I travel quite a bit and find myself on a plane at least once a month. While Iím no George Clooney in Up In the Air, I try to abide by the basic travel rules - you know, keep moving in the security line, donít block an open restroom, and keep your hands and feet to yourself in your 8 by 8 inch aircraft seat Ė so, aside from a few remarks, I donít regularly engage in conversation with my seatmates. Usually, Iím lost in my own life, worried about the logistics. Last week, the weather was my main concern. So, I was, buckled in, thinking about the snowflakes, when the young woman next to me spontaneously started speaking. Unlike me, her trip was not one of business. She had been out to visit her ill mother and was on her way back home. As I conversed with her for about an hour, I thought about the snapshot I was seeing of this womanís life. My weather concerns, while still there, were put into perspective by the opportunity to glimpse a little piece of what she was seeing through her eyes.
Around here at FPI, we talk about foodservice packaging a lot. I know Lynn and I have both mentioned this before in prior posts, but we are wholly immersed in the world of packaging. You also know, weíve been spending a good part of our time working on the recovery of foodservice packaging, which has been a multi-faceted and complex group of projects. We were recently invited to participate in the Paper Stock Industries Specifications Summit. I was excited to attend this day long meeting to discuss potential changes to some of the paper bale specifications. As I listened to the conversations in both the plenary and breakout sessions, I realized that this conversation was much bigger than I could have imagined. Representatives from MRFs and paper mills and others who are all dedicated to the recycling of paper had so many different things to say. Each of them is grappling with big issues, and many of them may not see foodservice packaging as one of those. I left the meeting realizing that, once again, I had just captured a glimpse of what each player in the value chain holds most dear Ė okay, at least as far as paper recycling is concerned.
This summit was a great opportunity to have new conversations about foodservice recovery with people who may not yet have heard our story. I am hoping they now have a snapshot of our work and some of these folks may be willing to have another conversation in the future. Recovery is a big puzzle. After the past few weeks, Iím realizing the puzzle has even more pieces than I originally thought. But thatís okay, because each player is passionate about their piece. Yes, recovery is about infrastructure and equipment and markets. But, itís also about the people we meet along the way. Iím hoping that we can spend more time comparing our snapshots and catching a little bigger look at the common picture.