Michael Lenox and Tate Moeller get into the specifics of biopolymer films as part of the overall sustainable innovation ecosystem.
Tate Moeller (00:10):
Our background is in the waste industry. We come from a place of collaboration where we know the end market, we know what it looks like, and that this material cannot be recycled. Now we’re in this position where we uniquely make these premium compostable biodegradable films. We are trying to normalize it – to bring compostable packaging or biopolymer based packaging to the mainstream. We are looking at public policy as a way to stimulate growth, but also from brands who are driven by consumer behavior. Do you have an example of what would be the fastest way for biopolymer based packaging to really take off?
Michael Lenox (01:02):
Petrochemicals is one of the industrial sectors we cover in our book. They are a large emitter of greenhouse gases and the switch away from traditional plastics is a critical part of this equation. I think you started to hit upon the number of different levers you have. One could be consumer markets and this idea that consumers will start to value these retailers as an intermediary who feel different types of social pressure to change their packaging. When it comes to policy, anything from putting a price on greenhouse gas emissions to subsidizing innovation, could all be ways to try to get that technology further. Where biodegradables and these alternative technologies really start to take off, of course, is when they’re viewed as better on the existing dimensions of merit. They either provide better packaging or are cheaper than the alternatives, then the market will do a great job and the product will take off. So the question is, can you get there through innovation, and then when not, where does policy come in to kind of tip the scales.
Lenox is the Tayloe Murphy Professor of Business Administration, Senior Associate Dean, and Chief Strategy Officer at the University of Virginia Darden School of Business.
Moeller is the Director of Sustainability Solutions at Minneapolis-based 2DegreesCooler™.