An Interview with Ben Patten, Founder of Get Dizzie
London Packaging Week is just around the corner, and one of the most anticipated speakers is Ben Patten, the visionary founder of Get Dizzie, a pioneering company that is transforming the packaging landscape through its innovative approach to reusable packaging. With a deep understanding of sustainability and a passion for driving change, Ben Patten is set to captivate the audience with his insights and experiences.
A Journey of Evolution and Innovation
Ben Patten’s journey into the world of sustainable packaging began with a diverse background in events, conferences, and business intelligence. Through his experiences, he recognised a common challenge faced by large companies – the difficulty of making significant strides in sustainability due to the ‘huge strategic leaps’ required. Armed with this insight, he embarked on a mission to address the packaging footprint associated with everyday products.
“I recognised that it was very difficult for large corporates to make progress on sustainability because it often required fundamental changes to their supply chains and infrastructure,” Patten explains. His determination led him to establish Get Dizzie, a venture initially aimed at providing consumers with easier access to sustainably produced food and drink. However, the overwhelming feedback from customers shifted the company’s focus towards tackling the packaging waste problem.
As Patten further researched the issue, he explored various packaging solutions, including alternative materials and recycling processes. Ultimately, he arrived at the concept of reusable packaging as a potent means of reducing the environmental impact of packaging, both in terms of plastic pollution and carbon emissions.
“We did some lifecycle analysis work with a couple of companies trying to understand what the relative footprint could be, because while we understood that the principal concern for consumers that were engaging us on this topic was plastic pollution and plastic and packaging waste, we were also very mindful that whatever solution we were designing needed to be more carbon efficient. There was definitely the opportunity to help certain categories transition to more carbon-efficient packaging as well.”
A New Paradigm in Packaging
Get Dizzie’s journey unfolded in stages, each marked by an innovative strategy. Patten and his team initiated trials in 2020 and have, since then, further developed the business. Through rapid delivery and collection, the company has been able to recover both delivery boxes and product packaging, setting the stage for a revolutionary approach to packaging reuse.
“We started trialling with a small proportion of our customer base and then worked our way up to 50% and then 75% who could buy products in a closed loop,” Patten said. This approach provided valuable insights and paved the way for collaborations with larger brands and retailers, a strategic move that acknowledged the need for a comprehensive and adaptable solution.
Adding, “Another important outlook, from very early on, was that we felt if we were going to create the efficiencies that we needed to create, and make it work across the reuse cycle value chain, then we’d need to design from the start. We were thinking about the packaging materials we used and how they would work with homeowners but also in the supply chain.
The packaging needs to work for brands and their existing technology and for retailers and their existing operational processes. And so that’s how we came to do what we do today. Now we’ve worked with retailers supplying a range of roughly 100 different SKUs in reusable packaging. We’ve developed a vast range of our own packaging, and we’re working on a second development stage.”
“There’s also a completely different version for new categories as well. What we’ve designed at the moment works very well for dry ambient goods, but we’re now looking to work with other categories, wet foods, pastes, and so on.”
Balancing Convenience, Affordability, and Impact
Addressing concerns about the viability of reusable packaging, Patten stressed the importance of balancing three founding principles: convenience, affordability, and impact. The key, he believes, lies in ensuring that adopting reusable packaging is no more challenging than current practices.
“We need to make it as convenient as possible. We are looking at ways that we can collect from people’s doors,” Patten states. This commitment to user convenience extends to the entire lifecycle of reusable packaging, from consumer adoption to waste management and recovery.
“There’s a compelling business case that you can build for waste management companies for the safe and speedy recovery of the packaging, as you’re dealing with fundamentally valuable assets. How quickly you can introduce that infrastructure is up for debate. Food waste collection and recycling has taken many years, if not decades, in some areas, but we believe there is a compelling business case for reuse infrastructure. That’s the kind of the next frontier that we’re working on at the moment.”
Navigating Challenges and Seizing Opportunities
While the path to widespread adoption of reusable packaging presents challenges, Patten remains optimistic about the future. He acknowledges the need for government support and industry-wide collaboration but believes that the shift toward sustainable packaging is inevitable.
“I think it’s about where we’d expect it to be. I think, as is true for a number of areas, we need a little more conviction from the government,” Patten shares. He highlights the urgency of reducing packaging pollution and stresses that businesses have a responsibility to be part of the solution.
“Things will need to change. Who’s responsible for that is a difficult one,” Patten reflects. He highlights that embracing change now will not only lead to environmental benefits but also position businesses at the forefront of an industry that is undergoing a transformation.
“Waste management is a crippling cost the way we’re going, and I think there’s widespread acceptance in the industry that the majority of brands are not just working with UK retailers; they’re working with retailers across Europe and beyond. Those retailers are definitely being driven towards reuse systems. We’re at a bit of a crossroads; we need to decide whether we’re going to follow everyone else and play a role in creating that infrastructure and see it as another area where we can innovate and provide the industries of the future. Or we are at risk of getting left behind. I think we’ll get there in the end, but there’s a lot of environmental policy at the moment, and it’s a bit of a political hot potato.”
As Patten prepares to take the stage at London Packaging Week, his message to brands and retailers is clear: Embrace change, engage with sustainable packaging solutions, and contribute to shaping the future of the packaging landscape. With conviction and innovation, Get Dizzie and Ben Patten are on board with the charge toward a more sustainable and environmentally conscious future.
London Packaging Week attendees can look forward to an insightful and inspiring presentation from Ben Patten, shedding light on the transformative power of reusable packaging and the role businesses can play in driving positive change. As the packaging industry evolves, pioneers like Patten are lighting the way, offering both a blueprint and a call to action for a more sustainable tomorrow.
London Packaging Week: www.londonpackagingweek.com