We sat down with Michael Basagre, our sales and sustainability manager and a leader in the sustainable packaging sector. With over 14 years in the packaging industry, Michael Basagre has navigated through various roles from manufacturing to sales and marketing, eventually integrating a focus on sustainability. This shift mirrors the industry’s evolution, where sustainability and packaging are now inseparable. Reflecting on this journey, Michael said, “Packaging previously has always been about the product itself. But today, we’ve evolved to ensure packaging and sustainability are intertwined.” Michael’s interest in sustainable packaging was sparked by increasing customer and market demands for more sustainable options. Initially lacking in-depth knowledge, he embarked on a journey of learning and exploration. “What started as a bit of a curious process to help customers in the markets ended up becoming a really

Michael Basagre

good learning curve,” he shared. This curiosity evolved into a significant professional focus, where he continuously strives to understand and implement sustainable practices in packaging.

Current Trends

Several key trends dominate the sustainable packaging landscape:

  • Designing Out Waste: Aiming to eliminate waste in the design phase itself.
  • Circular Economy: Ensuring that packaging can be part of a closed-loop system.
  • Recycled Content: Increasing the use of recycled materials in packaging.
  • Comprehensive Understanding: There’s a growing trend towards understanding packaging’s carbon footprint, recyclability, and overall environmental impact.
  • Michael highlighted, “What I’m starting to see across the spectrum of packaging is an eagerness to understand packaging in all its forms, from measuring it correctly to understanding its carbon footprint and recyclability.”

Balancing Cost

Balancing cost with sustainability begins with a clear understanding of the company’s purpose. When businesses align their sustainability goals with their core mission, it becomes easier to integrate sustainable practices into their overall strategy. “I always recommend just getting really clear on why you’re going on this journey,” he advised. Starting with a clear “why” helps guide the development of a balanced and effective sustainability plan.

Future of Packaging

In the next 5-10 years, packaging will increasingly be shaped by legislation and regulatory changes. This will drive more accountability and transparency, pushing brands to authentically share their sustainability journeys. Governments will play a crucial role in setting standards and enforcing compliance, which will, in turn, foster more sustainable practices. “There’s going to be more accountability and regulation, which is a good thing. It will create more awareness and transparency,” Michael noted.

Regulations & Policies

Regulations compel businesses to adopt sustainable practices by creating urgency and setting deadlines. Upcoming regulations, such as those from New Zealand’s Ministry for the Environment, are crucial for companies to monitor and adapt to. Early compliance with these regulations can offer a competitive advantage. “The changes that governments make have a direct flow-on effect, which is a good thing. It forces businesses to move towards those deadlines.”

Starting Your Sustainable Journey

Companies should start their sustainability journey with a clear purpose, invest time and resources, and develop a coherent strategy involving all stakeholders. This approach ensures long-term success and alignment with the company’s overall goals. “Make sure you’re on this journey for the right reasons and be prepared to invest time and resources into it,” Michael advised.

Newcomers to sustainable packaging should explore all options without bias and understand the pros and cons of each material. Building a robust framework for assessing materials helps in making informed decisions. “Don’t be afraid to look at everything. Be open to all materials and assess them equally.”

Common Misconceptions

A prevalent misconception is that there is a single, perfect sustainable material that can be universally applied. Another is the belief that all plastics are inherently bad. In reality, different materials serve various purposes, and some plastics play crucial roles in sectors like food safety and medical care. “Not all plastics are bad. For instance, in medical fields, plastic packaging prevents contamination.”

Partnerships & Collaborations

Essential partnerships include working with packaging suppliers, waste management services, and like-minded organisations. Collaboration fosters shared knowledge and innovation, leading to more effective sustainable practices. “Collaborate with your packaging suppliers and waste services. Partnering with like-minded organisations can also provide guidance and shared knowledge.”


The major challenge is simply getting started. Many companies fear making mistakes or not achieving perfection, which can paralyze them from taking any action. However, even small steps can significantly impact sustainable strategies. “The biggest challenge companies face is just getting started. There is a real fear of getting it wrong, but the littlest of actions can actually create great momentum,” Michael explained.


The most exciting innovations are not single breakthroughs but a holistic understanding of packaging’s role across various domains. Innovations are emerging from collaborations within supply chains, focusing on the entire lifecycle of packaging materials. This approach leads to more integrated and effective sustainable solutions. “The biggest innovation I’m seeing is a holistic perspective, where organisations look at packaging from a wider angle, including different partners and better collaboration.”

New Materials

While bioplastics and edible packaging are intriguing, their current impact is limited due to complexities in waste management and recycling systems. The future will likely see these materials integrated into broader, more adaptable systems rather than serving as standalone solutions. “Honestly, not much,” Michael said about the current role of new materials. “There are limited opportunities for these innovations to have the outcomes required.”

Industry-Specific Needs

Different industries have unique packaging needs and regulations. “Packaging differs between sectors based on their needs. For example, food packaging must adhere to safety standards, while medical packaging prevents contamination.” Retail and e-commerce, on the other hand, should focus on recyclability and waste management.


Effective communication involves transparency and authenticity. Companies should openly share their sustainability journey, including challenges and milestones. This builds trust and loyalty among consumers who are increasingly valuing environmental responsibility. “Tell your customers that you’re going on this journey. Be transparent and share your challenges and progress.”

Consumers Influence

Consumers are more educated and influential than ever. Their purchasing decisions are increasingly guided by a brand’s sustainability practices. Therefore, companies need to integrate sustainable packaging into their strategies to meet consumer expectations and drive loyalty. “Consumers are making decisions based on if the brand is doing good for the environment. Sustainable packaging is one part of it but a very tangible one.”

Final Thoughts & Advice

Sustainable packaging is crucial for the future of our planet. Companies should prioritize progress over perfection, continuously evolve with technological and regulatory changes, and be prepared to adapt their packaging solutions to achieve long-term sustainability goals. “Progress over perfection is key. Sustainable packaging is a continuum, and you must be open to evolving with new innovations and changes.”

Ready to start your packaging journey?