What made you choose packaging as a career, and what excites you about the sector?
Peipei Yang - I first arrived in Amsterdam to study Environmental Sciences, focusing on sustainable energy transition. After I finished my studies, there were a lot of sustainability internships open to me. I chose one within an international packaging company because they offered me an opportunity to help define their 2025 sustainability strategy through my project.
The whole project really excited me – developing sustainable packaging ideas into things that play a role in our everyday lives. I can see the industry is changing, and it is starting to rethink how products can be more sustainable. I was very excited to see there are so many opportunities and initiatives coming. It will take a cross-industry effort to push the sustainable agenda forward, and being a part of that is exciting for me.
What are the packaging challenges that you want to overcome?
Peipei Yang - In my current role, I oversee a greater degree of internal engagements and collaborations, between different departments within Trivium. Part of the challenge is ensuring that this process is repeated externally with suppliers and customers. If you’re promoting sustainability within your company, the environmental impact of that can be expanded by reaching out to other companies.
Another challenge is how we make the product journey more sustainable, from sourcing to design and consumer consumption to end-of-life. For that to happen, we need every stakeholder to think holistically. This kind of collaboration is happening but we as an industry need to embrace it more.
When I see that suppliers are not aligned with that way of thinking, it’s an opportunity to introduce this topic and have a conversation to build progress. It’s about changing mindsets and processes. A lot of companies are not on the right track, which is a challenge, but also an opportunity to educate and elevate them.
What is unique in your approach to packaging?
Peipei Yang - My role is unique because we don’t look at our operations alone, we also look outside the company. 90% of our emissions come from our value chain, so we can’t control everything. But we can exert our influence by promoting best practices, training sessions, and so on, which create a cascading impact across the supply chain. For example, I go out to see what our suppliers are doing. We engage to evaluate their performance and see how we can help them become better and improve their ESG performance in line with our goals.
If a supplier isn’t quite aligned, I don’t favour getting rid of them. Instead, I work to help train them and make them part of our planning and strategy. They have to embrace it of course, but 98% of suppliers are quite open, which is amazing.
What do you see as the future of packaging?
Peipei Yang - We need to consume less packaging, using it only when absolutely necessary. In addition, we should only use packaging that can be recycled forever to ensure it stays in the loop, like metal packaging. I also see a trend of refillable packaging in luxury packaging categories like perfume, which presents another alternative: allowing the end user to easily keep their original branded packaging at home while refilling it using a light-weighted, easy-to-recycle, and user-friendly refill pack.
What are you most proud of in your career so far?
Peipei Yang - As a project leader, managing our ESG accreditations is part of my role, so I’m proud that we earned a platinum rating from EcoVadis, the world’s largest sustainability rating agency. EcoVadis covers the environment, human rights, business ethics, and sustainable procurement. It’s a big achievement for us as platinum is the highest ranking available, placing us in the top 1% of all companies assessed globally. The important thing to note about EcoVadis is that the bar is rising every year as more companies get certified, so it’s a challenge to continually keep driving improvements across the business in order to maintain that platinum rating, and I am proud to see Trivium is working to meet that challenge.
What piece of advice would you share with young professionals out there looking to make an impact in packaging?
Peipei Yang - Challenge yourself, take initiative, and don’t be shy when sharing your opinion. You have a fresh mind and opinions that your colleagues can take on board. Ask the difficult question: Why do we use this material? Is it really sustainable? Can we make it more efficient? Can we improve our supply chain?
People will appreciate you injecting new ideas into the process. For example, in Trivium, new opinions are very much valued at Trivium, my manager always challenges me on how things could be improved and is always happy to hear my answers. So, don’t hold back!
What does it mean to you to be selected as a Future Leader?
Peipei Yang - It’s a surprise, my team sent the application in for me as I was not aware of it. I’m really happy and it’s a highlight of my career so far. I’m also thankful that my team recognised my work. I want to encourage young professionals in the industry to know that it doesn’t matter what your background is, just do your best and one day it will be recognised.