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“The Zero Waste lifestyle has created different opportunities for businesses. There is growing interest in minimalism and simple living, and manufacturers cannot afford to keep their eyes closed. I would encourage packaging companies to think of ways to minimise their products and introduce reusable packaging,” says Bea Johnson, Author, Zero Waste Home.

Johnson is a speaker at the marcus evans EuroPack Summit 2017, in Montreux, Switzerland, 18 - 19 September.

Tell me about your Zero Waste methodology of 5 Rs: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Rot. 

The Zero Waste lifestyle aims to eliminate or drastically reduce trash from one’s household, but it actually translates into a life rich in experiences instead of material things. Refuse is about refusing what we do not need. In this consumerist society, we are the target of many promotional goods. Every time we accept one, we create the demand for more. Once we bring them home, they become a waste problem. We say No on the spot. Reduce is about letting go of what we do not need, so that these valuable resources can go back into the market. The second hand market is extremely important for the future of waste. Reuse is about buying second hand and swapping disposable items for reusable alternatives. You can use handkerchiefs instead of tissues, adopt rags instead of paper towels, and go grocery shopping with jars and cloth bags. The fourth rule is Recycle only what you cannot refuse, reduce or reuse, so only very few recyclables remain. The last one is Rot, composting fruit and vegetable scraps, floor sweepings, hair, etc. With this methodology, my family produces just one jar of trash every year. 

What are the misconceptions associated with this lifestyle?

People think that to live this way you have to be a hippy or live in the woods. They think I am a stay-at-home mum with too much time on my hands, but that is not the case. I am a full-time professional. People also think it costs more, but it is the complete opposite. We save 40 percent because we buy only what needs to be replaced, we buy second hand and we buy in bulk. When you buy a packaged item, 15 percent of the cost is the packaging. Buying food with reusable containers means we no longer throw our money away. Some people think it takes more time to live this way, but it actually simplifies your life tremendously.

What role can packaging executives play? What business opportunities could you point them to?

There is a big market for reusable, returnable and refillable products. There is an entire economy about to explode and it is already emerging. My book has inspired countless unpackaged stores worldwide, lines of reusable and refillable products, plastic-free silos, refilling machines, etc. Large manufacturers are taking note too. For example, I was contacted on behalf of a bottled water manufacturer, I suggested selling the product in branded street fountains and returnables.

Packaging companies interested in introducing reusable products have much to gain from this movement. Plastic is associated with many health concerns, so I would encourage them to consider metal or glass instead. Women aged 25 – 34 are most interested in this lifestyle. That is when they get pregnant and become more careful about what goes in their body. They also look to simplify chores as they juggle work, kids and a household. I wanted a better future for my children. That is why I started. Packaging executives should look at this market carefully. Zero Waste is not an utopia or a fad, it is a reality and a necessity.

And finally, what does your yearly jar of waste contain?

The last jar contains foam from a cycling helmet, a hairnet from volunteer work, stickers from vegetables, the backing of stickers, and the broken antenna of our solar converter. It also contains a balloon that landed on our land.


Ahead of the marcus evans EuroPack Summit 2017, read here an interview 
with Bea Johnson discussing her Zero Waste lifestyle movement and what 
business opportunities packaging executives should look into

Bea Johnson


Zero Waste Home

The Packaging Economy Just Waiting to be Created 

Recent Delegates
  • VP Global Packaging, Unilever
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    and more…

About the EuroPack Summit 2017

The EuroPack Summit is a premium forum bringing elite buyers and sellers together. The Summit offers FMCG packaging executives and suppliers and solution providers an intimate environment for a focused discussion on how to win the battle for market and mind share through packaging. Taking place at Fairmont Le Montreux Palace, Montreux, Switzerland, 
18 - 19 September, the Summit includes presentations on enhancing the environmental performance of packaging systems, executing sustainable initiatives, managing changing regulatory requirements, exploring smart pack technologies, and creating brand messaging consistency.

Copyright © 2017 Marcus Evans. All rights reserved.

Summit Speakers
  • Salvatore Ranchetti, Group Quality Director, Ferrero
  • Ben Polter, Global Design to Print Manager, Beiersdorf
  • Vincenzo Disavino, Head Global Packaging Material & Equipment, Mondēlēz International
  • Veith Behrmann, Head of Corporate Packaging, Nespresso
  • Ramses Dingenouts, Senior Packaging & Identity Design Manager Global Commerce, Heineken International
  • Jamie Stone, Global Head of Design & Shopper, Nutrition & Digestive Health, GlaxoSmithKline

     and more…

18 - 19 September 2017

Fairmont Le Montreux Palace, Montreux, Switzerland

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