• Gary Robinson

Synaptic Connections Newsletter 2019 Week#35

August 26, 2019 www.Synapticpackaging.com Image - Grand Tetons National Park, by Joshua Fanning

Week#35 of 2019

Good morning!  I hope this note finds you well and that you had an enjoyable weekend.  We’re back on a Monday and looking forward to another great week helping our clients advance their Sustainability strategies.  As you launch into your weekly goals - what’s on your list to help position your company towards a more Sustainable future?

In our last issue of Synaptic Connections, we closed with the concept of the down-ward helix, vs. the closed-loop vision of chasing circles.  This idea is a bit of a challenger thought.  Our very first issue of Synaptic Connections introduced the concept Built to Last - but really, should your packaging last forever?’.  When we think of the natural life-cycles of our planet, everything we see and experience around us follows a decay, and then regenerative cycle.  We are quickly learning that many petroleum materials used in disposable packaging, are ‘forever-materials’.  They are manufactured to be so robust that they do not naturally decay, or provide nutritional value.  As a result, these materials are bio-accumulating on our planet at an alarming rate.

Today, we are going to build on this downward helix idea and retrograde to our discussion on innovations with Natural/ Renewable Materials.   This is an audacious vision, no doubt, however, we see the early indicators of a world transitioning to a bio-based economy.  Many will quickly be skeptical of this idea due to the broad global acceptance and infrastructure for petroleum materials.  Skeptical or not - we see broad momentum building, and the technology transitioning from pipe-dream, to plausible, to scalable.  We are not shy about professing our opinion on the power of disruptive innovation, so let’s look at some of the directional drivers that support this vision for a bio-based economy.


  • Big Data In Sustainability - It’s coming, and when it does there will be very few places to hide.  We’ll explore this later, however, it is best to prepare for full transparency on what you use, how you dispose of it, and the environmental implications of those decisions.

  • Accountability - Population growth presents many environmental, social, and health challenges.  Local communities will continue to seek root cause to those challenges and hold those parties financially accountable.  Those who lead innovation to ReThink Waste will be rewarded, parties who fail to pro-actively develop end-of-life solutions will increasingly carry that cost burden.  This same message applies to toxicity and harmful chemicals.

  • Higher Strategic Ground - Natural/ Renewable materials hold a higher strategic ground - if they can perform to the consumer needs, and be economically viable.

  • Impact Investing - The money is there to power Sustainable innovation.   People around the world are voting with dollars on what they believe is important.  These investments will fund the transition to a renewable economy.

Head Winds:

  • Technical Performance - Petroleum and synthetic materials set a high bar on performance.  Natural/ Renewable materials however are showing very strong performance in laboratories, and commercial pilot labs around the world.  Disruptive Innovation is in the works, and thought leaders are carefully dissecting the value-proposition of non-Sustainable materials to build a more competitive offering.  Each week we feature news about these technologies in the links provided below.  It is safe to say that meaningful progress is being made in many facets of emerging materials and recovery technologies.

  • Economic Viability - We see two main cost drivers; 1) The cost of emerging Sustainable materials, and 2) The financial accountability that non-Sustainable materials will bear for their impact on the environment.  Many of the emerging technologies are showing progressive cost reductions as they scale, and activate abundant raw materials.  By contrast, non-Sustainable materials will continue to face supply disruptions, loss of consumer preferance, and economic accountability for their impacts on the environment and society.  These economic impacts, and the cost of their corrective actions, will influence the total cost of ownership for those purchasing these materials.  As the total cost of ownership is evaluated, a more balanced competition will be considered between non-Sustainable, and Sustainable solutions. We expect this trend to continue until a tipping point is reached, at which time the strategic higher ground will favor the Natural/ Renewable materials.  In many cases, where capacity exists, we expect that transition to be swift and decisive; as that is the characteristic of Disruptive Innovation.

That’s a wrap for today.   Drop us a line and let us know what you are doing to advance Sustainability within your work and communities.  Enjoy the news articles below, and have a great week!

Packaging Sustainability//

ReThink Waste//

Sustainable Investing//

The purpose of this newsletter is to stimulate innovative thoughts and constructive dialogue through the lens of sustainability.  New subscribers can send an e-mail to the link below to sign-up. 

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