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Meet the 100: Alyssa Harding, Corporate Social Responsibility Manager – Justin’s

The E+E 100 are the VPs, directors, managers and engineers who are making significant strides in driving our industry. See the complete list here or download the report for more detailed information about these leaders. And stay tuned for the Call for Submissions coming in the fall, when you can nominate your favorite sustainability or energy management professional!

Now, meet Alyssa Harding, corporate social responsibility manager for Justin’s.

Justin Gold began selling batches of organic nut butters at the local farmers market in 2004. Now Boulder-based Justin’s has national distribution and is expanding into Canada. Harding started with the company three years ago and her broad role includes working on sustainable packaging, ingredient sourcing, certifications, and CSR planning.

What is the biggest challenge you have faced in the last year or two?

The most daunting and urgent challenge we’re facing is around sustainable packaging. In consumer packaged goods (CPG) there is no one best sustainable package. Everyone has different requirements for oxygen, moisture, shipping. Packaging has to do so many things. In addition to nutritional content, maintaining shelf life, and communicating to consumers, you have to address environmental impact. A good portion of our products is currently recyclable, but we have some flexible films that present an issue.

How have you addressed that challenge?

One of the ways we’ve been tackling that is through the development of strategic partnerships. In 2010, Justin hosted the world’s first Sustainable Squeeze Pack Summit. We brought GreenBlue and the Sustainable Packaging Coalition to Boulder to crowd-source and pre-competitively collaborate.

Last year I organized a summit, where the Sustainable Packaging Coalition trained over 100 industry leaders in best practices. Then we launched three action groups around office operations, trade shows, and sustainable packaging, and we assigned each group 12-month goals. I’m chairing the sustainable packaging action group with a packaging engineer from Danone. No one brand can solve this issue alone.

What advice would you give other professionals as they try to accomplish their sustainability or energy management goals?

Work with your industry and within your peer network. Developing a network and fostering collaborative scalable impact models is really the solution.

Try to think holistically and don’t be afraid to fail. We’ve been through a lot of iterations, especially with packaging. You don’t want to solve a packaging problem by creating a food waste problem.

Fight the good fight. We’re at a point where consumers are demanding more from companies. It’s never been easier to make the business case for sustainability.

 

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