viable industry. This is well beyond recycling, although recycling is an important component. This is about recognizing ALL waste has some value. Let's think about it like we would oil, gas, minerals, etc. What would be different if waste was valuable?
While this might sound strange, advances in technology and integration of technology has allowed for viable extraction of valuable of waste. That said, W2Worth is somewhat technology agnostic in that we are about finding solutions for driving the extraction of value from waste and not promoting a particular technology.
During our March event we will talk about topics design with intent for end of life, flexible packaging resource recovery strategies, waste management tools, reusable packaging in retail and diversion programs among other topics related to end of life and waste. Where do you see the biggest challenges and the great ideas when it comes to effective and sustainable waste management strategies?
While I believe a certain level of conservation is appropriate, the cynic in me knows that large scale consumption is only going to increase, especially in Emerging regions. And this is not necessarily a bad thing. After all, consumption can drive economic growth. In addition, we will see a demand for products where they do not exist today - and that is also not so bad. A lot of these products improve lives. So, the largest macro scale challenge I see is how to deal with this "consumption collision" that is on the horizon. The "collision" will impact both the availability of our natural resources and the larger scale waste crisis.
That said, this scary macro challenge is why we all will be at your conference. Unlike most of your attendees, I am not a package expert. I am all about trash. That said, I see so many opportunities for the waste and packaging industries to work together. As much as we like to say it happens, the truth is that collaboration between these two industries is in its infancy. So, my dream is to drive this collaboration and expand our understanding of what it means to "design packages and products for recovery". To the average Joe, that means enabling recycling. But, it can be so much more than that. What if we thought about enabling homogeneity of waste feedstocks to drive economic conversion of waste? What if we thought about energy recovery ? What if we thought about driving scale of recycling to compete with the petro chemical industry? What would have to be true to make that happen?
You will be discussing in your presentation waste as an economic resource - in terms of behavior change, in your opinion what would it take to change the mind set for both consumers and CPGs to see it as that?
As a long time product developer, I well know the challenges of driving consumer behavior change. I have come to believe that predicating success on consumer behavior change is a recipe for disaster. The recycling industry is a great example of that. Without proper incentives, the at source separation of recyclables is abysmal (example: US). While it has gotten better over the past few decades, the rate would have to increase dramatically in order mitigate the consumption collision. I don't think that is going to happen.
That leaves it up to the CPGs and the waste management industry to make it easy for consumers to be sustainable. For both the CPGs and the waste management industry it will come down to how to drive the economic benefits. This is exactly why I am fixated on waste being a viable economic resource. If waste truly has value and we can figure out how to convert that value economically, the industry will grow up around it. Believe it or not, I have already seen this on micro scales - people actually competing for trash because it represented some sort of value. It is a matter of driving that at scale and across both industries (CPG and waste).
What are you looking forward to hearing about at Sustainability in Packaging 2014?
Gosh... As a Packaging "non expert", I am just glad to be invited. As I mentioned above, my dream is to drive real collaboration between the Package and Waste industries to enable true "design for recovery". I have a pretty good handle on the waste challenges and am more than happy to impart them. I would like to better understand the challenges facing those designing the packages and the solutions that are surfacing. Because only through holistic understanding of the issues facing us all can we develop those clever solutions.
Sustainability in Packaging 2014 will take place March 5-7, 2014 in Orlando, FL. More than 300 leaders in the sustainability and packaging supply chains are expected to come together to discuss the opportunities, challenges and solutions that will lead to packaging innovations that improve sustainability and the bottom line. Nearly 50 experts from diverse organizations like Waste Management, The Coca-Cola Company, the NRDC, Aveda, P&G, Otterbox and more will engage and