Wegmans Charity Helps Develop Sustainable Packaging Center
September 20, 2012
Gifts totaling $2.2 million from The Wegman Family Charitable Foundation and American Packaging Corporation to the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) will help create The Center for Sustainable Packaging.
The mission of the education and research center will be to deliver a unique brand of applied research solutions that will enable manufacturers to provide innovative products in a sustainable manner.
The Wegman Family Charitable Foundation contributed a $1 million towards the initiative. “This new program will make RIT and Rochester a destination for students, retailers and manufacturers with an interest in sustainable packaging,” said Danny Wegman, chairman of the board of The Wegman Family Charitable Foundation. “Support for innovative approaches to education is a focus area for our foundation. The RIT Center for Sustainable Packaging has the potential to be on the forefront of changes that will impact our future in a significant way.”
Food packaging is approximately a $340 billion industry worldwide. In the U.S., about one-third of household waste is food packaging, much of which can't be recycled.
“This initiative strikes directly at the heart of RIT’s educational mission,” said RIT President Bill Destler. “The Center for Sustainable Packaging will put students on the frontline of applied research that enables manufacturers to provide consumers with innovative products while neutralizing society’s impact on the depletion of vital resources. Through collaborative partnerships and industry networks the center will accelerate the development of realistic solutions in sustainable packaging.”
The center will be a testing ground for new ideas and solutions for students, researchers, faculty and corporate partners that are interested in sustainable packaging. It will also educate the next generation of packaging professionals who are intent on bringing sustainable principles to manufacturers around the world.
Because of RIT’s location in the Finger Lakes Region of New York state – a major hub of food production and processing that serves the densely populated northeast – experiments can happen quickly and results shared readily within the industry.
RIT is already the home of the American Packaging Corporation Center for Packaging Innovation, established in 2007 to focus on material science issues within packaging.
“The various components of the food packaging supply chain are siloed. Each works to maximize its own results, without a common goal of sustainability,” said Peter Schottland, president and CEO of American Packaging. “ In order to make the most progress on sustainable packaging, the best ideas across the industry are necessary. In an environment where the industry is aligned, experiments can happen, economies of scale are overcome, knowledge is shared, and results agreed upon.”
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