Photo of the New Orleans water front

Reflections on SPC Impact New Orleans: A celebration of sustainability and collaboration

Last week’s SPC Impact event in New Orleans was nothing short of extraordinary – an immersive experience that seamlessly blended inspiration, education, and camaraderie with the vibrant backdrop of the rich culture of New Orleans. As I reflect on the event, I am filled with gratitude for the opportunity to hear incredible speakers, engage in workshops, and experience the warm embrace of the packaging community.

Here are some highlights from an unforgettable event:

Inspirational speakers

The array of speakers at SPC Impact New Orleans was nothing short of inspiring, each bringing a wealth of experience and a glimmer of hope amidst the daunting challenge of climate change. While it’s impossible to mention everyone who contributed, I feel compelled to highlight a few personal standout moments from the event.

Paul Nowak’s opening remarks set the tone for the event, delivering a powerful plea for action while offering reassurance that solutions are within our grasp. His use of John Lewis’ iconic quote:

“If not us, then who? If not now, then when?”

Resonated deeply, encapsulating the urgency and responsibility we face in addressing climate challenges.

Another impactful and insightful session was 2024: The year we overcome PCR sourcing challenges which was moderated by Ross Bergman from GreenBlue who was joined by panelists Wesley Porter from Berry Global, Scott Saunders from KW Plastics and Brooke Anderson from Keurig Dr Pepper. The discussion delved into the complexities of PCR validation and the practical steps needed to meet 2025 commitments. The emphasis on taking action, even in the face of imperfect processes, underscored the importance of momentum and continuous improvement.

Then on the final day, Molly Kawahata’s impassioned presentation on climate action, drawing from her experiences as a former Climate Advisor at the Obama White House, left a lasting impression. Her poignant quote:

“Fear isn’t effective for long-term action. When we can show people the promised land, make success inevitable, people will want to join a winning team”

Highlighted the importance of fostering optimism and collective action in driving meaningful change.

These moments, among many others, exemplified the spirit of optimism, resilience, and determination that permeated SPC Impact New Orleans. Each speaker contributed to innovative ideas, insights, and calls to action, reminding us of our collective power to shape a sustainable future.

Interactive workshops

I had the privilege of contributing to the agenda with an interactive workshop on ‘How packaging data can shape & drive your business’. The workshop was fully subscribed prior to the event and we even had several additional attendees standing at the back. With a great cross-section of attendees the results from our polls were insightful. Unanimously, the overarching theme was that most are aware of legislation but feel they should know more and very few have currently utilized a dedicated packaging specification platform to capture their data but appreciate that data needs are only increasing. The good news is that there are solutions to aid this process and we had many attendees speak to us after the workshop to explore more about what Aura can do to support, be it consultancy and / or our e-halo program.

Content delivered at the workshop

Each attendee also received a tailored FREE Data Health Check summary report based on their answers in the polls. So, if you were one of the attendees, keep an eye on your inbox for your report.

Aura / CarbonQuota Partnership announcement

One of the highlights of the event was the announcement of the partnership between Aura and CarbonQuota. It was perfect timing to announce this strategic collaboration, as many topics were discussed on climate change and de-carbonization, along with measuring the carbon impact of packaging.

For Aura this amplifies our commitment to driving efficiency, accuracy, and transparency in packaging data as carbon measurement will be added to our existing instant recycling evaluation. By integrating carbon calculation capabilities into our e-halo program, we aim to empower businesses to make informed decisions and reduce their environmental footprint proactively.


With over 850 attendees and 53 sponsors, SPC Impact provided a vibrant platform for meaningful conversations and connections. One of the nicest parts of the event for me was the warmth I felt, only 1 year ago we were on our first venture to US Events as Aura and this year it was like catching up with old friends and making many more. I now view America as my second work home now and I’m already looking forward to my next visit in 6 weeks to GreenBiz Circularity.

City, music and food

Beyond the event itself, the allure of New Orleans’ rich history, lively music scene, and delectable cuisine added an extra layer of excitement to the experience.

We arrived on Easter Sunday and just missed the mardi gras parades but we did experience Bourbon Street and as much of the French Quarter as we could squeeze in. With a cultural fusion of French, Spanish and America architecture and so much history it was great to learn about this amazingly resilient city that has been victim of climate change in recent years.

We also went on a walking food tour prior to the event starting, which involved delicious food from lesser known restaurants, and one or two local cocktails, all of which were amazing. Once we started with the local cuisine specialities, we didn’t stop! From muffulettas, jambalaya, shrimp creole, gator bites, oysters and so much more, with nearly every restaurant having a story to tell.

With the swing and blues notes of jazz playing everywhere, from restaurants to street artists, there was a joy about the city which I hadn’t experienced before.

Even the event had a sprinkling of jazz, with the New Orleans Music Company playing an introduction to each speaker on the main stage. They certainly contributed to the lively energy in the room delivering the perfect finishing touches to compliment the packed agenda.

Overall themes

As I reflect on SPC Impact, several overarching themes emerge:

  • Hope for meaningful change
  • Mature approach to carbon discussions
  • Packaging regulations embraced, rather than feared and avoided
  • Recognition of the pivotal role of packaging data in driving sustainability

“As I reflect on the event, I hope all attendees carry forward the inspiration and momentum generated, knowing that together, we can overcome the challenges of climate change and build a brighter tomorrow.”

Gillian Garside-Wight

In conclusion, SPC Impact New Orleans was a resounding success, leaving me inspired, informed, and energized to continue to drive sustainability initiatives forward.

If you were fortunate enough to attend or are interested in learning more about how Aura can support your sustainability journey, please don’t hesitate to reach out. Together, let’s make a meaningful difference in shaping a more sustainable future.

Gillian Garside-Wight Consulting Director

About the Author

Gill leads our consulting offer, with over 20 years’ experience in the packaging industry, strategically developing packaging strategies, roadmaps and packaging solutions to meet the needs of clients, consumers and the planet. She has worked with many global retailers and household brands on projects spanning sustainability and innovation to supply chain optimization. With a real passion for sustainability, her quest is to educate, influence and drive a circular economy wherever possible while complementing creativity, technical functionality and commercial realities.

Gill grew up on a tiny island in Scotland and this is where her passion for sustainability started. She loves nothing more than (trying) to grow her own veg and exploring nature with her son.