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Gifts totaling $2.2 million from the Wegman Family Charitable Foundation and American Packaging Corp. to the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) in New York will go toward the creation of the Center for Sustainable Packaging, an education and research center dedicated to the development and use of sustainable packaging.
“This initiative strikes directly at the heart of RIT’s educational mission,” said Bill Destler, the university's president. “The Center for Sustainable Packaging will put students on the front line of applied research that enables manufacturers to provide consumers with innovative products while neutralizing society’s impact on the depletion of vital resources. Through collaborative partnerships and industry networks, the center will accelerate the development of realistic solutions in sustainable packaging.”
“In combination with the Center for Packaging Innovation, this new program will make RIT and Rochester a destination for students, retailers and manufacturers with an interest in sustainable packaging,” noted Danny Wegman, CEO of Rochester-based Wegmans Food Markets and chairman of the board of the Wegman Family Charitable Foundation, which contributed $1 million toward this initiative. “Support for innovative approaches to education is a focus area for our foundation. The RIT Center for Sustainable Packaging has the potential to be on the forefront of changes that will impact our future in a significant way.”
The center will be a testing ground for new ideas and solutions for students, researchers, faculty and corporate partners. It will also educate the next generation of packaging professionals. Because of RIT’s location in New York’s Finger Lakes region, a major hub of food production and processing serving the densely populated Northeast, experiments can take place quickly and results shared readily within the industry.
RIT already houses the nationally known American Packaging Corp. Center for Packaging Innovation in the university’s College of Applied Science and Technology, which was established in 2007 with a gift of $1 million from Rochester-based American Packaging Corp, and founded to focus on material science issues within packaging. American Packaging has donated another $1.2 million gift to continue support of the existing center and to help create the new RIT Center for Sustainable Packaging. The two centers will work together on joint development initiatives.
“The various components of the food packaging supply chain are siloed,” observed American Packaging President and CEO Peter Schottland. “Each works to maximize its own results, without a common goal of sustainability. In order to make the most progress on sustainable packaging, the best ideas across the industry are necessary. In an environment where the industry is aligned, experiments can happen, economies of scale are overcome, knowledge is shared, and results agreed upon.”