The AIP would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Kailash Bajpai MAIP, CPP & Helen Walters MAIP on 25 Years of Membership to the Institute. The AIP asked Kailash & Helen some questions about their time in the industry…
How long have you been in the industry? What was your first role?
Kailash: I am approaching three decades in the industry; that is a long innings. My first role was as a Packaging Development Chemist for Dabur India Ltd.
Helen: In early 1989 after returning to work after the birth of my first child I was lucky enough to work part time with the company I had been employed with since 1980 as a Laboratory Analyst. It was a pharmaceutical company called The Boots Company Australia at North Rocks near Parramatta in NSW and a project they needed completed at that time was the identification, organisation and specification writing for their artwork and packaging files, which had never been attempted and as you can guess needed a lot of sorting and organising, which I loved doing. So this was my first introduction to the world of packaging and artwork.
What made you not only join the AIP, but also remain a Member for 25 years?
Kailash: I always believed you learn more by exchanging ideas and experiences from experts in the field. I not only learned about latest trends in Packaging Technology, but also made acquaintances which were and are still are mutually beneficial.
Helen: When we decided to move to the Gold Coast, Queensland in 1993, I was lucky enough to be employed by Herron Pharmaceuticals in Tennyson. Using my prior knowledge of packaging and specifications and chemical and microbial laboratory techniques I was employed in both roles simultaneously developing Herron’s Stability Testing Program and artwork and packaging files, which included working closely with packaging suppliers. Knowing then that packaging and artwork was what I wanted to know more about, in 1995 I contacted the AIP to see if I could become a member and after answering the relevant questions was admitted. From this point onward, I was very proud and honoured to be a part of an industry which was constantly on the move with new innovation, ideas and importance.
I didn’t realise that I had been a member for 25 years until recently when speaking with Mark Kelton at the AIP. I have remained a Member for 25 years because I am proud of this industry and the AIP and what they both mean to everyday people, society and the environment with exciting innovation and design as well as recycling, reusing and reducing of waste which has always been a huge focus for me. I also worked very hard at attaining my Diploma in Packaging Technology and am very proud of this achievement and without the Australian Institute of Packaging and my tutor Fellow Emeritus Professor Harry Lovell OAM this would have not been possible or even attempted.
You attained your Certified Packaging Professional (CPP) designation recently – how has this been useful to your career?
Kailash: Attaining the Certified Packaging Professional (CPP) Designation has given me reassurance and confidence that I am not deviating from Packaging Science fundamentals. For me that is very critical.
You undertook a Diploma in Packaging Technology during this time – how has this degree been useful to your career?
Helen: In 2002 after a few years at Herron my role changed to Packaging & Artwork Coordinator and then Packaging Technologist. I was asked to write and submit the Herron Pharmaceuticals National Packaging Covenant Action Plan, which I continued to submit and update the NPC Action Plans for Herron until I left them after 15 years in 2008. It was during this time that I saw an advert for the Diploma of Packaging Technology and asked my manager if I could undertake it. I had to convince him that the Diploma would not only be a benefit to me but also to the company, and so I started on the pathway to attaining my Diploma.
In 2008 after I received my Diploma in Packaging Technology I applied for a position with Goodman Fielder Home Ingredients as Packaging Technologist at their biscuit factory in Carole Park where I learnt so much about packaging, design, customer requirements, projects and machinery that this knowledge will stay with me forever. Sadly I was made redundant from this position in 2012. Although since then I have never been in the capacity of Packaging Technologist, I have still been closely involved in packaging, artwork and various projects for new introductions and changes in all of my positions since then. Gaining and maintaining relationships with packaging manufacturers, suppliers and customers has been an integral part of every role I have had.
What changes have you seen within the industry over the last 25 years?
Kailash: Some things have remained mostly the same, including companies forgetting or leaving packaging design and development to the last minute. Thankfully it happens less frequently these days. 3D printing and Digitalisation of packaging design have made life as a Packaging Technologist a little easier.
Helen: There are many I can think of but again, the focus on recycling, reusing and reducing of packaging waste is one that can never be lost or slackened. In the past 25 years the reduction of wall thickness and weight and the change from non recyclable plastics to recyclable plastics and still being able to protect the product has been amazing, but still has a long way to go. Currently the focus of many companies is to replace virgin PET, HDPE and other plastics with recycled PET. This to me is one of the best changes over the past 25 years with companies being more environmentally focused as well as looking at innovation, light weight options and recyclability. One thing I always check when I buy product packaged in plastic trays is to see if the mobius loop and recycle number is present. It pains me to say that there are still a lot of plastic trays out there which aren’t identified and to me and I am sure many other consumers’ means that they mustn’t be recyclable. In this time of environmental concerns being in the forefront, I would have thought that the manufacturers of the plastic packaging would automatically add the mobius loop to their mould to ensure the customer and consumer are constantly educated in the life cycle of plastic.
I take my hat off to the major grocery stores now encouraging consumers to save and return soft plastic wraps and bags back to the stores and working with their partners to recycle this plastic into benches and other useful products as a way to reduce the land fill and environmental issues we have with plastics now.
The apparent slow introduction of user friendly packaging has been quite frustrating to me and although the developing innovation is available I feel the majority of industry does not want to venture into this area and I presume this is because of the cost of change to equipment and machinery. Although I can see there have been huge advances and innovation is being recognised in this area, I still do not believe they are being implemented quickly enough for the elderly or physically impaired. As Packaging Technologists we can only inform and educate our employers on the needs of consumers but it is them who need to want to introduce change. My Diploma dissertation written in 2007 was on this subject and is called:
“With the increase in the average age and infirmities of consumers in Western Europe and the USA, what steps can be taken to make packaging more ‘user friendly’?
The wine industry continuing to move from cork to metal twist top bottle caps is another change and this industry is one I would love to be involved in one day with every aspect of a bottle of wine’s packaging and design being one I would definitely enjoy to be part of.
If you could give a new person entering the industry any advice what would it be?
Kailash: Packaging is ever-evolving and is very progressive in multi dimensions. It can provide fulfilling and rewarding opportunities.
Helen: My advice? Hmmm…This industry is hard to crack because many, many companies and industries do not understand or know the advantages people with our packaging knowledge, capability and experience can bring to their business. But don’t give up and keep your momentum and enthusiasm for this industry and it will reward you. The packaging industry is continuously developing, changing, innovating and researching which is exciting in itself.