Towards a Global Plastics Protocol: Policy Solutions for Closing the Loop on Plastics

Client Organization: 
Amcor Plastics
Client is confirmed: 
Project Location : 
Ann Arbor, MI, USA
Summary of Project Idea: 

Goals & Objectives: What will this project accomplish?

This project has two components. Students can focus on one or both to accommodate their interests.

  1. EnviroAction and sustainability culture - EnviroChart is our database where we record environmental data to track progress toward our “EnviroAction” goals to reduce GHG emissions, waste sent to landfill or incineration, and waste use. Amcor co-workers vary widely in their awareness and understanding of Amcor’s EnviroAction goals and overall approach to sustainability. Students will develop a tool to measure Amcor’s current sustainability culture and awareness, develop methods to increase sustainability culture and awareness, deploy these methods in 3-4 office and manufacturing sites, and measure results. The students will provide Amcor with the tools and recommendations to deploy their program across all 200+ Amcor sites. 
  2. Identifying acquisition targets to advance our sustainability agenda - As a supplier to many of the world’s best-known fast-moving consumer goods brands, most of our products are geared toward mass market rather than more sustainability-oriented consumers. While we supply 100% post-consumer recycled content products to a few select brands, we struggle to influence other brands to choose more sustainable products. Students will conduct market research to identify small to medium size companies in our market segments that would be more interested in packaging with lower environmental footprint. Also, students will make recommendations on how to effectively position Amcor’s products to those companies. 

Theoretical Justification, Social Benefit, or Significance: Why is this research important?

What is the real-world impact of the proposed research?

  • Amcor has over 30,000 employees in 44 countries worldwide. Our vision is that each of these employees understands the principles of sustainable packaging, understands Amcor’s approach to sustainability, our goals to reduce our environmental footprint, and is motivated to be an advocate for sustainability in their communities, working to improve the state of recycling and ocean health.
  • Adding more sustainability-oriented customers to our portfolio will not only allow us to provide more sustainable packaging, but it will also reinforce the business value of sustainability to our executives and sales and commercial teams.

Specific Activities & Duration: What research methodologies are appropriate to tackle the proposed research question?

Research methodologies will include:

  • Desktop research of publicly available information and Amcor’s internal communications 
  • Interviews with stakeholders including employees, management, suppliers, customers, and others as relevant 
  • Field visits to manufacturing locations in Ohio and the Chicago area, as well as our local Ann Arbor and Manchester, MI offices 
  • Marketing research of small and medium-sized food, beverage, home and personal care companies 

Is the scale of proposed research reasonable for a (part-time) 16-month project for 4-6 students? Yes.

Integrative Approach: How does the proposed research integrate the skills of disparate team members to generate an effective final product/output?

  • This research requires both quantitative and qualitative analysis and would benefit from a diverse team of students who have different strengths. The project will benefit from students who have analytical experience as well as students who have strong communication skills.
SEAS Program Areas: 
Environmental Policy and Planning
Behavior, Education, and Communication
Sustainable Systems
Role for each program area: 

Environmental Policy and Planning: Consider environmental impacts of plastic packaging manufacturing, apply knowledge of decision-making in organizations, and determine how to create the conditions that will drive employee engagement in environmental goals and activities

Behavior, Education, and Communication: Understand Amcor’s employee recruiting, onboarding, and training to determine best practices going forward to drive behavioral change at the individual and corporate level; Work across team to create a communicable model of scalable sustainable practices and risk mitigation action plans, to be applied globally.

Sustainable Systems: Knowledge of systems thinking, environmental impact of manufacturing

Professional Career Development Benefits: 

Students will have the opportunity gain key insight into how environmental data is measured and tracked at a global multinational corporation, engage with diverse internal and external Amcor stakeholders including a variety of employees, and gain comprehensive understanding of the food, beverage, and pharmaceutical
packaging industry and exposure to the decision-making process in a global corporation.

Funding Sources: 

Amcor funding will be available to take the students on a tour of a Materials Recovery Facility (MRF), visits to 3-4 Amcor production sites and offices in Chicago and Ohio, and an Amcor R&D office. Amcor will also cover other project costs such as printing and incidentals.

Identify expected products/deliverables: 

Deliverables: What documents/products/reports will the team deliver upon completion of this project?

  • Tool to measure sustainability culture across Amcor locations 
  • Baseline measurement and other findings o Roadmap to improving sustainability culture and awareness 
  • Market analysis and recommendations of acquisition targets o Formats: Word doc and powerpoint slide deck 

Implementation: How will project outputs be used by your organization? Will the project team’s recommendations be shared with a broader network/audience?

  • Recommendations will be shared with Amcor's Sustainability leadership team through a videoconference.
Contact full name: 
Leonore Adams
Job title: 
Sustainability Manager
Ann Arbor
State or Country: 
SEAS Faculty Advisor: 
Shelie Miller
Contact Phone: 
Advisor Confirmed: 
Contact e-mail: 
Contact information: 
Master Students Involved in Project: 
  • Alexandra Carr
  • Eamonn Fetherston
  • Thomas Makled
  • Lauren Meyer
Project Status: 
In Progress