Meet Kyle, senior counsel, director of commercial and sustainability, Berry Global
“I have friends that would say, ‘Why are you in plastics?’ And I’m thinking, what better industry to be in to make a difference than the plastics industry?”
Kyle works for a company that makes more than 100,000 types of packaging.
“I’m a sustainability attorney for a company that makes plastic packaging and products. The word sustainability means different things to different people and different organizations. What it looks like for a company that sells coffee beans is fundamentally different than what it looks like to a company that sells cloud storage space.”
And, of course, sustainability means something different to companies that make stuff.
“For us as manufacturers, sustainability means operational energy reduction, it means reduced emissions of the logistics required to transport your products. From a design perspective, it means identifying the most economical, lowest emissions footprint for your packaged products. And what are the end markets that will support the collection and sortation of this material, to ensure that it’s not landfilled and can be used again and again.”
As senior counsel and director of commercial and sustainability for Berry Global, with more than 19,000 customers across 39 countries, Kyle not only helps make sure that his company’s positions on sustainability are well founded. He’s also his company’s voice for smart changes in public policy to support more sustainable packaging.
Meet Kyle. One of America’s Change Makers.
His company’s materials touch billions of consumers worldwide. That’s why its sustainability goals are so important.
“When I joined Barry, fortunately, our sustainability goals, even in 2019, were ahead of the curve. We have a goal to design 100% of our fast-moving consumer goods as recyclable by 2030. Now, some people say, ‘Oh, yeah, that should be easy.’ Well, once you start appreciating the diversity of applications that plastics provide, then you realize that the challenge to design everything that you make as recyclable becomes increasingly more difficult.”
Kyle spends a lot of time educating public officials on the ins and outs of sustainability related to plastic packaging.
“We have 9,000 jurisdictions in the United States that represent different recycling programs. And so the complexity is
“And public officials are coming to terms with the fact that plastic packaging is also complex. We’re all asking how we can create efficient and effective policy at the government level to ensure that the things we buy in packaging, and the packaging that’s used with those things, are returned to a value stream and not simply incinerated or landfilled.”
“Unfortunately, there are no silver bullets.”
True, but there are new technologies that can dramatically increase the types and amounts of plastics that can be recycled. And Kyle’s using his voice to spread the word.
“Advanced recycling technologies hold the promise of allowing us to take those hard to recycle materials that maybe can’t be recycled through mechanical recycling.”
“We’ve had successes most recently in educating lawmakers to the importance of advanced recycling. They can see its promise of taking otherwise hard to recycle materials, plastic toys, flexible packaging, food pouches, snack wrappers, things that are landfilled today, and making that into new packaging that has high quality and purity requirements, such as for pharmaceutical and food packaging.”
Kyle knows that his company cannot make great strides in sustainability on its own.
“It’s going to take a massive amount of collaboration between different groups within my organization, but also externally, our supply chain, our customers, our suppliers and lawmakers. It’s gonna take collaboration from all of us to accomplish our shared goals in sustainability.”
And he’s willing – and able – to use his voice.
“I think, personally, the only way that we’re going to accomplish big things in sustainability is by evangelizing and showing people that they do have skin in the game, that they can make a difference with their own purchasing decisions and then how we treat our waste.”
“Nobody wants plastics in the environment. Nobody wants to landfill and incinerate waste if we can avoid it. We’re all trying to accomplish the same things. So, let’s talk about solutions that we can all be a part of that will help divert more waste from landfills and ensure that we recycle more of our products.”
He even uses that voice at home.
“When we use products and one of my children tries to throw something away that is otherwise recyclable, that doesn’t fly in my house.”
Keep speaking up, Kyle.
We wish Kyle continued success.