Against a Proliferation of Regulations And for Equal Opportunities
4/20/2024 Women in the packaging industry Insights Machinery Change Interview

Against a Proliferation of Regulations And for Equal Opportunities

In an interview with FACHPACK360°, Beatrix Praeceptor, CEO Greiner Packaging, talks about the circular economy in the plastics industry, uniform rules in the EU and her understanding of diversity.

Beatrix Praeceptor in a red blazer with Greiner packagings. Beatrix Preaeceptor has been Chief Executive Officer at Greiner Packaging International GmbH since 2023.

You have been CEO at Greiner Packaging for a year now. What was your biggest challenge?

My start at Greiner was characterized by the exceptionally appreciative culture. From day one, I felt like part of the team. That is a very special quality. The biggest challenge of my role is to take the employees along with me on the transformation path that lies ahead. We have set ourselves the goal of sustainable, global, and profitable growth. As a company that produces plastic parts and packaging, this is a particular challenge that requires a lot of innovation and openness to new things.

What is your personal focus?

My focus is clearly on the topic of the circular economy and the opportunities that this presents for us. It’s not just about meeting the legal framework conditions (keyword PPWR), but also about establishing innovative business models with a new understanding of cooperation along the value chain. We want to replace the traditional linear model with a circular one in which waste becomes a recyclable material – thus closing the loop.

The PPWR continues to preoccupy the industry. What is your opinion of the agreement?

We are very pleased that there will soon be clear rules for everyone. This provides planning security and enables targeted investment in certain technologies. Unfortunately, in addition to the PPWR, there are several other regulations in the individual EU member states that are neither clear nor well thought out in their implementation (e.g. the Anti-Litter Regulation in Germany). I would like to see more practical regulations for the implementation of these perfectly sensible objectives. Otherwise, Europe will lose its competitiveness.

You yourself have lived in various European countries. How unified should the packaging systems in the EU be?

If we really want to make a difference, we urgently need uniform rules and standards – at least in all EU member states. The current proliferation of regulations leads to confusion, especially among consumers. Ultimately, however, they are the ones who decide whether or not to buy sustainable packaging – regardless of which country the product comes from. Complying with all the laws for all countries has already created immense complexity for the manufacturing industry – without any obvious added value. It is not easy to understand why different rules apply to yoghurt packaging in Germany than in Italy, for example.

Packaging is constantly changing, and consumers can experience this every day in the supermarket. But not every change in terms of sustainability is practicable, is it?

I don’t see it that way. In addition to the sustainability of the packaging, the focus is always on the end consumer and their usage behavior. I would rather say that it would be important to incentivize sustainable solutions and the necessary investments through subsidies and taxes so that consumers don’t end up opting for less sustainable packaging because of the lower price.

You were already committed to the advancement of women during your time at Mondi and even set up your own department for diversity. What role do you play in this area at Greiner?

I believe from the bottom of my heart that we must strive for a society in which equal opportunities and inclusion are the norm and companies that achieve this are more successful. This won’t happen by itself, and we still have a long way to go, especially in the DACH region. From this perspective, I will continue to advocate for more internationality, gender balance, and an appreciative culture at Greiner. It is important to me that diversity is seen as an opportunity and that we offer people an environment where they can contribute without being restricted by prejudice. The appreciative culture that already exists at Greiner is a very good starting point.

How equal are women in the packaging industry?

In my opinion, equality is not the problem, because I would say it already exists almost everywhere. It’s more about equal opportunities and the different starting points and needs that people bring with them. We still live in a world that is tailored to traditional role models. If I want to promote diversity, I also need diversity in the framework conditions. Both structurally – through flexible working hours, for example – and in the management style. Different people are socialized differently and therefore need different support measures to develop further.

What more could be done?

I am an advocate of setting strategic goals and then pursuing them consistently. Every company should consider which aspects of diversity they are missing and where or how they can work on them. It is a long road of many steps. It is also important to provide appropriate support to current managers. Intellectually, everyone understands where we need to develop. In most cases, however, fears or a lack of knowledge about the necessary measures stand in the way of implementation. We need more men and women who are passionate about making a change, success stories that show how it can be done, and a little patience.

About the interviewee

Beatrix Praeceptor (57) has been Chief Executive Officer at Greiner Packaging International GmbH for one year. She was previously Chief Procurement Officer at Mondi for twelve years. Born in Vienna and raised in Canada and Italy, she began her professional career in 1990 as a plant buyer at Philipps. In addition to her professional activities, the mother of three children is a member of the advisory board of Teach For Austria and a mentor for women.