Canadian Packaging

More Women Industry Leaders Will Benefit All Packaging Stakeholders

George Guidoni   

There is something exciting and refreshing going on in the top echelons of the global packaging industry, where glass ceiling are being smashed on many levels to give women industry leaders unprecedented levels of recognition and influence to breathe new life into an industry that had essentially remained an old boys network for far too long.

Earlier this month, the World Packaging Organisation (WPO) had elected Luciano Pellegrino, managing director of the Brazilian Packaging Association (ABRA) as WPO president, marking the first time that WPO will be headed by a woman in the group’s 50-year history.

A few months ago, the venerable PMMI — The Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies had elected Patty Andersen, vice-president of human resources at prominent end-of-line machinery manufacturer Delkor Systems, as PMMI’s chairman of the board—again, for the first time in the group’s history.

Over at the Canadian Meat Council (CMC), which is celebrating its Centennial anniversary this year, Sofina Foods vice-president of industry and government relations Kerry Towles was elected as chair of the board in yet another significant “first” in CMC’s illustrious history.


Happy coincidences or an emerging megatrend? We would like to believe it’s the latter, and long overdue at that.

The lack of women in senior leadership roles is not something that has historically been restricted to packaging-industry circles, far from it, but it’s about time that imbalance is being rectified, with women professionals finally getting their due as a largely untapped vast pool of visionary leadership excellence to disrupt the industry outdated sexist status quo to the dustbin of history.

As president of the Toronto-based rigid plastic packaging products manufacturer Polytainers, Susan Dalgleish is an inspired choice to lead the privately owned company forward after the eventual pending retirement of its founder and current chief executive officer Robert Barrett.

For all the remarkable success that Polytainers has achieved over the years, the strengthening anti-plastic backlash will be a serious challenge for Polytainers and other companies like it to navigate in coming years. Happily for Polytainers, Dalgleish seems exceptionally well prepared and confident in taking on the enormous task of changing the narrative about the role of plastic packaging in the modern consumer society.

“A lot of our customers as grappling with how to explain a very complex topic to their consumers the right way, to ensure their brands remain strong and healthy,” Dalgleish told Canadian Packaging magazine in a recent interview. “We have a big job our hands to educate people that plastic is a wonderful material.

“Any time you look at a proper life-cycle assessment, you will find that plastic is often a better material than any other out there in terms of putting more product on a pallet, taking more trucks off the road, and generating real savings in greenhouse gas emissions.

“There is no doubt that there are big changes coming,” Dalgleish says, “but it’s still difficult to predict exactly what those will be.

“What worries me is that when science and data don’t drive the conclusions, virtually any type of packaging can be banned for political reasons.

“That’s why we are committed to working with all our partners in the industry to try to inform the public about the many sustainability advantages of plastic by getting the right information out there.

Says Dalgleish: “I think our customers are going through a major education process that we are a part big part of.

“And as everyone in the value chain becomes more versed in the subject (plastics sustainability), we will be able to agree on promising new options that provide a more pragmatic approach to plastics circularity than we had so far.”


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Category Captains 2024