Interview with Jim Downham, president and CEO, Packaging Association of Canada
CP: “The Packaging Association of Canada (PAC) has re-energized itself in the last couple of years. Can you give some insight as to how this came about?”
JDD: In the past, PAC’s revenue stream relied mainly on membership dues and the PACKEX International trade show and conference.
Around 2000, attendance to the PACKEX show began to decline, while at the same time members began to question the value of their membership. Over the years it became increasingly evident that the PAC needed to develop additional value-added products and to rethink its vision in order to keep its membership.
We listened to the concerns of our members and in 2007 we launched a new “Vision” for the PAC to provide leadership for the packaging industry across Canada and increase our profile within the global market. Our “Mission” is to maximize value and sustainable growth for our association and our members.
We introduced a “Value Proposition” that essentially re-energized the Association. It revolves around five key areas: Sustainable packaging leadership; enhancing enterprise value; people protection; educating and developing leaders of tomorrow; and leading relations between industry and government.
It should be noted that Sustainable Packaging Leadership remains a key priority. The reality is that sustainability is extremely important to our membership and it is essential for the Association to be on the cutting edge of developments and to provide leadership.
CP: “What action has PAC taken to make Sustainability a priority?”
JDD: A central Sustainability initiative, for example, was developing a partnership with the Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC), based in Charlottesville, Virginia, which allowed us to adopt its definition of Sustainability for North America and use their design guidelines as a model. About 20% of the SPC members also belong to the PAC.
We also created the Sustainable Packaging Leadership Awards competition, with key sponsorship from Wal-Mart Canada. The PAC national conference—held between September 12 and 14, 2008, in Quebec City—featured Sustainability as its main theme, with the conference entitled: Green: Packaging Today for Tomorrow.
Other sustainability initiatives undertaken by the PAC includes partnering with Wal-Mart to produce two expositions for their suppliers and the packaging industry. We also signed a Strategic Partnership with TerraChoice to develop the S-PAC Eco rating system, and one with Bullfrog Power for using renewable energy for all PAC Ontario events and the PAC national office.