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Professional ambitions

More focus groups, professional standards development and Chartered Status are all key IOP goals, ceo Lynda Purser explains

The Institute of Packaging has come a long way in the last six months. This is already being recognised and membership has grown significantly since January.

Under the guidance of Helen Chambers, head of membership services, our approach to membership has strengthened and become increasingly professional. The latest development is the decision to work towards developing professional industry standards. These will be key to both the Institute and the industry, enabling us to provide high level services through Member grading, links to further and higher education and a comprehensive scheme of continuing professional development.

The benefits will come in the development of clear coherent standards, that will be recognised industry-wide and comparable with other similar industries. Key to this will be attracting good people to packaging careers at entry level so they can progress through set standards, thus raising the overall calibre of those within the field. The Institute aims to ensure that this constant process of progression and standard-raising becomes accepted practice and is viewed as a quality benchmark both for comparative industries and those looking to interact with the sector.

In the longer term the Institute hopes to achieve Chartered Status, for which the development of coherent, transparent and consistent professional standards is essential. We are also exploring establishing more focus groups. We currently have two common interest groups, one in pharmaceuticals and one in environmental issues. These are very important and we will be working with them to ensure the information they have can be made available to members. Other groups similarly will be established and the information from them shared.

The potential importance of the Institute in being the focus for intelligence about packaging has never been greater, with the industry continuing to sit at the top of the political agenda. Packaging is fundamental to the economic success of business and yet its role is challenged and packaging waste decried. The demand for smart packaging is growing and there are films that can regulate oxygen and carbon dioxide levels to keep produce fresh. “Radio barcodes” are providing functions like anti-theft and logistics benefits. The Institute must be the focus for up-to-the minute information on all this.