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    The ABCs of Sustainable Innovation

    • Arnasi
    North America, USA, US - The Northeast, US - The Midwest, US - The South, Beauty, Personal Care, Personal Care, Skin Care, Eating, Drinking, Food, Health, Pharmaceuticals, Active, Smart Packaging, Sustainable Packaging, Recyclable Packaging, Recycling, Product Development Services, Brand Design, Branding

    To celebrate the launch of Arnasi and learn more about the firm's plans for sustainable innovation, we sat down with Sam Winslow, Senior Director of Commercial Strategy. Born and raised in Charlottesville, Virginia, Winslow attended undergrad at Carnegie Mellon University, where he studied chemical engineering as well as engineering & public policy.

    To expand his expertise, he moved to Boston to pursue his PhD in chemical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), completing his masters along the way. At MIT, he was connected to LiquiGlide® through collaboration with the Varanasi Research Group and career fairs. With an unwavering love for the reality show "Survivor," and a passion for sustainable innovation, here's Sam Winslow.

    At Arnasi, what is your title and role?

    As Senior Director of Commercial Strategy, I do some of the corporate and proprietary branding work, product strategy and prioritizing. For example, informing what would be some of our R&D priorities to work on technology development first before we can start thinking about productizing and branding new innovations. My focus has historically been on more of the consumer packaged goods side of the business – the skincare, the food products, things like that. I haven't had as much exposure on the bio side, but that's changing too. We're bringing together the two sides of the business.

    Did 10-year-old Sam Winslow want to be an engineer?

    I always gravitated toward math and science. I liked building things. I like creating things. So I think I veered more toward engineering than a pure science. My grandma Nora, when we'd get together as a family, she would always have little craft projects for us to do. I remember being with her and we took apart an old clock when I was a kid. So that was the tinkering side of my family.

    How did your grandparents influence your passion for science?

    I started studying chemical engineering before I really knew this, but my grandfather was a chemical engineer with DuPont for his entire career. He got his PhD in chemical engineering from Iowa State. And then his PhD research was actually classified as part of the Manhattan Project. He was working on uranium ore extraction. He ended up passing away from cancer. And actually a lot of his labmates did too, because they were working with uranium on the lab bench.

    All this to say, there's some force out there in the universe that kind of pushed me toward engineering, I think without even me knowing.

    My grandparents did a lot for us with education too, both in terms of instilling a value of education in us, as well as helping us with schooling. My grandmother passed away after we started being able to get together again after COVID. The last time I saw her was when she gave me my grandfather's thesis. And I remember, at my [dissertation] defense, she said, "Now go out and do something, go out and use it." So I hope to make them proud.

    What can you tell us about the sustainability of Arnasi products?

    A lot of the sustainability story starts with the LiquiGlide® technology itself that we're going to use throughout the product lines. We realize that there are so many different value propositions to the technology, that it can almost appear confusing. But truly, its flexibility allows you to take the technology and build product and brand stories around it, and use it in lots of different ways in lots of different categories. It's our job so stay focused on developing the most high impact applications.

    If you choose the right packaging materials, our LiquiGlide® technology makes the packaging easily recyclable for consumers because it's already completely empty. One of the major challenges with recycling is consumer behavior. If it feels empty, then it's easier for something to end up in the recycle bin because it feels natural to the consumer.

    But that's only part of the story when it comes to the shift to Arnasi and corporate. LiquiGlide® technology is just one technology. We have others in the future that we're pursuing. Be it raw materials and ingredients, be it pharmaceutical biomedical actives, or primary packaging technologies and dispensing solutions, everything needs to have and will have that element of sustainability with it.

    Is there significant waste in the beauty industry and, if so, why? How do Arnasi's beauty applications support sustainable innovation?

    The beauty industry is a major contributor to waste. All the packaging that ends up out there, the mixed materials, components that are too small to recycle, the formula that gets left inside making recycling difficult or impossible… the list goes on.

    There's industry consensus that we need to do something, but not on what to do.

    One part of it is there's not going to be a one-size-fits-all approach. Product formulas are different, so you have to think about compatibility issues. People's supply chains are different, their retail strategies are different, their consumers are different.

    Another part of the struggle is that legacy brands and existing brands already have product and supply chains set up. To change their sustainability goals, they potentially have to repack everything, remarket everything, change their margin structures…is the consumer going to absorb that cost?

    It's a challenge for them but an opportunity for us, because we are building our brands from the ground up. We are starting with sustainability as a major design criterion.

    Most newly launched products have some kind of sustainability story to them. But, when you already have a full product lineup, you're going to have to change some things over, and the consumer is going to have to get comfortable with that. We've spoken with consumers, and they agree sustainability is a value proposition and is a differentiator. But they don't want to pay more for it; the expectation is that sustainability is something that the company, the brand, invests in. And most importantly – it has to be a great product.

    How is sustainable innovation applied to Arnasi's ostomy line, a biomedical application?

    In the biomedical space, there are more regulations about package security and the associated requirements. There are certainly opportunities where you can prioritize recyclable materials in biomed packaging but there are times when you won't be able to.

    In the ostomy line it will be more about driving that demand for sustainable innovation. I don't think it'll be as front and center in the marketing as it will be in the beauty line, but you can still expect that the ostomy products will have a sustainability angle to them in the formats that we use.

    When you hear the term "sustainable innovation," what comes to mind?

    When I hear the term sustainable innovation, I immediately think, "Oh, that's hard." It's a real challenge because it puts constraints up. You can't use all the same tools that you had before, you can't market in the same way, you can't use the same ingredients, you can't use the same packaging solutions. It takes a real mental shift, a shift in priorities, a shift in workflows to do it.

    What we want to do with all those challenges is show that it's worth it. It's worth it to change your workflows to show consumers that you really value this. It's not virtue signaling, it's something that makes business sense, because consumers want these products. They want you to go that extra mile that it takes to create products that are delightful, that have great formulas, that are differentiated, that have novel experiences with them, and as a core value – are sustainable.

    We want to push the demand for sustainable innovation and lead by example. We want to be on the forefronts of a shift. We know it's important to make the investment in it. We recognize that. We believe in it and believe in showing others that it is worth it with our success.

    Is there anything else that you'd like to add?

    I'm really excited to see this transition of the company. We have the management in place that will give us firepower and freedom, as well as motivate our investor base for the future of the company. It will be a really exciting year. I'm excited to be part of it.

    For more on Arnasi's sustainable innovation, please contact the team.

    See also

    • Interview
    • English
    • Modified 28 Nov 2023
    • Hits 1459