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Packaging Today talks to Starpack 2008 chair of judges Steve Kelsey about the thinking behind the revamped Awards and a new, accompanying high-level summit

The start of any journey is filled with excitement; it is the same for the Starpack 2008. Will all the pre-planning pay off or will IOP: The Packaging Society’s all-new Starpack Summit event be turned back at the border with an out-of-date passport?

Starpack Summit is the new collective name for the revitalised Starpack Industry Awards, the Starpack strategic seminar programme, and Student and Schools Starpack Awards, taking place in London on May 22, 2008.

Steve Kelsey, md, PI3 Design and chair of the Starpack judges, explains: “The fundamental question we asked ourselves was: ‘Is Starpack as good as it can be?’ and the answer was no; after all, there’s always room for improvement.”

But revitalising any brand doesn’t happen overnight. Kelsey continues: “In year one we have looked at some of the fundamentals – for example making the categories more relevant. This is being achieved by giving the categories a market focus and simpler to understand and opening them up to more companies. (Visit www.starpack.uk.com for full details) “Put simply, Starpack needs to reflect the changes that have happened in our industry.”

Starpack has always been a quality-driven awards programme, Kelsey maintains. But while the old materials-based categories were more familiar to packaging manufacturers and seemed to offer each material substrate an increased probability of success, Kelsey believes this was restrictive: “Customers, brand owners, retailers and consumers don’t choose a pack because it’s made from a specific material; they choose it because it works well across a range demands – from promoting the brand to working well in the home.”

The new category system reflects what the packaging sector has to do to win business. And IOP: The Packaging Society’s view is that the categories will be more easily understood, and consequently valued, by brands and retailers.

Answering possible criticism that material sectors may feel disenfranchised by the move away from material category awards, Kelsey says: “The question strikes at the heart of a really big problem in the way the previous Starpack categories were organised. Put simply: if only a restricted number of people can enter for an award they are the only people who value it.

“We hope the effect is completely the reverse. Focusing on the excellence of a pack’s design, technology and engineering rather than what it’s made from will open up each category to all manufacturers from any material group. Judges will be looking for packs that are both relevant and innovative within a particular market sector.”

Another problem is that technically innovative packs may miss out on receiving an award if measured against “sexier” packs in consumer-led categories. To prevent this the Technical Innovation Awards have been introduced. The method of judging has also been addressed to ensure consistency across the categories and establish clear definitions of what it means to earn a Gold, Silver or Bronze Star.

Every category will be judged across a range of criteria; chief among these will be environmental performance, underlined by the Waste & Resources Action Programme’s Platinum Sponsor status.

To add value to a pressurised packaging supply chain IOP: The Packaging Society has added the Starpack Summit. This strategic packaging conference – “The Packaging Dilemma – The Consumer Challenge” will, the organisers promise, “provide real insights into consumer-led packaging dilemmas and possible solutions through the eyes of major retailers, brand owners, environmental organisations, government and consumer groups”.

Speakers already lined up include Marks & Spencer, WRAP, Dragon Brands, PI3 Design and the British Brands Group.

“An annual event that is not only a major PR event for the industry in the form of the awards but also a time and place to learn about new issues, confront industry issues, and share insights and breakthroughs is very compelling,” says Kelsey. All this, and the Student and Schools Starpack Awards, mean the packaging supply chain, and consequently consumers, will benefit from the high profile now being given to packaging’s role in our daily lives.

2008 Starpack Sponsors

WRAP is the Platinum Sponsor of the Starpack Industry Awards 2008 and the Starpack Summit; DHL Excel Supply Chain is a silver sponsor for both the Starpack Industry Awards and the Summit; the British Brands Group is supporting the Packaging Summit and the Starpack Industry Awards alongside IOM3. Alcan Packaging is a Gold Sponsor of the Starpack Packaging Industry Awards. The PPMA Show is supporting the Starpack Industry Awards.

For more information contact: Rachel Brooks, Starpack Summit & Awards Co-ordinator. T: +44 (0)1476 514594; E: Rachel.brooks@iom3.org

Or to enter online visit: www.starpack.uk.com Closing date for entries is January 31, 2008.