This was the first time the annual conference was held in person since 2019, after the two previous editions were organised virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a press release by European Disposables and Nonwovens Association (EDANA). Participants welcomed the opportunity to meet face-to-face again, cementing Outlook’s importance as a key industry event for the sector which provides the right balance between curated content and networking opportunities.
“Outlook is a very exceptional conference because it leaves enough room for networking. A lot of people come here specifically to talk to people, as it’s a good mix between excellent panel discussions and networking opportunities. There are not many conferences out there that have that opportunity. I learned a lot and spoke to people that I only knew through email,” said Dr. Taryn Kirsch, senior toxicologist at Procter & Gamble.
The 21st edition of Outlook opened with a keynote from Robert Ward, director of geo-economics and strategy at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, addressing market disruptions, inflation and sanctions. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has rocked the global economy, strained supply chains, and resulted in an energy crisis that is threatening the survival of many businesses. Ward’s keynote was followed by a panel discussion on the impact of the energy situation on the hygiene industry.
“The feedback I collected from people in the hallways is definitely about the importance as an industry to address the concerns that we all have together, ensuring that during events like Outlook we pick up on these topics and make them a discussion point for us,” said Achim Schalk, executive vice president and general manager EMEIA at Berry Global, and EDANA board member.
“I am proud that we have been able to adapt ourselves and addressed some of the main concerns of today like the energy crisis. The [energy crisis] panel discussion was really interesting to see what we can learn from the challenges we are facing and how these things can have a positive spin with regards to innovation as we revamp and rethink how we are consuming energy today,” said Murat Dogru, general manager at EDANA.
Other common themes running across the conference programme were sustainability, regulatory challenges, innovation, and partnerships. Presenters and panellists shared insights such as why we cannot achieve net zero without circularity, opportunities and challenges for recycling absorbent hygiene products, and innovative solutions to improve the lives of patients.
“Let’s come together and think creatively and a little bit differently. We’ve never done that before, but don’t let that be a reason we don’t do it in the future,” Lori Shaffer, vice-president for global nonwovens at Kimberly-Clark and EDANA board member, concluded her presentation by challenging the industry with a call to action for ‘coopetition’; uniting different members of the industry to solve a common problem collectively.
Looking to the future, Dogru would like to explore new opportunities, including creating bridges with other industries by inviting speakers from other markets to share how they addressed common challenges, such as the energy crisis. The next edition of Outlook is scheduled to be held in the Algarve, Portugal in October 2023. Outlook India, a sister conference focusing on supporting market growth across India will take place in New Delhi on January 18-19, 2023.
Fibre2Fashion News Desk (NB)