January 8, 2019 / Michael Sullivan

Early Warning Systems for Product Stewardship

Wolfgang Urhahn’s work at HAVI, a major provider of food service packaging, can change on a dime. As Director of Global Compliance and Packaging Safety, Urhahn sometimes has to react when public attention can swiftly fixate on certain compounds or materials. Changing consumers expectations due to demographic changes and increasing brand mistrust mean that companies are paying greater attention to what their product say about them. In Building an Anticipatory and Emerging Issues Management System for Product Stewards around the Globe, Urhahn shared how HAVI monitors its raw materials and regulations.

HAVI instituted a testing regime that goes beyond compliance to monitor potential targets of regulation. This puts them ahead of the curve on addressing problems and puts HAVI in a proactive mode rather than reactive. Engagement with their suppliers has increased supply chain transparency so they not only know what’s in their products, but also forge agreement with all partners on what they use in their processes.

Thanks to the multitude of regulations and jurisdictions HAVI and their clients work in, a broad view of product stewardship and anticipatory issue management was required. HAVI transitioned from local monitoring to a globally coordinated system. Urhahn went into great detail into the system and how it works, leaving every attendee with a strong understanding of the HAVI system and how it could apply to their company.

As part of tracking emerging issues, HAVI invites their customers into the process by sharing how they are getting ahead of areas of concern. This communication engages customers and helps them see how HAVI is protecting them from becoming the topic of the next headline. It’s a system that has worked: in the two years since HAVI instituted this issue management system, none of their major customers have been in the public spotlight for packaging concerns.

Michael Sullivan

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