What made you choose packaging as a career, and what excites you about the sector?

Mariia Baranova - In 2020, I completed a master’s degree in Ecotoxicology and Ecophysiology at Sorbonne University in Paris. Subsequently, I extended my studies with a one-year program in sustainable development. After that, I started as an apprentice at Albéa and was officially recruited at the end of it.

I find fulfilment in contributing to a field that serves a vital purpose. While packaging is essential for the modern world, it poses significant environmental challenges. I’m excited about exploring opportunities to reshape our approach, minimising environmental impact while maintaining functionality.

What are the packaging challenges that you want to overcome?

Mariia Baranova - Finding the balance between product safety, circularity, and low environmental impact. We need to integrate that balance across all the different stages of product development, from creation to delivery.

It is challenging but critical to stay on the right path with the primary goal of deriving social benefits from the product and its production while minimising harm to the environment.

It requires a lot of collaboration, internally and externally, and a lot of resources. At the same time, we must act quickly to address the urgent climate and plastic crises, making decisions and taking action based on what we already know and the resources at our disposal that are sometimes limited.

What is unique in your approach to packaging?

Mariia Baranova - As a CSR Project Leader, I coordinate data collection and sustainability initiatives at global level, aligning our strategies with environmental goals. I map and measure the current state, ensuring that we progress in the right direction when we design a product and implement its manufacturing process. I think it allows stakeholders to make informed decisions, and therefore to make the right ones in terms of environmental impact.

What do you see as the future of packaging?

Mariia Baranova - In my vision, the future involves responsible products (circular, safe, and low impact) and stresses the importance of sustainability for companies creating these products. Collaborative efforts across the entire value chain, from suppliers and product designers through to consumers and end-of-life, will be crucial to deliver meaningful change. Indeed, we need to create not only responsible packaging but a responsible ecosystem around it. No company can change everything on its own. We need to have a collaborative approach.

What are you most proud of in your career so far?

Mariia Baranova - Since joining the team, I’ve significantly increased the amount of auditable data we have access to, which has helped the company to make better-informed decisions. I’m also proud of supporting our facilities to achieve recognition in their sustainable journey, internally and externally. I am proud of the collaborations on projects with my colleagues; we make a great team moving forward!

What piece of advice would you share with young professionals out there looking to make an impact in packaging?

Mariia Baranova - Stay curious, be proactive, and embrace interdisciplinary knowledge. The packaging industry needs individuals who can bridge the gap between science, sustainability, and business. Rigour in data assessment is crucial, because information is constantly changing in this sector, and you can never know it all!

Engage with colleagues and never underestimate the power of collaboration for impactful and long-lasting change because you need to work inside and outside of your organisation to affect change in the whole product life cycle. Collaboration is key - the most important thing if we want to move forward.

What does it mean to you to be selected as a Future Leader?

Mariia Baranova - Being selected is both an honour and a responsibility, signifying recognition of my commitment to positive change. It’s an opportunity to collaborate and learn from other leaders, and it gives a voice and space to young people which is amazing – I’m excited to meet them all this January! To be recognised alongside my colleague, Laurine Friche, material expert, reinforces our company’s pride in our work and collaboration.

You can hear more from Mariia Baranova and the other Future Leaders at Paris Packaging Week, held 17 & 18 January 2024 at Paris Expo Porte de Versailles, Paris. Click here to register for your free visitor’s ticket today.